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.
Gayle Cue loves writing about life, reflecting on every day miracles and pondering on the big picture.
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