In search of life-giving spaces
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When you picture a life-giving space what do you imagine?
Take a few minutes to reflect, and maybe jot down some of your thoughts.
In pondering on this question I (Rachel) have been taking some time to identify moments in the past week when I have felt part of a life-giving space; places where I have been most aware of God at work, instances which have helped and enabled me to be the person God created me to be, and spaces of nourishment and growth.
These spaces have included working alongside groups of children, meeting with a social worker from a government department, connecting with friends, meeting with a colleague to consider policies for the school, planning with others, chatting to family at home and around the world – they’re all spaces where I am seeking to work out God’s dream for my life and for His world, with my friends, through my work and in my community (Hudson, 2015).
So what do these life-giving spaces have in common?
These spaces were all ‘safe’ places, where I and others could share freely; where we listened to one another and felt heard. We left space for the other to think, asking questions without feeling we were being judged. There was a sense of mutual respect with people valuing others opinions and being open to different perspectives. Everyone in the spaces believed that we learn from one another, and that through listening and exploring together we all go away changed for the better. Importantly people didn’t feel the need to ‘fix the other’.
It is because they are ‘safe’ spaces, that they are also able to be challenging places, spaces that lovingly encourage those represented within the group to make changes and go further. In being spaces where vulnerability is okay, it means we can all be stretched.
I imagine these are the kind of spaces we all seek to create, to join, to be part of; spaces of endless possibility, opportunity, and encouragement. But what happens when we find ourselves in spaces that we don’t find life-giving? To be honest, my instinct is to withdraw and observe, rather than actively participate. But this week, as I reflect, I’ve started to ask myself whether this is what God wants for me? In these contexts I believe God is asking us to actively pursue Him, to discern with and from Him what we should say and how we might act, moments when we might need to take a step back before moving forward.
Hudson, T. (2015) Friendship with God. China; Struik Christian Media.