Word of the Week

Word of the Week: Space

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the silence spaces that fill so many of our day-to-day conversations and relationships.

A friend’s flippant comment offends us. A family member makes choices that we think are terrible. A best friend forgets our birthday.

We find ourselves with relationships full of space-- this week's word.

I'm defining space not as what's out there in the universe, but the distance from people that a person needs to feel comfortable.

But does it have to be this way? Is there anything we could do to lessen the space?

Recently I read Professor Kate Bowler’s book, Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved-– a memoir about grief, cancer and dying. It’s full of beautiful prose. Prose I highly recommend to you.

One of the things that impressed me right away about Kate’s experience of a terminal illness at age 35 (a stage 4 cancer sentence nonetheless) was her crushing defiance of any space in between.

As soon as she heard that she had months to live (which has now turned into years thanks to a clinical trial), "The games of relationships had to stop," Katie said.

Coming out of her first post-cancer diagnosis surgery, Kate describes sitting next a friend who came to be with her and giving her this pep talk:

“Oh my dear one, it’s time. It’s time to go. You can leave your job . . If you stay a bitterness is going eat up everything I love about you.”

I can imagine that Kate’s directness toward her friend would not have happened if it weren’t for her reality. And, I can imagine sensitivity to her friend’s feelings might have held her back. Fear would have gotten the last word. There would have been SPACE.

But the space in between the two friends vanished because Kate had the courage to tell the truth. Kate said what her friend most needed to hear.

So today, I’m wondering this: what does it take for you to live brave like this?

How can you speak up, get to the point faster and not allow bigger canyons of space to keep you from those you love with kindness (of course)?

In the quiet moments of this week, I know that if you sit with the questions around the relationships you value the most, you'll know what to do next. You will.

God always hopes, I believe, that we will be people who live abundantly after all. Abundantly without so much space keeping us a part.



P.S. If want to dig deeper into this topic, one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Brene Brown. Check out this podcast she did with the folks at On Being about what it takes to have this kind of space-busting courage.