Interesting term we occasionally hear, “Liminal space.” Its sort of like, you’re between what is and what is yet to be. One definition I’ve come across says, “Liminal space is the uncertain transition between where you’ve been and where you’re going physically, emotionally, or metaphorically. To be in a liminal space means to be on the precipice of something new but not quite there yet. The word “liminal” comes from the Latin word “limen,” which means threshold.

Right now, with the weather we’re experiencing, it feels like Spring. Yet, we know its still Winter, and there’s a real possibility we haven’t quite gotten beyond a cold snap, ice and/or snow falling. Its kind of confusing, you’re not quite sure how to dress, how to prepare for the day.

I’m one of those kinds of people who thrive on sameness at times. I like predictability, I can pretty much be on autopilot when things are the same. Of course, the downside to this is its fairly boring. When things never change, they are always the same it all becomes just so dull. I’m not sure our lives are meant to be without challenge, without adversity, without mystery.

It seems to me, when we are in liminal spaces we are in uncertain territory. That can have the effect of putting us ill at ease. We’re just not sure how to respond, how to act, what to feel. The interesting thing to me is, when we find ourselves in just such a state, we also find opportunity. The opportunity to explore what has been, and to explore what can be.

There are a whole range of places where we can find ourselves in liminal spaces: anger, grief, sadness, anxiety, fear. These are just some areas we can find ourselves stuck in for a variety of reasons. These are emotions that are many times very difficult to move beyond. We can feel trapped and stuck in these places. Sometimes we wake to find we are no longer exactly stuck, its more like we don’t find ourselves dwelling on those heightened emotions. We haven’t forgotten what had us feeling that way, but its not ever present in our mind. The thing is, we haven’t put those feelings to rest, we haven’t resolved them. They are still there, just not quite as fresh. This is that liminal space for us. We haven’t moved beyond the feelings, and at any moment they can be dredged up and become a fresh wound all over again.

Now we’re not sure how to act, how to feel, in regard to these emotions. Time has passed, we haven’t fully dealt with the substance of these intense feelings. They’re still there, they haven’t gone anywhere, the intensity just feels as if its been dialed down. So there we are, in between pain, anguish, hurt, and the other side of having come through and completely putting those feelings to rest.

What do we do in that liminal space? How do we cope, how do prepare, how do we exist? I believe this is when we are able to explore and discover the richness of God’s grace and mercy. God knows where we are at all times, our ups and downs, our good and bad. In First Peter 5:7 we’re told, “Cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you.” This is a hard thing to do, we don’t share our hurts and pain easily. We’re not sure how that makes us feel. We are assured though, God already sees and knows. When we give these things into God’s hands, it goes a long way to our being able to move from a liminal space to the space God has for us. Jesus says to us in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Friends this is where our faith is important, trusting God with the deepest parts of us. Trusting God will hear us, will comfort us, and will move us from where we are to a place of peace. We like to hold on to stuff. We like it because the sameness of those feelings make it easy for us. We don’t have to think, we know we are feeling what we feel and that’s that. When the day comes where our emotions have eased some and don’t have a stranglehold on us, we just aren’t sure what to feel then. This is our opportunity to truly open up to God. Lay it all out; the good, the bad and the ugly. Be honest and open with God, I can assure each of us, God will lead us out of that space into the space we are intended to inhabit.

Well, Winter isn’t through with us yet, of that I’m pretty certain. I haven’t put away my heavy clothing just yet, but I do know there is a Spring that is coming. I’m getting ready, I’m preparing, the excitement of moving beyond the darkness, dreariness and cold of Winter gives me hope. So when we find ourselves in those liminal spaces in our lives, we are being given the opportunity to hope for what God is going to surely provide.

“O God, I know I’m prone to holding on to those things which tie me up in knots. I know I find a kind of false comfort in the liminal spaces where my emotions aren’t as raw, but remain unresolved. Help me to lean on you Lord, to give over what truly holds me captive. Help me to seek you, and to find hope in where you are leading me. Amen”

Your companion on the Way,

Pastor Tom

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