“Liminal space” refers to an in-between or transitional stage in one’s life.
“Liminal space, which is a threshold, refers to the space where you move from one reality into the next,” said Bill Weedman, who serves as campus support pastor at Southeast Christian Church’s Indiana Campus. “You were doing life this way, now all of the sudden you’re in this unknown transition and you’re not to the end, but you know things will be different. However, you don’t know what it will look like. This journey is known as liminal space.”
Southeast’s Indiana Campus just finished a session of men’s and women’s Liminal small groups. Founded by Chris Mosher and Shari Marbois, Liminal is a nonprofit that partners with church communities to create and execute groups, weekend retreats and other experiences that help people spiritually transform into who God meant them to be.
Weedman, who is in the process of becoming a Liminal leader, said he spent decades hiding from parts of his heart even 30 years into his Christian walk.
“I was free from my past. I was a new person, but I didn’t always act like a free person,” Weedman added. “The best analogy I can give you is Jesus opened the cage door, but I’m just buried inside. He said, ‘You can come out. You don’t have to live this way anymore.’ In some parts I did, but in some parts I didn’t. I just stayed inside this cage.”
Things came to a head in 2015 when Weedman lost his temper at a family get-together.
“Out of character, I told my wife, ‘Don’t you tell me what to do,’ so much so she literally stepped back,” he said. “My adult sons and daughters-in-law were there and awkward silence. That led to apologies. Later that night, my wife said, ‘Bill, where’d that come from? I haven’t seen that kind of anger in you since we first married.’ I answered, ‘I don’t know.’”
Weedman reached out to a pastor friend in Colorado who invited him to a soul work retreat where he discovered the messages he heard as a child were impacting his present relationships.
Weedman’s dad abandoned him and was unfaithful to his mother.
“It deeply affected my worth,” Weedman said. “During my journey on this weekend, I realized how I was reacting was what clinicians will call a shadow. A shadow is what we repress or deny from the past and go, ‘Oh, that doesn’t affect me now.’ To me, it was the belief that if I don’t perform a certain way, I’ll be abandoned. I’ve got to be good. If you couch that and don’t deal with those emotions, they come out as sideways energy. Typically, most men react in anger, which deep down is really sadness about something.”
Weedman said Liminal retreats are designed to dig deep into today’s setbacks brought about by yesterday’s injuries.
“This weekend is about revisiting what is your shadow and helping you deal with it,” Weedman added. “It’s not the end of everything. You don’t walk away going, ‘I’m good.’ For me, it was an eye-opening experience, ‘Oh, that’s why I do that.’ It teaches you how to process anger.”
In 2018, Southeast member Scott Neal attended a Liminal weekend that changed his life.
“I wasn’t raised by my biological father. He didn’t want anything to do with me. My mother and him were divorced when I was a year old. I was raised by a good man, but I always wanted to please him. It was like I never was good enough,” Neal said. “I thought it was from him, but it turned out my emotions came from my biological father. I grew up an angry person. Through Liminal, I learned how to be accountable and have integrity as a man, which were things I strived for, but never knew how to get there. That’s what the journey is all about, being responsible for my own actions, not blaming it on others.”
Weedman said Liminal isn’t about fixing your relationships or circumstances, but focusing on your soul.
“You’ve got to get down to these core things like confidence, patience, peace, joy,” Weedman said. “If you’re going to live externally free, there has to be internal transformation. I heard one participant say, ‘This is what church really ought to be.’ To be able to come in and say, ‘I’m really struggling.’ It creates a safe place.”
Liminal is hosting local men’s weekends in August and November and a women’s weekend in October. There are more retreats to come in 2022.
“We can’t go into the details about the weekends because we like to control things,” Weedman added. “We do this in our walk with Jesus. If you tell everybody what’s going to happen, they’ll preprocess their answers and it will be plastic and churchy, not organic. The best thing you can do is go into this weekend and just react to it. When things happen to us that are out of our control, our real nature comes out.”