This one phrase has been on my mind and heart for the past few months.
So for me holding space goes way back. Way back to probably the beginning but for the sake of this post, lets go back to my teenage years. I lost my virginity, got pregnant and had an abortion all in my freshmen year in high school. While all of this was going on there really wasn’t a safe place for me. I didn’t have anyone to talk too. There was no one around to explain all of this ins and outs or even to process my grief, thoughts and feelings with. Please know that I didn’t expect there to be fanfare for a black, naive, pregnant teenager but I do look back and wish that someone would have held space for me…
What it means* How it happens in my everyday life* Why it’s important to me*
When I say hold space in no way am I saying that I wanted people to coddle me or agree with my misinformed and reckless behavior. But I think it would have been life changing to have a person there who could help me process all that I was going through, listen to my heart and also honestly explain sex–the feelings that come with it, consequences/joys of it and that it is not just a physical act; it’ truly giving your body and emotions to another person. Holding Space is having someone say ‘hey, you are not your mistakes. Take what you’ve learned from this and build upon it” ( my Aunt Virginia, who is my oldest child’s namesake, did tell me something to this effect before she died).
So fast forward almost thirty years and my hearts desire is to hold space. This is my hearts songs to be a space holder for people. Over the years, Ive either seen or experienced a little bit of everything. From three pregnancies (two ending in abortion, one in miscarriage and being told that I wouldnt be able to carry a baby full-term), abuse, trauma, absent father, instability, not emotionally connecting with anyone, watching siblings go in and out of prison, seeing/living with parents who had alcohol/drug addictions, to my sister (who shared our home with us) dying almost three years ago unexpectedly and the trauma and depression that followed from finding her unresponsive, doing CPR to only find out there was no brain activity and have to make the decision to take her off of life support…
Holding Space has become my life song. I get do it with my children when we have hard conversations. But also in everyday life by acknowledging their thoughts and opinions and giving them the space to feel their feelings, without judgement, and doing what we can to steer them in the right direction- all while helping them put useful tools in their toolbox of life. I also get to hold space for teen/young moms. I run a program, The Connect, just for them. To provide a space where the can just be…without judgement, with lots of love and care, a home cooked meal, all while giving them the tools and encouragement to become the best parents for their children.
So for me holding space is to listen without judgement. It is welcoming people with a meal, coffee, a Kentucky Mule and/or a soft sofa to relax on. Holding Space giving advice when it is needed and wanted, crying tears, hugging the stew out of you or even just praying silently as I hols someone’s hand. Holding Space is loving without trying to change a person…it can also be telling someone that it’s time for them to get their life, in love:)
I hope that you hold space…to love people where they are so that they feel safe and significant…even when life’s circumstances are screaming the exact opposite… I hope that you choose hold space.