What does it take to make a space feel sacred? It’s less about specifics and more about the intention and posture in how we engage the world. Kimberly English shares how overcoming shame can help transform the environment around us into a unique expression of our true selves.
There is a life inside each of us that wants to be lived. The promise of it is here within us, even on the days when we’re the worst version of ourselves.
I'm going to talk about waking up to yourself and to the presence of God as you create spaces for that to happen. Most of what I’m going to focus on has to do with physical space (your house or apartment or even your room). But I’m also talking about your heart, about feeling at home within yourself and your own life.
It's Not About Perfection
I think the reason most of us aren’t drawn to perfection is because we know that it doesn’t really exist in what we see around us. Flaws are there, but hidden. It is our insecurity that tricks us into thinking that perfection exists and that we don’t have it.
On a deep level, though, it isn’t perfection we want. We just want to believe that something could be seen completely (flaws and all) and still receive acceptance. Because if that were true, we could be seen, flaws and all, and receive acceptance.
It's About Honesty
This is what we long for, and once we figure it out within our own hearts, we can provide it for others. It’s one of the ways our space reflects something about who we are.
If we are scared of imperfection and welcome someone into our space by apologizing for its imperfection (dirty dishes are sitting out), we reveal that we aren’t at ease with our own true life. And it’s the message we send to anyone who enters it with us: your true life also might not be welcome here. At best, we’ll see each other’s struggle…and apologize for it.
"Sacred space is where all the parts of who we are feel welcome."—Kimberly English
A sacred space is the place where the wounded parts sense no accusation but are instead given a seat at the table and a shared meal. I’m speaking figuratively, but this is how our spaces reflect the welcoming heart of God. He turns no needy one away, not even the wounded and desperate parts of someone’s heart.
This is why the deliberate act of creating sacred space is so important—it gives us a chance to build something based on the truest parts of our being. These are the parts that are in touch with God and offer loving acceptance.
Sacredness can happen in your living room, or your kitchen, or an armchair. The act of setting a vase on your desk can be an act of intent, like a prayer. Consider these four traits for any space you create.
Four Traits of Sacred Space
It just feels right. Sacred space doesn’t weigh us down. It feels proportionate and easy and leaves room for possibility, like you’re welcome in your own life, not choked by it.
Safe. Like a shelter from the storm or a place to bind wounds. Our sacred spaces are as much for us as they are for others. That doesn’t mean there aren’t boundaries, because we need boundaries to be emotionally safe. But think of the boundaries more like explanations than walls that keep people out.
Minimal. But only in terms of not living a life that’s best purpose is hindered by materialism. The journey is about knowing yourself and what you need, then living in open-handedness if the rest needs to fall away. This can’t be an exercise in guilt. There’s beauty in severe minimalism, but there’s also beauty in having a bit more than you need because it's an opportunity for generosity. I think the trick is to hold lightly all that we don’t need. Your inner teacher has good instincts! If something makes you feel constricted and stressed, it’s often an indicator of the need for change or release.
Honest. Not perfect, because it’s a part of who you are. An honest space will have a feeling of being complete, comfortable with itself. At first, it might feel embarrassing to embrace confidence in what you create because the false self is all about faking perfection, and when your true self creates an honest place, the false self will probably try to hijack it. Take time to get used to things, and it’ll begin to feel natural. Other people will feel it too.
I still remember when I first began to accept my way of being in the world. My spaces have a certain flavor, only because they reflect parts of who I am. I tend to feel stressed by clutter, and so my warmth can feel overly simple sometimes. It took me a while to stop apologizing for what I made.
No one was asking me to, and by apologizing I was only dishonoring the part of me that created it. I was dishonoring the joy God had brought to life in me. And that’s an unmerciful way to treat ourselves.
No Room for Shame
I've discovered that a space becomes sacred the moment you decide it is a place of welcome. And the gift of it isn’t in its perfection. That would only be a façade. The gift is in the acceptance of all just as it is. Why? Because of a deep belief that we don’t have to live in shame.
“Instead of shame, My people will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation, they will rejoice in their share; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.”—Isaiah 61:7
So be encouraged in this practice of being at home within yourself and creating places where you can welcome others into that feeling. It’s less about specifics and more about intention and posture in how we engage the world. It’s a holy thing, and your version of it will bless the rest of us.
Telling our stories is one of the most powerful ways we can illustrate how God is real and active in our lives. Sharing them can lead to real and meaningful connections with one another. At theHeart, we want to be known for the stories we share with one another. By doing so, we can grow closer as a church family. And we can inspire each other to confidently live a life that is uniquely focused on demonstrating Christ's Love. Do you love telling stories through written word, video, photography, or artwork?
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