The Space We Hold

A few months ago, I read Jen Hatmaker’s book “Fierce, Free and Full of Fire”, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. In the book, Jen called me to live differently as she shared her story. Reading the book felt like a sweet invitation to live a full, vulnerable, bold, honest, full-hearted, wildly-loving life…. unapologetically. I really can’t say enough how much I loved the book.

There is a lot I could unpack about the book, but the thing that seems to inhabit my brain the most lately is regarding the “space I hold”. The way Jen described this is not necessarily new information, but the way she described it was so powerful. Basically, each of us was put on this earth to hold space. No two people can hold space the same way. Stay with me while I break this down a bit. (Jen writes this message mostly to women, so I am for sure following suit, but please know, if you are a man reading this… this message applies to you!)

There are women who hold large spaces. Women like Lisa Harper. I don’t know Lisa personally, but I sometimes feel like I do. She is one of my all time favorite speakers and authors. She has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. Many people know her name or have at least heard her name. Her words are hilarious and powerful. She is often quoted and shared. While I am sure there are people who don’t like Lisa, I haven’t actually met anyone who has said that. The way Lisa lives her life in the public eye is quite endearing. She shares such special glimpses into her life that make me feel like I could be her friend. Whenever Lisa publishes a new book, I buy it. I would love to hear her speak in person one day. I’d say that I would love to meet her, but if you have ever been around me when I meet someone “famous”… let’s just say no one needs that kind of embarrassment. I may look like an educated woman, but put me in front of someone “famous” and I am bound to lose all my words and say something that jokes will be told about for years. Anyways, to summarize: Lisa Harper holds a very large space in this world and I am a fan girl.

There are also women who hold medium spaces. Women like Katie. I don’t know her personally, but again, I sometimes feel like I do. Kate is the owner of my favorite jewelry business, Dear Muska. The pieces are delicate and simple, but each piece comes packed with scripture. One of my favorite pieces is called “Guard”. It’s a beautiful necklace shaped like a shield. No one would know when first looking at it that it is based on Philippians 4:6-7. I love the idea that I can carry truth with me, but also wear a fashionable piece of jewelry.  

Katie is more than just a business owner. She often shares parts of her life on social media and I have learned so much from her. I love when she talks about tips on studying the bible or prayer. She just feels like such a wealth of knowledge. She also shares about books that she is reading, homeschool tips, mama tips and all sorts of great things.

Finally, there are women who hold small spaces. The type of woman who isn’t famous, isn’t quoted and doesn’t have a huge jewelry business, but her space isn’t any less important. 

I am a woman who holds a small space. That’s not to say I don’t have influence, but I don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. In fact, at the time of writing this, I am far from even 1,000 followers. My blogs have been shared by friends and family but my stats aren’t the kind that make companies excited and I rarely if ever get quoted. I have an amazing circle of friends who I know love me, but after reading the book I couldn’t help but wonder if it was enough. 

Maybe I am supposed to be bigger? Maybe I am supposed to hold a medium space like Katie or a large space like Lisa? What if I am not doing enough? These are the thoughts I think about late at night when I can’t sleep. I was absolutely comparing myself to others and the comparison left me feeling like I wasn’t enough. The space I hold wasn’t making a big enough impact. I think a lot of people can relate to that. 

I know what you are thinking, you are thinking that you have read this message before. I am going to tell you that “comparison is the thief of joy” and I am going to tell you some story about how I stopped comparing myself and found joy. First of all, stop trying to jump ahead in the story and enjoy the ride, and second of all, while there is some truth to that thinking, I’d like to believe that there is more in these words.

A few weeks ago, we learned there had been an accident, and someone we loved was gone. What happened next feels like a dream. Dan and I somehow got home, packed and started driving. When we got in the car we didn’t really know when we would get there or how long we would stay, but we knew we needed to be with family. 

When we finally got to family, I was shocked to see what was happening. People had brought food, drinks, cleaning supplies and paper products without being asked. People kept showing up in waves and they were never empty handed. If they didn’t have tangible items to share, they brought hugs, condolences, prayers and comfort. The way the community has shown up for my family is something I will never forget. It was beautiful and special. 

As we sat with family, I watched my sister-in-law grieve her father-in-law. I watched her protect and care for her grieving mother-in-law. I watched her love her kids and serve her husband. I watched her sit in the hard with her sister-in-law and take a long walk with her nephew while he sorted out his feelings. She greeted everyone who visited with so much care. Is my sister-in-law perfect? No, none of us are, but as I watched her care for those around her, I realized the space she holds is pretty dang big.

