Friday, July 3, 2015

The Best of the Archives: Liminal Space

( A version of this post first appeared in Seekerville on July 10, 2010.)


Have you ever gone through a period in life where the same theme, the same message keeps slapping you in the face? After six or seven slaps you finally realize, "Hey, someone is trying to tell me something."

What about the theme of closed doors and open windows? Are you facing challenges in deciding what your next step will be? 

Since I first sold, I have regularly experienced periods where I have real difficulties in understanding where I should be on this writing journey. Those times when my compass is swirling, I'm overwhelmed and I don't know which path to follow. 

That's when I remember the concept of liminal space.


Psychologists call "liminal space," a place where boundaries dissolve a little and we stand there, on the threshold, getting ourselves ready to move across the limits of what we were into what we are to be. (definition from parole)



Think of liminal space as the place where you arrive after you leave one room and have not yet entered another. The space between the closed door and open window.


The concept of liminal space and thresholds isn't simply scary. It's terrifying.

So, why is liminal space so important? Because it allows us to arrive at the place of transformation and you cannot experience transformation unless you let go.

To let go you need faith.

Pastor David Jensen says this in a sermon on liminal space:

"I'm going to show the courage not to retreat back to what was and I'm going to be patient not to jump into what I think ought to be, but I'm going to stand in liminal space. I am going to trust that as I stand on the threshold it is pregnant with the possibilities of God."



Let go of the comfortable and familiar and be willing to embrace the uncomfortable and the unfamiliar...the possibilities.

Jeff Goin's book, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing (released three years after this post) says this about liminality:


Life is waiting. Not just waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting to renew your driver’s license,  but waiting to love and commit and find the work you were meant to do. Our lives are full of inconvenient setbacks, not due to some great cosmic mistake but because of some divine purpose we don’t comprehend. In the waiting, we become.

Standing in liminal space isn't about jumping off the cliff into the unknown, it's about embracing the cliff.

Can you hang in the that space of change, and embrace it, waiting on the threshold-- waiting for your life to meet you?

Maybe, like me, it's time you  stopped trying to make your old journey fit your  new destination, instead let's sit on the cliff peacefully waiting for what's to come.

"For we which have believed do enter into rest.." Hebrews 4:3


What do you think?





Comment today for an opportunity to win a 10 page critique for a writer and for a reader, a Kindle or print  edition of Safe in the Fireman's Arms and /or a Kindle version of With This Kiss Contemporary Novella Collection,  that includes my novella, No Time For Love. And for one more winner, a copy of Mary Connealy's Now & Forever.



 Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

You can download a preview of Jeff Goin's book here.


Happy Holiday, Seekerville!

92 comments:

Vince said...

.
Liminal space is where time travel happens.
Transformation is arriving before you have left.
Change stands in need of outward criteria. Transformation never happens. It always exists as having had happened. Like a quantum particle it appears in a new location without having moved. You don't have to understand it -- it understands you.

Mary Preston said...

It is an interesting concept. Thank you. I enjoyed reading through the post.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love the depth of "liminal space". I like molding transitions in stories, I like seeing people self-prepare for what they think they can't do. Raising so many children has shown me this concept repeatedly because children test it and thwart it and conquer it daily.

Adults think too much. Or maybe it's because they have reasonable knowledge of outcome vs. risk.

Either way, using that is what deepens a story, what takes it to the spiritual and human depths of whys and what ifs.

Dystopian authors use this concept/reality to their advantage, it's what draws young readers in like flies to a picnic.

So well said, Tina!

Tina Radcliffe said...

You know time travel would explain a lot of things. Like that empty ice cream dish in the sink.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Happy Friday, Seekerville. Cinnabon coffee and cinnamon rolls are here. Morning, Mary Preston!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well said, Tina? Well lived, Tina!! Ha! Happy Friday, Ruthy!

Barbara Scott said...

