“Loving Liminal Space”
Note: this blessing was originally personalized to a young friend in transition.
I felt it might be expanded to address all those passing through emotional and spiritual reorientation. If the shoe fits…
Dear friends in transition,
I offer my blessing as you celebrate each significant waypoint on your journey.
I recognize that no one actually transitions overnight.
I recognize that transitions can be notoriously awkward and disorienting as we pass through physical, emotional, or spiritual growth spurts—when we sort through what it’s time to leave behind and where to dip our toes into next things.
I can’t say this strongly enough—it’s not a time to let go of play, of affection, or of faith. These are among our greatest gifts. People who lose those essentials aren’t maturing. They are stuck and probably withering, and it’s very sad. Not so with you! I pray you will practice these three life-giving qualities until the day you die!
There’s a word for these transition times: “liminal space”—literally doorway.
Liminal space is like a doorway from one phase of life to the next, though if I’m honest, it can feel more like a very long hallway, especially because we still face a long journey ahead. And there’s a lot of stuff you needn’t worry about yet. As Paul Young says, we live in the grace of today.
Because liminal space can be disorienting, it’s easy to experience grief, confusion, anxiety, and alienation—so many learn to despise transitions and just want to get it over with. I don’t blame them, but I also think that’s a lost opportunity. Here’s another way to look at it:
We can learn to love and bless liminal space—we may recognize it as a kind of promotion, even if it’s daunting. It’s not a window you need to jump from, wondering if you can fly. You can pause in the doorway to catch your bearings for as long as you need to. And as you pause, you begin to see others who’ve passed through the door and are waiting to welcome you.
That’s what this blessing is about. You have people in your life who love you, who pray for you, and who have stories to tell and wisdom to share. Take a moment to identify them. They are the ones who have your back and are ready to not just be talkative tellers who think they’ve arrived. They’re interested in your story, receiving your calls, and becoming better listeners. And they’re going to need you and your wisdom because they too are facing transitions—some quite painful.
We ALL walk with some sort of “limp,” and your true mentors are ready to tell you why. In fact, between you and me, I don’t trust elders who don’t have this limp because it just means they’re hiding it. Don’t measure them by their successes but by their vulnerability. They’ll need your creative energy, your fresh perspective, your friendship. So, I bless you to love this liminal space, not least because the way others relate to you is about to grow.
Most important, I think, is that many people experience liminal space as so strange that they wonder where God went. Whenever we let go of our previous life stage—of good things we’ll miss—the grief can sometimes make it feel harder to locate God. But here’s a wonderful thought that changes everything:
Jesus said, “I AM the door”! He OWNS this space, so it’s far safer than we imagine. You are always in the care of a loving God! Infinite Love is definitely not about to abandon you in our most vulnerable times. So, not only do your true mentors have your back. So does Jesus.
He has your back and your front. He’s on your right and your left. He’s the sky above you and the ground below you. What an adventure awaits! Sure, some days will be really hard. But who knows, it might also be joyous! After all, didn’t he say, “Lol [okay, yes, it’s actually Lo!], I am with you always, even to the end of the world!”