Three weeks ago, Trinity Family Support Network started running the second cycle of our Fathers’ Group. I’ve been a part of delivering and organising it and as I learn to run these groups – to create a place where fathers who are really struggling, can find peace amongst themselves – I have been struck with the concept of having and creating space. It is a strange concept out of context, but it makes a lot of sense and really helps me day to day, as I have been practising it.
Basically, it is linked to the fact that we all have a myriad of responsibilities, relationships, worries, problems and things that just come up that we aren’t expecting them – all of which take up a lot of emotional space, energy and time. When we are juggling life and everything in it, our space can fill up very quickly and things like family or self-care just don’t have anywhere to fit in. The biggest problem with this is that the things we normally do to create space get left out. So, we never really have the opportunity to handle the increasing demands.
The particular thing I have been doing lately, to create space, is to do a quick 5 minute meditation and then pray for a couple of minutes – as some of the Christian monastic orders would do. I have been practising letting my worries, in particular, pass by without paying them too much mind, so they do not fill up my space. I’ve found that doing this helps me feel more like I’m present and able to be with God as I head out, rather than my worries going with me into my day.
One of my favorite Bible stories, that relates to this, is from 2 Kings. It is about an army that is surrounding a prophet of God and his servant. The servant awakens to see thousands of soldiers who want to kill them. The prophet is not blind to the soldiers, but he also sees the victory of God. He sees God’s promise and knows they aren’t really in trouble because God is on their side. It takes the prophet, in his wisdom, to help the servant clear his space to have enough room for God’s reality to sink in.
I don’t wake up to that particular scene, of course, but it can certainly feel like there are a thousand problems I have to fight. So, as I start a day, I can either be like the servant or I can be like the prophet. I can acknowledge the problems but, knowing that God is with me, I can refuse to let them overtake me. I don’t need to lose my mind over them being there!
For me, this is creating space, and it could be the same for the men in the Fathers’ Group who are faced with a thousand things they need to fix.
The best thing I have been learning lately, is that I can help others find this space for themselves – but only if I have done it for myself first.