What is Holding Space?
I recently had some tests at a doctor’s visit. I’m still waiting on some results. Have you been there before? Waiting. Thinking. Playing scenarios in your head? I tried to write something different for this post but, if I’m honest, the wait is heavy — and yet not as heavy as it could be.
I know myself enough to know that carrying the weight of the wait would be too much. So instead of keeping this to myself, I called and texted some friends. This lifted the weight of suffering in silence, which I’ve done in the past.
While my own small group looks different these days and is being shaped, I shared with a group of people I trust and with whom I journey. They were the second folks I told. Truly, a lightness was gifted to me after.
Holding space. In a physical way this isn’t even possible. I mean literally you can’t hold space. However it happens in emotional and spiritual ways. I’d categorize much of my role as a pastor as holding space. Sitting with people in the joy, sorrow and complexity of moments. Small groups at their best can be messy, holy places of nonjudgmentally listening, sitting with, asking questions to clarify and comfort, and at times even to challenge. Holding space.
Embracing silences, not rushing a person to get to the point or even have a point, empathizing by allowing yourself to feel what another feels all of these are ways to hold space. Holding space is also reserving your advice or relevant story. And is not just about hard moments- holding space can be for joy-filled and celebratory moments as well.
How well do you hold space? Who’s held space for you recently?
As I prepare to hear test results, facilitate the 90 Days to Launch Your Small Groups, chat with a short term group about becoming a longer term group together, and parent (goodness there is so much holding space in that role - that’s a blog for a different day), I give thanks for those who’ve held space for me because inevitably they influence how I hold space for others. I pray you have places and people who hold space for you. And know that I commit to supporting you to create space for people who will hold space for others.
Holder of holy space, thank you. Thank you for listening to the concerns, uncertainties and struggles. And for being there to hear gratitude and celebration. For the people in my life that sit shoulder to shoulder, week after week sharing the realness of life, thank you. May I continue to grow as one who holds space others and I may be courageous to share with others so that space is held for me.
If you found this article helpful, and you’d like to say thanks, click here to buy me a coffee.
© Charity Goodwin, 2023.