Good morning, Tina! As we would have said in the 60s, "really deep, man." I didn't know the concept of stepping into the unknown, or rather waiting in that misty doorway, had a name: liminal space. It takes great faith to leave behind the familiar, the comfortable, the known to cross the threshold into a new reality. It takes even greater faith to pause in that space and wait for God--to embrace the cliff. Writers live in liminal space.

While I'm waiting there, I'd love to read the With This Kiss novella collection. I've already read Safe in the Fireman's Arms (excellent BTW!!) and Mary's Now & Forever (love, love, loved it!!).

I brought my own coffee, but I'd love a cinnamon roll. :)

Tracey Hagwood said...

Wow Tina! I'll say it, well said! Great article on liminal space. I didn't know it had a name but I've certainly experienced it. That Joseph Campbell quote:

"We have to be willing to let go of the life we planned,
So as to accept the life that is waiting for us"

This is one of my biggest struggles daily, as I liked the life I had planned, it feels like the death of a dream in so many ways. In the "waiting room" I can only wonder if I'll be able to accept with grace the life I'll really step into. I'll be pondering on this for awhile.

Please enter me in the drawing for Now and Forever, as I already have the other two wonderful offerings.

Happy Fourth of July my friends, I'm thanking God for all of you and for the true Freedom that only comes from Him.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Tina said "..stop trying to make your old journey fit you new destination,
Instead let's sit on the cliff peacefully waiting for what's to come"

Maybe that's part of my problem, I've never liked heights. I'm trying to imagine a "peacefull" cliffhanger, haha :)

Caryl Kane said...

I loved this fascinating post! I feel that I am hanging out in LIMINAL SPACE! It is definitely a place of faith!

kaybee said...

This touches on what I've been thinking on lately, not so much with my writing, but with life in general. Our denomination had a district-wide convention in May and there was a fabulous speaker on the Millennials and what they want from a church. It shattered my whole way of thinking, and put it back together differently. No, scratch that, He's still putting me back together and I am questioning the way I did, well, everything, not just in the church but in my life. So I'm sure it will spread to the writing. "Oh brave new world that has such people in it." The Shakespeare one, not the Orwell one.
Kathy Bailey
Sorting it out in New Hampshire

Tina Radcliffe said...

I know, Barbara, scary deep for early am, right? Stay away from the cliff with that coffee in your hand.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Lol, yeah, Tracey, it's all a walk in the dark or faith.

Debby Giusti said...

I loved this post in 2010. Love it today as well. And I remembered what you had written, which often played through my mind. I see liminal space as spiritual...where we go in contemplative prayer to wait upon the Lord. Sometimes we go deeper. Sometime we remain in that waiting space.

Liminal space can apply to our characters, as they change from their identity to their essence, as Michael huge talks about. The transition takes time and can threaten the character's peace of mind. He/she can't go back and fears moving forward.

Thanks, Tina. A blog post that needs to be revisited often.

Rachael Koppendrayer said...

I think I'm the sort of person who wants to hang out in that liminal space indefinitely - at least there I kind of know what's going on, whereas I only have suspicions of what is going on on the other side. As Debbie Giusti pointed out: I can't go back and fear moving forward. But then someone/something inevitably shoves me over to the other side. And thus far, I've even survived!

Myra Johnson said...

A post worthy of repeating--thanks, TINA!

As for VINCE's comment, I need to reread it. Several times. You're making me think too hard this early in the morning!

Kathryn Barker said...

Tina...I have tears in my eyes as I comment...I REALLY needed this post TODAY!! Thank you!! It's a keeper!!

I thought I understood the concept Joseph Campbell put so succinctly into words..."We have to be willing to let go of the life we planned, So as to accept the life that is waiting for us"... but I never dreamed I'd be letting go over and over and over again...I'm gonna have one of my artistically creative friends make me a sign...maybe if I read the words over and over, my brain will accept the reality! LOL

I'd love to be entered into the drawing! Thanks.

