For as long as I can remember I’ve been very aware of my surroundings. Not in a “know where all the exits are because you’re in witness protection” (though I did really want to be in the FBI at one point) kind of way. And I wish it were the kind of “aware” that made me brave to make eye contact with people in crowded places, but more often than not I don’t even notice that someone I know is in the room…or saying “hi”…or waving.
I’m introverted, not anti-social. I swear.
The kind of “aware” I’m talking about makes me very self-conscious of the space I take up in a room. I hear a constant echo of childhood commands to “watch where you’re going” and ” pay attention” and the result? I shrink. I assume that there isn’t space for me, that other people deserve to be where I was going to be, and that no one will want to hear from me anyway.
When I fly, my seatmates always get the armrest. Or both of them, if they want. Because I’ll move – every time – without fail.
When we’re in a crowd, I’ll go out of my way to make sure I don’t run into you, and if we do happen to bump purses, I’ll apologize immediately.
When I wait in the checkout line at Target I put a self-imposed amount of space between your order and mine to give you the privacy you need to checkout, so you don’t feel rushed, and so my items don’t crowd yours.
When I’m at Zumba I won’t go into your space, take your spot, or dance too “big.”
Sure, some of it is just good manners, and I’m okay with those parts. But I’ve been watching some people I admire for their confidence lately, and I was struck by how they take up space. They stand with their feet wider, they move bigger, they claim the space God has put them in without apology.
Maybe that’s part of my lesson this year in learning to be bold. Because nearly 33 years of making myself small and insignificant has become a little exhausting.
And, more importantly, I realized that it doesn’t just stop at being overly aware of the physical space I take up. I’ve also found myself craving a more focused and consistent prayer time and as I sat at Madi’s ballet lesson reading “Wild and Free” I had a bit of a revelation. That space of prayer in my life has grown quiet because I’ve forgotten that God isn’t limited in His resources. I’ve been subconsciously living as though keeping my small prayers quiet would free God up to deal with the bigger, more important prayers. If He didn’t have to waste time listening to me, He’d be able to take care of the things He really wanted to do.
Can I just pause for a moment and tell you how hard that is to write, but also how freeing? Because the truth is that God is limitless. I can’t take up His time anymore than you can. He wants to hear from each of us, no matter how big or small or silly or serious the prayer is. He makes space for us and calls us significant because we are His. We don’t have to apologize for bothering Him or worry that we shouldn’t be there. We don’t have to wait for an invitation or perfect timing, and we’re never standing too close or getting in the way.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to quiet those voices in my head in the line at Target, but I’m going to lean into the truth that God doesn’t think I’m bothersome.
God has given us a specific space for a specific season. Let’s claim it confidently, kindly, and unapologetically.
If you’re not doing anything at 8am EST, come hang out with me on my Facebook page for a live chat – I have a fun invitation to share with you!
I just thought that was my Canadian-ness showing. 😉 I totally do this, too. It’s taken just about my full preschool year to claim my space confidently, which is silly because I know God called me to what I do and I feel like I’m home when I’m there. But there’s always this large part of me that feels like I should hang back and apologize for being there. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand that, but it definitely good to know I’m not the only one.
I so did this at Target last night. I don’t even think about it. I reason that it’s my act of blessing someone by letting them go ahead of me in line, but last night when I did it (again) I felt a little twinge. I think I used to feel bold, and then “this is how Christians act” happened, and life happened, and I’m slowly realizing how quiet my quiet became.
Sarah Damm says
I truly can relate to this … “I assume that there isn’t space for me, that other people deserve to be where I was going to be, and that no one will want to hear from me anyway.” But you are right in your realizations: God has us in this space! So let us claim it for Him!
Thank you for sharing so beautifully and with such heart!
Crystal S. says
It’s always a little scary to write these, but always so comforting when I know I’m not alone 🙂 xoxo