Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

June 2006

Holy Space

If you’re new, you’re jumping into Part 2 about the spiritual practice of community. (See May wisbit: Community: Two People Looking Forward) This one is about a specific aspect of community that is not often talked about.

People frequently say, “You should read this book . . . see this movie . . . come to my church.” They somehow know what I should do. Uhm.

Years of being a wife and mother taught me that there is a holy space between each person and God—a space I need to stay out of. In the past I had great ideas about what my husband should do, but I learned I’m better off to keep quiet and pray for him. If I believe God is leading me to do so, I can bring up the idea but without asking for a response. I can let him converse with God about this. I must not get in the holy space between God and my husband. Nor must I intervene in the holy space between God and each of my children. Again, I may make a quiet suggestion now and then, but without that “should” element. I must leave their freedom in tact. I want my kids to have truly holy encounters with God—not ones I tell them they should have.

The larger principle here is that Christ is the mediator between another person and me. If I’m irritated by you, I need to talk to God about it. God will guide me about what I should do about it. Usually it’s to pray, not to talk to you about it, but it may be. Am I open to whatever God would say to me?

On the other side, if you offer me a criticism, I must lay it at God’s feet and ask God to show me what I need to know. Some of it is no doubt true, but the criticism—both content and tone--must be filtered through God.

In this way, God is able to redirect me in my efforts to love people—maybe loving a person doesn’t look like what I thought it looked like. It also means that I don’t have to dump my feelings on you, but on God.

Perhaps this affects our behavior most in how we practice mutual submission with others. We don’t have to have our way or assume our way is right. It plays itself out most in the minute-by-minute submission of truly listening to people: not interrupting; not saying, “Right, right, right,” machine-gun style while people talk; clearing my mind to really hear a person with no thought of what I want to say.

In this way, God builds community among us.

{Spiritual Disciplines Bible Study: Community & Submission} (Note Session 5 especially).}

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson




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