When I walk for exercise or to reach a destination, when I stand to speak to someone or to wait in line, when I sit in public to wait or rest, I am used to doing these things with a spirit of not wanting to take up too much space. I inwardly shrink, which sometimes reflects in my posture and, I fear, a stance of submission that others may pick up on. Unfortunately, I have experienced this stance to be exploited often, as have many others who were abused as children.
We tend to not want to be like our abuser/s, who were “larger than life” in the stances they had to us and others in their lives, whether by attitude or physically. My maternal abuser was a shouter and loud speaker, puffed up when angry or proud, walked with an air that everyone just needs to get out of the way. I learned to take up as little space as possible, also physically and by attitude, in order to stay under her radar, as well as that I saw her example as a way NOT to be in life.
On my most recent walk/jog around the neighbourhood I realized I often feel self-conscious and more aware of how I may come across to someone who would see me. It occurred to me that I was attempting to hide even though I was walking in broad daylight, and that I always move in the world this way. I prayed and asked God for an understanding of how others who are more healthy see themselves in relation to the environment around them.
Whether in answer to that prayer or just in a general work of healing God has been doing for me lately, this thought occurred to me: I reacted to my abuse by trying to be smaller than I am and to not take up even the space allotted to me. When I am more healed, I thought, I will walk, stand, and be in the space my body and self need to take up, and without apologizing for it.
Those who are not meek take more than what is needed or allotted to them, thus taking from those who also have need of those things. To be meek in Christ is not to be cringing and apologetic for being here, for needing things, for speaking, etc. To be meek is to take up with gratitude what God has given us, not more than, and not less than. “Give us this day our daily bread…” May all our brothers and sisters receive today what they need, even space and a sense of belonging in the world, without rejecting what has already been given us.
We are not of this world, but we are in it nonetheless. May I learn to know my legitimate use of the space my body takes and the influence my soul has on the world.