Imminence vs Immanence
Do you sometimes discover a new bit of information and wonder how you got this far in life without knowing? Or maybe one day you realise that you have never really understood the meaning of a word or phrase but when you do, it expands your experience of life? Setting aside my personal embarrassment (of not having known this before) I have to ‘own up’ in order to share with you my discovery of imminence vs immanence.
The word imminent is frequently used in the course of a normal every day conversation. Something is always about to happen. Someone’s arrival is imminent. A change in the weather can be imminent. The second coming of Christ is imminent.
Recently I was involved in a discussion with a group of friends and we were talking about how past hurts can cripple us. Many things that have happened in the past become part of our present experience because they are still influencing our behaviour. We may be afraid to try something new because we don’t want to repeat a past mistake. Or we can’t speak up because when you did so as a child you were scolded or sent to your room. It is often the case that people don’t even realise that their choices are being limited because they are holding back based on something that has happened in the past. It has become an automatic protective behaviour to stay within safe territory; staying in safe territory often involves playing small, hoping to slip by unnoticed.
Of course, I’m not talking about walking down a dark alley late at night. Common sense indicates this is not safe territory. I am talking more about a sense of emotional safety. Most of us have had the experience, somewhere along the path, where someone we trusted has let us down or betrayed our trust. We have then projected that on to others and before long we have completely lost trust in everyone. So rather than trusting our fellow man, we don’t trust anyone until they somehow prove they are trustworthy. It’s sort of like everyone is guilty until proven innocent. This is a very limiting way to go through life.
Someone in the group then said that hanging on to past hurts, denies the Immanence of God.
Here’s the embarrassing part. I have heard the phrase before but I just skated over it as the Imminence of God – I thought it must be a way to say God is about to happen in your life, God is about to happen in my life. It made sense because God is really all around us, if we but pay attention so I figured he could appear (not visually) but you know, just happen, at any moment.
Then, the other day, I heard or felt the true vibration of the Immanence of God. I realised that immanence is almost the opposite of imminence. It isn’t about to happen. It is happening all the time. God is inherent in all s/he has created. God is inherent in each one of us. This immanence is like an unfolding. Always there inside us, always becoming more active in our life if we welcome it, more visible if we choose to see it. So, in the context of the conversation I was having with my friends, I realised that by holding on to past grievances or trespasses, we were denying God the opportunity to move into our hearts and unfold a greater love for us to live.
The Immanence of God is permanently pervading and sustaining the universe.
It’s a small detail. It’s swapping and ‘i’ for an ‘a’. But it kind of rocked my world, changing my view from a God who is about to happen (imminent) to one that is already and always happening (immanent), if I am willing to be present enough to participate in the unfolding within.
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If you enjoyed this blog, you may like to read my Magic of God Moments blog.
24/2/2019 01:55:39 am
Thank you Gail, yes - there is true power in the details. loved reading this blog that has rocked my view of the word and the world :)
24/2/2019 07:05:52 am
Hi Stephanie, Thanks for reading, appreciating the detail and playing along with the words.
24/2/2019 05:35:49 pm
I agree. By changing just one letter, a whole new meaning and deep understanding felt at a bodily level.
25/2/2019 08:31:17 am
25/2/2019 03:12:04 pm
I love the detail of language. Swapping an i for an a makes a huge difference! Mist to mast - zip to zap - fit to fat - and loads more. Another one often interchanged is effect and affect, this time an e for an a........ love the type too, what is the font? X
10/3/2019 03:38:49 pm
Haha - I love your play with words - especially fit and fat. Again, opposites. The font is something Weebly has chosen. No matter what font I type my draft in, when I paste it into Weebly, it comes up in the Weebly font!
25/2/2019 07:13:35 pm
Hi Gayle, I love your discovery, it certainly opens up something for me. I'd never thought about the difference between these two different but similar words. They are always wonderful moments when suddenly something comes in and brings light and a new understanding. I have often thought about the difference between immanence and transcendence, and held out strongly for the immanence because I could feel the meaning of the word being presence, something untangible but felt as a divine power all around and within. But for me this is spasmodic, and I welcome any little or large break in the clouds that reveals to me another level of Light and Love I could go to within myself. Transcedence however would be encouraging me to look elsewhere and outside myself as the Divine Power would be somewhere else not present.
10/3/2019 01:35:57 pm
YES, I agree with you Joan. I much prefer the option of God being immanent rather than transcendent. That I had sorted out quite awhile back. I'm pleased to hear that my pondering on the similarity and huge difference between imminence and immanence was meaningful for you as well.
26/2/2019 09:43:32 pm
Hi Gayle, After reading you blog I now have a deeper understanding of the expression 'the immanence of God'. Like you, I never did truly cotton on to the depth of its meaning. I had heard it many times in church sermons, when I used to attend church in my early 30's ,and thought it was some preacher jargon but now, thanks to your blog I realise that it has a more meaningful message.
10/3/2019 01:29:04 pm
Thank you Ruth for a truly beautiful comment on this blog, taking everyone who reads it even deeper.
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Gayle Cue loves writing about life, reflecting on every day miracles and pondering on the big picture.
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