Irish Breakfast tea is in my cup...cinnamon rolls are delish with tea! Wishing everyone safe and wonderful 4th of July celebrations!

Wilani Wahl said...

This is a great post! I have been there so many times. God is faithful to give us the guidance and direction in taking our next step. At one such time in my life I would go to the waterfalls that were only 4 miles from my home. I knew of a quiet place off the beaten path where I could sit on a rock by the river soaking in the beauty of His creation and feeling His peace.

I hope everyone will have a great 4th of July weekend.

Cara Lynn James said...

I'm living in liminal space right now and it's uncomfortable, scarey but exciting.

Cindy Regnier said...

I have been MIA for a few weeks because of my family's fireworks stand (in our garage) which takes a whole lot more work and effort than most people realize. In a moment of intense stress I turned to Seekerville this morning and read this "it's about embracing the cliff." OK- here I go, embracing the cliff and getting through the next few days. I'm so ready to leave behind this liminal space. Thanks for the much needed encouragement.

Mary Lawson said...

This is somewhere I think I am in some places in my life now. Many things to think about over a morning glass of ice tea.

Audra Harders said...

Not jumping off the cliff but embracing the cliff. I love that message. Must remember to do more of that.

Thanks for resurrecting this post. It's very timely!!!

Have a happy 4th everyone!!!

Audra Harders said...

Vince, you're always such a deep thinker! Liminal Space and Quantum Physics? Wow. You are so beyond this little pea brain, LOL!!

Audra Harders said...

Tracey said:

That Joseph Campbell quote:

"We have to be willing to let go of the life we planned,
So as to accept the life that is waiting for us"

How true is this!! In my devotions this morning I read about God making only one Me. I have a purpose and He knows what it is. How sad to think we might miss the awesome journey He has in store for us if we cling to the plans we make for ourselves??

Embrace the cliff until He tells you to let go. Remember, He will always catch you : )

Audra Harders said...

Rachel, remember what they say about that first step being a doozie. But oh what you miss by not stepping out for the ride!!!!!

Janet Dean said...


"I'm going to show the courage not to retreat back to what was and I'm going to be patient not to jump into what I think ought to be, but I'm going to stand in liminal space. I am going to trust that as I stand on the threshold it is pregnant with the possibilities of God."

Tina, the timing for revisiting this inspiring post is perfect. I'm awed as I know exactly who needs to read it and will be blessed by it, as I have. Thank you!

And thank you for the delicious cinnamon rolls.

Janet

Davalyn Spencer said...

Exactly what I needed to hear today. Loved this: Standing in liminal space isn't about jumping off the cliff into the unknown, it's about embracing the cliff.

Janet Dean said...

My dh and I have recently returned from a visit to Colonial/Revolutionary Williamsburg, a fabulous step back in time we always enjoy. This visit was close to our nation's birthday that I'm even more appreciative of the wise men who wrote the documents and the courageous men who fought that we might have freedom, and for all those who have protected that freedom since. May God bless America.

Happy 4th Seekerville!

Janet

Tina Radcliffe said...

We'll rotate who brings snacks to luminal space, Caryl!!! Ha!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Exactly, Debby, this also reflects the character arc!

Janet Dean said...

Kind of hard to get the grill up the cliff, but I've got it going now. Burgers, brats and dogs coming soon.

Janet

Courtney Ballinger said...

Good morning! I've never read this post. Thanks for re-posting!

This is one of my favorite holidays. Praying y'all enjoy the weekend--and meet any writing goals.


I'd love to be entered for the critique. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Embrace this time, KAthy! Good things are coming!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Ruthy is our Cliff shover here in Seekerville, Rachael! Shall I summon her?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Truly, Vince keeps us all on our toes!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Kathryn, giving you a virtual hug! Now pass the tea!

