Webster's simple definitions of space are:
1. The amount of an area, room, surface, etc., that is empty or available for use.
2. An area that is used or available for a specific purpose.
3. An empty area between things.
Some synonyms of space are: amplitude, capacity, elbowroom, expansion, reach, distance.
This could mean physical, personal, emotional, outer... It can also be positive or negative.
At first, my mind immediately went to the sheer vastness and openness there is in really ALL the places I visited in the US including New York City and Chicago. I LOVE the outdoors! I LOVE being able to be outside and all I can see is fields and fields of just open space. But even in the cities there was a much larger ratio of space to person than there is in Lima. Lima is a city of 9 million people and growing in a very small footprint. So, because of this, everyone and everything is MUCH closer together. I do miss this kind of space in Lima.
There is for sure a difference between personal space among North Americans and Peruvians. At first I thought it was just because physically Peruvians (in Lima) are used to being all crammed into small spaces together more often for example on buses and in markets, but really that is not it. Because this is true even in the provinces of Peru where there is more land and space. This one has more to do with culture. One is not better than the other, only it is just a difference and can be perceived differently from outsiders if cultural differences are not understood.
What comes to mind when I think about emotional space are those times maybe when you might be annoyed, hurt, or angry at someone. Oftentimes, taking some "emotional space" away helps. But then it got me thinking about the emotional space that can be hurtful. The kind when people feel alone, unsupported or isolated. You can't see emotional space, but you can see the effects of it. You can see a positive outcome of taking some time to cool down after an argument and then being able to come back and resolve the conflict better. You can also see how the feelings of being alone can make a person retreat more into themselves and then cause more space of all kinds between them and others.
The definition that struck me the most was the third one. "An empty area between things". Empty. I guess I can understand that definition, because there is nothing to visibly to see. But there is a choice in what you can put in that empty space. You can make that space a barrier to stay away from people, or you can press in a little more. Get in a little closer so that there is less of it between you and another person. You can radiate that space that is around you with warmth and kindness so that it fills not just your space but flows into another person.
Being an introvert, I love my space, but I also have found that in the past 3 years of living in Peru, I have grown to want more people leaning into me and me into others to decrease the distance. A lot of the people I know here in Peru are good at that. It feels good to be received with arms wide open and I have learned to enjoy less space than I had before. I had that opportunity this past 7 weeks in the US to lean into many people I care deeply about. I was also happy to be able to receive the kindness and generosity of many people opening their homes to me from California, all the way to New York City and Philadelphia, and I hope that we all benefited. I have also been able to see God use these same people (and others I didn't personally see) to help answer my 5th prayer request about raising money to buy a car. Right now, I am only short 4500$ in pledges to reach my goal of 15,000$ in support for my car! Can you believe that?!!!
As I enter back into my time in Peru, and adjust back to less physical and personal space, I ask for specific prayers regarding the following things.
1. That I can continue to lean into people here through all the ways I am serving here so they can know Jesus.
2. That I get that remaining 4500$ to buy the car I am in need of. (If you feel led to help with this answered prayer-please contact me about how to go about doing that!)
3. That I can continue to grow deeper roots and build deeper relationships so I can fill my spaces with all things good.
As always, I thank you for your continued support and prayers. And, I challenge you to decrease the space you have between you and someone else and lean into them. Fill the spaces with all things good. Thank you and God Bless.