Let There Be Spaces in Our Togetherness

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ashley kizito -let there be spaces in our togetherness-3By Ashley Kizito | Twitter: @ashleyrhapsody | Instagram: @theashleyrhapsody

A workmate asked me the other day if I had heard of the term,“Crown Shyness.” I had not. He has no hair, so I assumed he was on the verge of making a bald joke. He proceeded to show me some pictures, not of bashful bald men, but of trees.

crown shyness

See the spaces? The whimsical cracks in the canopy?

“Crown shyness” appears only in certain species of trees where the crowns of fully grown trees do not touch. Apparently scientists have not been able to determine one lone reason for this phenomenon, but there are several well-educated hypotheses:

  1. The trees are making space for the light.
  2. The trees are protecting their leaves from bugs on other plants.
  3. The trees are keeping themselves from growing into each other.
  4. The trees have brushed together too closely, leaving spaces between them.

Crowd Shyness

I have been in a season of my own human version of Crown Shyness. I am going to call it, “Crowd Shyness.”

I’d put a great deal of space between myself and many people and communities over the past five years; including the SheLoves community. I softened my grip on the hands I had held for years, and stepped back. It was hard and it hurt.

To know me is to know “shy” is not a word many would use to describe me. It does not matter how many personality tests I take, my results are always “extrovert.” So unexpectedly finding that public events and social gatherings left me hyperventilating in the ladies bathroom was an altogether new experience for me. I quickly went from being the life of the party to being the woman who “can’t go out tonight,” because she “needs to wash her hair.”

In the same way scientists had hypotheses about the wonders of crown shyness, I too had some hypotheses about the sudden development of my crowd shyness:

  1. Working with children and gaining knowledge about germs had finally gotten to me and I had become a germaphobe.
  2. My lack of boundaries had finally turned me into an incurable homebody.
  3. Being newly married, I had convinced myself my husband was now the only friend I required.
  4. A traumatic church experience broke my heart and caused me to throw in the towel.

Upon further reflection I determined there is some truth to all of these points.

Church and Other Necessary Spaces

I have worked and volunteered in church ministry for over 13 years. In my heyday, I was a Super Christian: I taught children’s church, I was in the worship band, led missionary teams and read I Kissed Dating Goodbye cover to cover. I even held the title of pastor for some time. The church where I pastored soon became much more than merely “church” to me. I had little family to speak of, so church became my whole world: my holy community, my source of income, my social life, my spiritual family, and my actual family.

I had grown into this community in such a way that my roots were not merely down deep, but all my branches were intertwined–so intertwined that there was little room for any Light to work its way in. I no longer knew who I was apart from this church. When that crashed, I was utterly devastated.

I felt a deep sense of loss. I viewed separation from church and its leaders as a separation from God. I assumed if I wasn’t good enough to be part of the church (or at least that specific church), then surely God wanted nothing to do with me either.

I did not know who to trust or who to turn to, so I made the prudent decision to take a chainsaw to the whole damn forest.

Let There Be Spaces

In high school, our music teacher came across a song composed by a local musician who borrowed the lyrics from the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. There was a part of the song which, to this day, I recall as one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. My friend and I would sing one of the lines together over and over until the words began to lose meaning:

“But let there be … but let there be … spaces … spaces in your togetherness.”

Every relationship and community requires a certain level of space. For the same reason the trees exhibit crown shyness, we as humans need to leave space for one another. Space for the Light to shine between us. Space for boundaries. Space to keep us from becoming so intertwined that we hinder one another’s growth.

As I developed “crowd shyness,” I did what many of us do: I overcorrected. I was hurt by one faith community, so I dropped all of my faith communities. I felt betrayed by a few people, so I detached from everyone. I had been hurt, so I determined in my own heart I would not feel that way again. I built impenetrable walls to protect me from “togetherness,” when in reality, all I required was a little space; spaces within my togetherness.

So, to all of those struggling with where and how they fit within their communities (extroverts and introverts alike), to all of those who are searching for the balance between space and togetherness, my prayer is this: “May there be spaces in your togetherness. May the winds of heaven dance between you. May you give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.” —Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

________________

About Ashley:

IMG_3256Hi friends! My name is Ashley Kizito. My life’s mission is to use my voice to bring joy; whether I’m singing, speaking, or writing.

 My husband and I live in Vancouver B.C. but also call Uganda our home. In a constant pursuit to become more like the VonTrapp family from “The Sound of Music,” my husband and I have a band, Giddy + Ashley, and also lead worship locally and beyond.

I have worked in Christian ministry for over a decade as a Children’s Pastor, a volunteer for Watoto Childcare Ministries in Uganda, and now as an Education Assistant at a Christian High School. Teenagers are marvellous creatures who keep me young while simultaneously reminding me of how old I am.

 I am passionate about young people discovering their God-given potential, and the power that music has to refresh and heal.

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Comments

  1. So grateful your voice is here again … And I love that you have learned this hard, but beautiful lesson to share.

  2. Tammy Chase Whitney says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your words spoke life into my heart! I am a pastor in a denomination that feels like all or nothing and at one point I felt like I was suffocating. Now that I have made that space people within our denomination often look at me with raised eyebrows until they start feeling the need for it too. Giving myself space to breathe and grow and for God to work has been the healthiest thing.

    • Ashley Kizito says:

      Power to ya Tammy! It is so hard to set boundaries and create space ESPECIALLY when it feels like others aren’t on the same page. I am still learning how to create these spaces (you know, things like saying “no” sometimes). Haven’t mastered it yet 😉 Thanks for sharing Tammy; so lovely to get a tiny glimpse of your story. xoxo

  3. So much cautionary wisdom here, Ashley.
    And thank you for sharing the Crown Shyness phenomenon. It’s such a picturesque way of thinking about a healthy and measured togetherness.

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