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, I loved revisiting this post! Such a great reminder. I've been in that place so many times.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Wilani! Good to see you. Back from your travels???

Tina Radcliffe said...

It is incomfotable, Cara. But moving out of our comfort zone is always scary and exciting.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Praying for you, Cindy R!

Tina Radcliffe said...

You and me both, Mary Lawson. We can hold each other up!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Amen. cowgirl, Audra. He won't give you any more Bulls than you can handle!!!

Missy Tippens said...

Rachael, I agree. Sometimes it's scarier when we move on out of that space.

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, this was the perfect time to visit there!

Happy 4th, everyone!

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy, I'm wishing you great sales!! I need to go buy some sparklers. Yes, I'm a wimp. LOL

CatMom said...

I also needed this post today - - thank you!

Was trying to figure out why it wasn't familiar to me - - then I looked at the original posting date, and that was the day I was discharged from my hospital stay after my spinal surgeries - - no wonder I didn't remember reading it, LOL.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe 4th of July.
May we always remember how blessed we are here in the USA.
Hugs, Patti Jo

Sally Shupe said...

Love this post! The message of Let Go applies to so many areas. Let go of the past, let go of fears, my favorite: Let go and let God. "Let go of the comfortable and familiar and be willing to embrace the uncomfortable and the unfamiliar...the possibilities." Stepping out of our comfort zone leads to embracing our life. You are open to what could be. Just do it. I am comfortable in my current day job. I felt God leading to another position. When I looked at the job line where I work, a job I had wanted previously but felt like I didn't have the qualification for had opened up. I applied and had an interview yesterday. Now is the hard part: waiting! But then this post today on waiting. With my writing, I've found when setbacks occur and I can't find the time to write, when I get back to it, something clicks. Maybe those setbacks are designed to have my writing on a timeline I can't see. God knows what's ahead. I just need to trust him with the waiting, the letting go, the possibilities of God.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Kathryn, I think you hit the crux of it: That these things happen repeatedly. Which means, we jig/jag/jug along with them.

Think of Robert Frost, a beloved poet, who worked all kinds of odd jobs, had his life interrupted repeatedly, but always felt he was meant to be a poet. His first farm, a gift from his grandfather, was a failure, and he went on to teaching and doing this and that... And then eventually bought another farm, and began teaching English in a college, even though he'd never graduated from college.

Can you imagine that now?

We have to chug over those bumps, bends and twists, just like the Little Engine That Could. We're tough enough!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Rachael, I'm the shover! :)

I'm back there prodding, nudging, pushing.

#obnoxious!!! :)

But I totally hear you, when you're uncomfortable with moving forward, the changes can be daunting.

(My husband is like you, I think the poor man has chronically knitted brows, trying to figure out what I might do next.)

Meghan Carver said...

Sometimes I don't make it here on Fridays, since my husband is off work, but I am so glad I made the time today! I'm clipping this one to Evernote under my Encouragement file! And DEBBY, you are right about the prayer...lots of it, seeking God's face and His direction for what comes next. For the giveaway, can I be a reader? All of those books look fantastic! Have a terrific weekend, Seekerville. I'm grateful for all you do here! :-)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Happy 4th to you too, Janet. Let's find some big manly men for that grill!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Thanks, Davalynn, good to see you! Waving my flag in your direction!

Becky Dempsey said...

Liminal Space is not a fun space to be, but this was a good reminder to wait and trust God. I'd love to win the books.

Bettie said...

I'm standing in the doorway trying to push my way through. I would be happy to win the contemporary collection. I've read the other books. Thank you seekers for all the great inspiration you provide.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Seriously, Courtney, you are a Ysnkee Doodle fan! Cool!

Deanna Stevens said...

Happy 4th to you all!
Boy, do I wish I had more space..
great pictures, gave me something to ponder today..
toss me into the drawing too please, Thanks

Tina Radcliffe said...

Happy Fourth, Deanna!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Amen, Sally!! Good to see you, btw!

