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Personal Space

By Marlene Houk

Burke County


“Johnny, please stop wallerin’ all over AJ.”

“And Suzie, you don’t need to put your leg in Amber’s lap; move away a little and give her some space.”

“Benjamin, don’t crowd Elijah. Give him some breathing room.”

And on and on through the day, my daughter, an elementary school teacher, reminds children of their social etiquette. The technical word is proprioception, and the definition in the Oxford dictionary (Lexico) is the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body.  But we just say, “She was all up in my grill,” implying that our personal space has been invaded.   ScienceDirect, a platform of peer-reviewed literature, provides more insight into this concept: “Proprioception encompasses three aspects, known as the ‘ABC of proprioception’.

Agility: the ability to control the body’s direction during rapid movement

Balance: the ability to be consistent in equilibrium by keeping the line of gravity of the body within the body’s base of support.

Coordination: is the smoothness of an activity.”

The spiritual value of proprioception, especially in a crisis, nudges me with its parallels to daily life. Sometimes, circumstances throw our emotions, our Christianity, and even our body systems out of their normal functions. We may feel unbalanced. Our sense of outrage and injustice may obscure our normal biblically balanced outlook on life.  When life hits hard, and I’m desperate for relief, where are my boundaries? Like the children in an elementary classroom, I stumble and lose my sense of how I fit with God’s view of me.

Proprioception, spiritually speaking, asks these questions.

  • Where is my position within God’s space for me?
  • How do I follow the Bible verse that says, “in him, we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) when I’m stumbling in the darkness of sin or despair?
  • Has my position in Christ and the movement of God’s plan for me been changed by this situation?
  • Am I walking outside the Light, or walking the yellow line disobedience, or am I in the emergency lane of desperation?
  • How do I regain my agility, balance, and coordination in living the Christian life?

Spiritually speaking, how do we enhance and restore proprioception: our sense of self-image and purpose in Christ?


Agility: How do I control and guide my soul and my spirit’s direction in tandem with the Bible?

Balance: How can I stay balanced (emotionally and spiritually) by tethering myself to the body of Christ in all its wisdom and support?

Coordination: How can I revert to biblical thinking so smoothly that my body follows willingly with normal blood pressure; my spirit focusing on the Lord, and emotions remaining calm.

The answers, by God’s design, incorporate the spiritual equivalent of teaching children about personal space.

Sing-Appropriately enough, music helps children understand proprioception with its characteristics of balance and rhythm. The Bible reminds me that praising him with music balances me in a spiritual sense, restoring my agility to move in a godly direction during the rapid changes in life. Praising God with music also aids in balancing the current trouble with the bigger picture of eternity and helps me to coordinate Bible verses with my life.

Psalm 16:8-9 “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.”

Stimulate-In the case of physical injury, a holistic method is to provide tactile stimulation. “Mechanico Receptors in the bottom of the foot provide continuous input to the brain where global postural adjustments are made. Through this stimulation, a message is sent to the cerebellum (the balance center of the brain).”

Similarly, Christians need stimulation from the body of Christ to restore harmony and balance to their lives during terrible times. A warm hug, great listening skills by empathetic fellow Christians, and gentle advice from teachers and Bible study leaders reduce stress and encourage healing to a defeated Christian. The Bible brims with rich treasures that stimulate healing of the soul and shed the warm light of Jesus’ presence into the darkest parts of our sorrow-filled hearts.

 Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Seek-a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A variety of injuries and conditions ranging from autism to diabetes and joint injuries to peripheral neuropathy cause symptoms of proprioception. Then, the person or parent seeks help from professionals. Similarly, when we lose the agility to respond spiritually to our trials, the balance of God’s perspective, and the coordination that comes from restoration, we need to respond by seeking solutions from the Great Physician through His Scripture. Ask Jesus about your proprioception. Get to know Him and seek wisdom from the Lover of your soul.

Psalm 143:8 “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

Sometimes, when crises force us to amputate a limb, spiritually or emotionally speaking (such as in divorce or the death of a loved one), we struggle through the process of using a prosthesis that will enable us to enjoy life again. This prosthesis may be counseling, moving, starting a new life venture or supporting others as we have been undergirded. But the unusual characteristic of proprioception is that people with prosthetic limbs can still “sense the angle and movement of their artificial joint reasonably well”. (Ibid-ScienceDirect)

Regardless of your season of life, whether you are single, married, widowed, or unemployed and desperate, God will take your amputated expectations and still give you a sense that you are firmly tucked into His love and can enjoy His guidance for your life.

Proprioception, a physical and social ability and challenge to some, mirrors the Scriptural equivalent of understanding and restoring our agility, balance, and coordination when life assails us. Carry on!


Marlene Houk is a regualr contributor to Blue Ridge Christain News. Her passion is to delve deeply into the truths of Bible women and to discuss those in Bible Studies called Backstage Pass to Bible Women. She and her husband discover joy, nurture, and challenge in their church. Her contact is

You can Purchase her book, Hidden in a List: secrets from Bible women, on Amazon HERE.