Maybe it’s because I grew up in Texas. I love having a spacious house and neighborhood. I love the expanse of the beach, the height of the mountains and the vastness of Texas. But far more important to me than physical space is the non-tangible space of privacy and solitude.
I think it would be easy for me to build a protective wall around myself to make sure that I had plenty of emotional space. So the Lord has constantly sent people into my life–usually people I love–to challenge both my physical and emotional space.
Over the years God has sent several people to live with us and challenge my space. First there was my father-in-law. Then at two different times, my brother-in-law. His different values really pushed me, especially as he influenced my children.
Certainly children filled lots of space–and Debbie and Michelle were great tools in God’s hand for my growth. Josh was an incredible “space invader.” The noise and mess that he and his friends generated seemed to fill the entire house. And his need for constant supervision and encouragement frequently pressed my time and my emotions. Now my precious grandchildren are doing it all over again.
For a while my mother-in-law lived with us. She brought lots of pleasure and lots of help, but her neediness could also be a challenge. Then there are the friends I love and care for, many of whom have needs. I care—very much. I love—deeply. But sometimes I just want to escape. I want some space.
There’s so much that the Lord seems to want to do in my life in this arena, and I am a very slow learner. Certainly it’s okay for me to establish a protective space with appropriate boundaries, both physically and emotionally, but even that will be infringed on sometimes.
Just look at the model Jesus has given us. He gave up the vast space of heaven to limit Himself to a human body in an oppressive, sinful world. While here He let people—needy, hurting people–invade His space every day . He told us to love as He loved, that is to lay down our lives for those we love. Maybe that will mean death, as it did for Him. But primarily, for me, it seems to happen where I live–in time and space. So to love is to willingly give up my time and space for another person.
So how do I, a space needy person, survive this constant sense of “space invasion”? Again, Jesus models the answer. He sought His Father. He took wonderful, private moments with His Daddy. In God’s presence is all the space I could ever need. When people and circumstances close in, His presence opens the doors and windows of my soul. Then light and fresh air and freedom pour in and fill me up. When I make Him my space, only what He allows in permeates my borders.
This is my prayer for myself and for you if you want it:
“Oh Lord, be my space. Allow me to let in all those You send me. Enable me to find my solitude and refreshment in You. May I not resist anyone seeking to enter my space, but rather welcome them to join me in Your presence.”
© 2010 Judy Douglass
en español: Amo Mí Espacio.