Tina Radcliffe said...

We are blessed, Patti Jo. And praise Gid surgery is in the past!

Walt Mussell said...

Embracing the cliff? It sounds like my son who would rather take the mound with the bases loaded and nobody out than actually start the game.

LeAnne Bristow said...

From the person who has been banging their head against a wall until they finally decided to shut up and be quiet and listen to God, this post couldn't have come at a better time. Sometimes it's so hard to quit pushing our own agenda and let God lead us to a new one...even though we know his will has a much better outcome than our own. Humans are stubborn like that. Or maybe it's just me.
Anyway, I'd love to be included in the drawing for a critique.
Have a fabulous fourth!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Patti Jo, I second your USA commendation. We are so blessed!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

WALT. I LOVE THAT IN A KID. THE MARIANO RIVERA MENTALITY. THE KILLER MINDSET AND NO ONE HAS TO REALLY DIE!!!!

Bless his heart, that's a rarity in any sport. That's the goalie in soccer and hockey. And the catcher, standing on the plate, waiting for the ball!

We need those kinds of players, right alongside the daisy pickers in t-ball right field!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Becky, sometimes I wonder if it's not a fun place to be because we're too busy pushing our own agenda... or, too impatient.

Or maybe we need chocolate. Or a pedicure.

I won't deny that I find these things majorly helpful. :)

Jill Weatherholt said...

Wow Tina! This post struck a chord with me today The past several months I've slowly embraced the uncomfortable. At times, it's been really uncomfortable, but it's beginning to feel familiar. When I think of the possibilities, it's pretty awesome. Thank you for this. Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July.

Julie Lessman said...

"Since I first sold, I have regularly experienced periods where I have real difficulties in understanding where I should be on this writing journey. Those times when my compass is swirling, I'm overwhelmed and I don't know which path to follow."

YES, YES, YES," says Julie, waving hands in the air in frantic agreement. And the quotes you picked today are like spiritual lightbulbs (no, baseball field spots!!), so THANK YOU for the inspiration you have supplied to me today -- obviously very timeless info since this archive blog is five years old!!

"Life is waiting. Not just waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting to renew your driver’s license, but waiting to love and commit and find the work you were meant to do. Our lives are full of inconvenient setbacks, not due to some great cosmic mistake but because of some divine purpose we don’t comprehend. In the waiting, we become"

HOLY COW ... I'm sending this one to my daughter because BOTH of us need this one right now ...

AND: "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.

I learned this last year on my sabbatical, and it's a powerful lesson that will save one's life.

GREAT blog, Teenster, as fresh and timeless as the day you penned it.

Hugs,
Julie

Jana Vanderslice said...

Oh WOW! This is Exactly where I am right now! With a double stress fracture/broken leg & 6 More weeks on crutches (plus a zillion other things going on), I am literally having to sit still. God keeps trying to tell me to just rest & be happy right now. I'd much rather be jumping off that cliff & climbing mountains & doing something to make an impact on the world! God's still got some work to do with me. That's a good thing.

Thank You, Tina the Great!!

Jana Vanderslice said...

And did anyone else's mind immediately jump from Linimal Space to Shel Silverstein's "The Place Where the Sidewalk Ends" ? I loved this poem as a kid & as a teacher! Here it is...

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/shel_silverstein/poems/14836

Tina Radcliffe said...

Becky D. Good to see you, too. Change makes us squirmy uncomfortable. But in the end....

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well some of us are cliff dwellers, Walt. Not me. But there are a few of the Seekers who love the clutch.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yeah, bruises on your forehead are a giveaway that you are trying to go through a door that is not supposed to be open when there is a perfectly good open window waiting for you to recognize it, LeAnne.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Hey, Jill good to see you. Love your new profile pix.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Gosh, Janna. That poem gave me chills. Thanks for sharing. It's been a long time since I've read it.