Reyna lives on a ranch that borders a small town in Nebraska. Over the years Reyna has worn many hats. Depending on the day, she may be a rancher’s wife, a stay at home mom, a mom to adult children, a church volunteer, a para or substitute at the local school or the booster club president… to name just a few. When she sees a need, she fills it. She loves everyone around her hard and well. Whether it’s volunteering to help the community or getting a job to help her family – she does it all. 

In the world’s eyes, the space Reyna holds is small. She doesn’t have thousands of followers on social media. She probably isn’t going to have a movie made about her and she isn’t quoted. Outside of her community, I don’t think many people know Reyna. However, that doesn’t matter.

As a rancher’s wife, my sister-in-law serves her husband every day. She has worked cows and most all the tools around the ranch. She has also ran to town for supplies and tools. She is a jack of many trades, and is always willing to get her hands dirty to help out. She has cooked for and loved all the local ranchers who come to help with brandings or calving. She had formed relationships with the local ranch community that is bigger then just “business”. She has helped foster a local ranch family. The space looks small, but she is changing lives. 

As a stay at home home mom, Reyna has rocked babies, wiped noses and dried tears. She has danced to ridiculous songs to make her kids laugh, and has listened to their biggest fears. As her kids aged, she became “Mama Reyna” to all her kids’ friends, and loved them like her own. Reyna has mothered so many well. The ranch was a safe place for so many. It may feel like a small space, but she is moving mountains. 

As a mom to adult kids, Reyna has helped two kids move out and start their grown up lives. She encourages her kids to be brave and take risks. She prays big prayers for them, while reminding them they always have a safe place to land. It may feel like a small space, but she is impacting generations. 

As a church volunteer, the roles Reyna has held are vast. She has greeted visitors, read children’s stories, cooked meals, hosted events and cleaned the church. These things feel small, but they add up to big moments. 

As a para, Reyna worked with special needs kids. She created one on one relationships with them. As a substitute, she continues to do just that. She shows up and loves kids. She gets to know them, and she remembers them. She doesn’t get to substitute often, and the space may feel small, but she is changing lives. 

As a booster club president, I have seen Reyna encourage EVERY sports team under the sun. She has helped to create a safe place for parents to come and cheer their kids on. She connects to the parents and loves them. It feels like a small space because that’s what the job is, but she makes it so much more. 

I could keep going, because I don’t even think this scrapes the surface of all my sister-in-law is, but I think it is absolutely safe to say that if Reyna stopped being Reyna, nothing about the space she held before would feel small. The gap that she fills is important and big. It’s needed. Reyna’s overall space in this world may be small, but her space to those that love her is larger than life. 

Okay, if you are anything like me, you have listened to me rave about my sister-in-law and now not only do you feel like the space you hold isn’t good enough… but you are feeling less than because you aren’t like Reyna. 

Friends, that isn’t what this is about. We absolutely have to stop looking at people and weighing ourselves against them. I could never be a rancher’s wife like Reyna, but I am not sure Reyna could run a model for the deals I do at work either. We each hold space that the other couldn’t. 

It would be easy for me to leave this here. To tell you to stop comparing yourself to others and to just live in your space well. Who cares if it’s big, medium or small in the world’s eyes? It just matters that you are being you… filling your space fully. Growing up and out as God leads. But I can’t stop there. 

Comparison can absolutely be the thief of joy, but this time comparison actually made me happy. Watching Reyna and comparing myself to her taught me something about the small space I hold. Reyna is a pro at holding her space well because she loves whoever is placed in front of her. Her small space holds massive impact because she is kind and loves hard. Being kind and loving hard aren’t things that Reyna has had to practice. Those traits are simply who she is. It’s the reminder, that what I do everyday – just because I am me – are things that hold a big impact. The small things that I don’t think matter are the things that add up to big things.

I may not be a speaker and author known around the entire world. I may not own a jewelry business or any business for that matter. The list of things I will never be could probably fill a library of books… but the list of things I am is enough. I am a wonderful wife that can cook an amazing dinner. I am a loyal friend that loves to laugh, but is always willing to sit in the hard situations for the long haul. I am a hard worker that strives to put my best forward. I am a good daughter. The list could go on and on. 

So today, if you are reading this and feeling like the space you hold just isn’t enough, I want you to close your eyes and make a list of the things that you are. It’s not going to be the same as my list and not going to be Reyna’s list and that is the point! This isn’t a list you create after looking all around you to see what others are doing… this is a list of who you are today. That list holds power. The space you hold is powerful, don’t let anyone tell you any differently.

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