“Holding Space”- Path of the Empath

Galatians 6:2 English Standard Version Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Greetings! This podcast is hosted by Anchor FM, and is listener supported.  This blog is also supported by fans and listeners of the Lion’s Pathway podcast, the Pathcast.  Follow Us As We Follow the Lion, Christ Jesus.  Now in this episode, we’re gonna talk about this passage of scripture from Galatians.  How can we bear one another’s burdens? And specifically, how does this apply to people who are in clinical chaplaincy.  Let’s find out!

I really love this content on the site called “Uplift.”https://upliftconnect.com/hold-space/ I think it does a good job of describing what holding space is all about.

What Does it Mean to ‘Hold Space’ for Someone Else?

It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

Sometimes we find ourselves holding space for people while they hold space for others. In our situation, for example, Ann was holding space for us while we held space for Mom. Though I know nothing about her support system, I suspect that there are others holding space for Ann as she does this challenging and meaningful work. It’s virtually impossible to be a strong space holder unless we have others who will hold space for us. Even the strongest leaders, coaches, nurses, etc., need to know that there are some people with whom they can be vulnerable and weak without fear of being judged.

My personal thought is that holding space means being emotionally available for others. We all have issues, problems, circumstances and trials that we face.  I mean, who doesn’t? But I think that just as Christ tells us that his burden is light, so too we should help to lighten the emotional loads that others are carrying.  All it takes is a little patience, compassion, and empathy:

Matthew 11:28-30 English Standard Version  28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

See, Christ often wants us to imitate his example in scripture, by His grace, through the power of His Spirit.  Christ says to the heavy laden, “I’ll give you rest.” He tells people to take his yoke, and he will teach them.  Christ says he is gentle and lowly in heart, and we will find rest for our souls under his yoke.  Why? Because his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.  Wow, wouldn’t be amazing if we could bear one another’s burdens with gentleness and lowliness? I truly appreciate all the chaplains and medical staff I’ve come to know here at Roper.  But lately, I’ve had some unique and special moments with JW and JB.  JW is a former Pentecostal who is intrigued by the mysteries and beauty of the Orthodox Christian church.  JW is a chaplain who has recently found their home in the Anglican tradition, specifically the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).  Although at heart I am heavily influenced by Lutheranism, I am intrigued by our “cousins,” the Anglicans! Out of all the Protestant denominations out there, Lutherans have the highest affinity for Anglicans. In fact, the ACNA and NALC have several joint fellowship statements together.  Here is the PDF link: file:///C:/Users/c102914/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/IE/7ADPZQVK/ACNA-NALC_Four_Affirmations_Oct2017.pdf .

                The wonderful thing about these chaplains is that we all respect each other, and our various theological differences.  In fact, we “hold space” for each other.  Basically, it’s non-judgmental, non-confrontational, unconditional support for one another.  I believe this is what holding space is all about.

WHAT HOLDING SPACE IS AND ISN’T…

                So, If I’m constantly trying to change or “correct” someone’s theology, that would NOT be an example of holding space.  Now as a self-proclaimed “Anglo-Lutheran,” I can get hyped and excited about the Lutheran doctrine of justification, the doctrine known as Simul Justus Et Peccator (Each Christian is 100 % saint, 100% sinner, see Romans 7), Luther’s three uses of the Law (a curb, mirror, and guide), and on and on.  All these are beautiful doctrines, but should I impose them on my non-Lutheran brothers and sisters in the Lord? Of course not! Some denominations are egalitarian (women and men can both be pastors), whereas some denominations are complementarian (only men should hold the pastoral office), etc., etc. One beautiful thing about the Anglican church is that they utilize a policy called “dual integrity,” i.e. local bishops and dioceses can decide for themselves whom they may ordain to pastoral roles.  Now I am still praying on that issue myself, and I’m going to read a book recommended by Chaplain JB called, “Black and White Bible, Blue Wife,” in which Ruth Tucker describes some of the abuses she survived from her former pastor husband https://www.amazon.com/Black-White-Bible-Blue-Wife/dp/0310524989.  So the Anglican church is holding space for varying opinions on women in ministry, and there is also room for people who are more Reformed, Arminian, or Lutheran in their personal theology. Instead of trying to change or convince people of the “right” or “wrong,” they are letting people’s opinions stand.  I’m not sure how open the NALC is, but it speaks volumes that they are partnering with the ACNA on so many things.

 All of this comes back to the point of holding space for others.  This means that we are actively listening and seeking to understand, rather than be understood, as Franklin Covey says.  I appreciate today, because JW, JB and I ended up praying, well…I was praying, but they listened and let me pray for them! They have prayed for me so many times, and recently I have found JB’s prayers to be especially poignant, provocative, prophetic and powerful.  JB truly has a gift for prayer.  And JW has a wisdom that goes beyond his years.  He also has a gentle and disarming personality, and his peace is actually his strength, and a source of serenity, calm and strength for all those around him.  Though JW is significantly younger than I am, I’ve learned a great deal from him.  So in closing, I say to JW and JB, thank you. Thanks for holding space for me in this CPE residency.  Thanks for your prayers and wisdom, and your prophetic voice in my life.

  JB — 1 Timothy 4:13-15  14 Do not neglect your gift [of intercession] , which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

  JW – 1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

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