Praying for swift healing. Enjoy your down time.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I should make t-shirts with those quotes and pass them out, Julie!

Mary Hicks said...

This post must have come around the first time before I found you guys. :-) Thanks for re-posting Tina, it's a great reminder to be still and wait.

Something I believe we all need at times—like every other day!

Happy 4th. to all, and be safe!!!

Tanya Agler said...

Tina, thank you for reposting this blog. I totally understood the concept of liminal space in regards to my writing journey. Sitting on a cliff? Wow. Pretty strong stuff, but waiting for what's ahead? With God's help and the people He's sending my way to help me (Seekers, GRW, other writing friends), I'm doing my best.

Please enter me in the critique drawing. Something just is not gelling in my last WIP that I'll be editing after I finish this WIP. But sitting on the cliff and giving it a couple of weeks to cool off will hopefully refresh me to whip it into shape.

Thanks for the reminder that no matter whether we're at the door, that liminal space, or reaching that open window, the whole journey is there for a reason and meant to be enjoyed.

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

I remember this one. Didn't realize it's been that long ago. Then I was in liminal space and anxious. I can say I'm peacefully sitting on the cliff today. I'm reminded of the Scripture that says, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." I'd like my name in for the 10 page critique. Many thanks, Tina, for reposting this.

A happy and blessed Fourth of July and weekend to everyone.

Mary Connealy said...

I love this, Tina. It makes me think of all the times i've lunged forward or held back when I should have paused and waited. Allowed the moment, that hour, that season to linger as I decide where I'm meant to be.

Tina Radcliffe said...

" Allowed the moment, that hour, that season to linger as I decide where I'm meant to be."

I like that too Mary Connealy. Maybe we should all savor where we are.

Sometimes in our rush for the next journey we forget to savor where we are.

Tina Radcliffe said...

" Allowed the moment, that hour, that season to linger as I decide where I'm meant to be."

I like that too Mary Connealy. Maybe we should all savor where we are.

Sometimes in our rush for the next journey we forget to savor where we are.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Mary Hicks. You speak of a time called BS. hahahahaha Before Seekerville

Tina Radcliffe said...

Tanya, you so get it!!!! Exactly.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Pat Jeanne, what a kick it always is to look back and see your growth in Christ.

Chill N said...

Can you hang in the that space of change, and embrace it, waiting on the threshold-- waiting for your life to meet you?

So much to meditate on in your post, Tina. Thanks ... I think :-)

Nancy C

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yeah, I gave myself a headache thinking too much today, Nancy.

Pat W said...

So incredible. Isn't it amazing how God puts thoughts and ideas right in front of us at the exact moment we need to hear/see them? Loved this.

Robin Mason said...

what did you say? "Have you ever gone through a period in life where the same theme, the same message keeps slapping you in the face? After six or seven slaps you finally realize, "Hey, someone is trying to tell me something."

yeah, so this very post is one of those. how many times over how many years have i been in the liminal position [aka in between] and i thought i was doing something wrong [read, failed] because the anticipated promise had not yet manifest.

i'm in slow motion, moving from one "room" to the new, from broken and defeated to whole, healthy and victorious. from living as the tail to reigning as the head.

Father is letting me know i'm ok, to lean in to Him, and trust in this liminal time, knowing His fulness is indeed at hand.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well said, Robin. You get it!! Takes us a while but when we do ..Viola!

Sarah Claucherty said...

I love that poem! I don't think I've come across it before, but I'm saving it now. Ah, Shel Silverstein...

Thanks for the liminal space post, Tina! That's kind of where I'm at these days...

Mary Connealy said...

If we linger in that moment of change, on the threshold of what's next....can we do it in a recliner?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yes. Mary. If you get the recliner up the mountain to the cliff you can use it.

Karen Wingate said...

Wow! That's where I am right now. So powerful. Thanks for the encouragement to sit and enjoy the wait and to learn from it.