I read the email, and my heart sank to the soles of my feet. In my work with foster children, there is a little boy waiting for his forever family. He is currently in a beautiful home with two supportive parents, siblings and pets. He is trying so hard to be happy, but still yearns for his birth mom who has long since left his life. He’s adjusting slowly. He’s showing some less-than-pretty responses to the stress of trying to understand healthy family life. He is struggling.
I begged his team to give him some space and the grace of more time to figure it out. The answer was no. So we start all over again.
Space and grace. That’s all this scared little boy, dealing with things most of us can’t even imagine, needed.
Space and grace.
As I try to lift up my heart and clear my head so I can help him through the next steps, I find myself reflecting on how much better our world could be if we could just extend a little more space and grace to one another.
Space, not just the physical, but also the emotional time and environment needed to create a life that works for us, to find systems and responses and habits that serve us well in whatever new situation we may be entering. Space to adjust to a new job, a new move, a new marriage. The space to create what life will look like for a new mother or a newly retired doctor. Providing one another space can mean extra support or can mean extra solitude. It’s about listening and watching for what the other person needs, and stepping into the best way to support it. Establishing space in our lives allows us to live from an authentic core. Space is not just about how we decorate or how we design our surroundings. It’s also about how we establish the pace of our lives, the rhythm that respects what we need and who we are.
The term “holding space” has come to refer the ability to be physically, emotionally and mentally present without being invasive. It requires no personal agenda or investment in an outcome, but rather a simple presence so the one unfolding can do so in a safe, loving environment. This term always reminds me of a flower bud opening. It must do so in it’s own time…to be tugged or rushed will only serve to distort or destroy the innate beauty that is meant to come from within.
Grace. Grace is acceptance for what is, exactly as it is. Grace involves forgiveness, especially when it’s never been asked for. It is the offering of kindness even when we have no direct benefit. Grace involves a compassion and open-heartedness that makes us both vulnerable and incredibly secure simultaneously.
In my work with children, space and grace are the secret ingredients. And yet they are also the secret ingredients for each one of us.
You see, we cannot offer space and grace to others if we don’t first offer it to ourselves. The kindness, the compassion, the time to figure things out. We must gift our own souls with these simple, beautiful elements, and allow ourselves to receive them from God. Only then can we understand why they matter so.
When we are able to offer those we love, or those we simply stand behind in the grocery store, the benefit of our patience, the strength of our acceptance, we change the energy and the emotional realm of the moment. If we can take a deep breath when frustrated by another’s actions, remove ourselves from the impatience, and give them the time and resources they need to move forward, we alter the entire dynamic.
When we show ourselves patience and forgiveness, when we allow ourselves to grow from mistakes, we develop a compassion that becomes more easy to extend to others.
Simply stated, it’s how we change the world.
Space and grace. The secret sauce to a kinder, gentler life. May we all be willing to both receive them for ourselves and gift them to those around us.