Some of you know this, some of you don’t.
Some of you don’t even know me personally, maybe your just finding your way here by accident and giving me some of your time. For those of you in the latter category, I will try to keep this simple.
But, you know, at the end of all of these mistakes, I came out a lot smarter than I was when I started. I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I could take a hit, even several hard hits and maybe a few devastating hits and still get up again. Even if it sometimes took a lot longer than I had wanted it to.
I am not alone. I am sure on some level we’ve all been there.
When the world you were cultivating suddenly becomes dark and the life you once enjoyed becomes void and quickly lost. Your plans and thoughts for your future dry up and they soon blow away like the leaves in late fall. During these times in our life, the search for clarity and direction can be a long, dark, quiet road at times. Every step forward comes with a question mark attached to it. It can feel like you don’t belong anywhere at all. The past is clearly behind you. You couldn’t go back, even if you wanted to. But the future seems unclear and far away – like a mirage in the distance. All you do is survive from one day to another.
Even if you can make out the shape of what might be up ahead, you find yourself asking, How do I get there from here? What if I can’t do it? Are my best days behind me? What do I do now?
You’re stuck…in the in-between.
I lived there in the “in-between” for a long time. Wasted years.
In between what once was and what will someday be. In between what was comfortable and the life we’re meant for…next.
It can be daunting, the in-between. It can be fertile soil for discouragement and doubt, frustration and fear. Some people never get to the other side and pull themselves out from the “in between”.
This is sad. Truth is… I believe that God doesn’t want us to live our lives in the in-between.
I write this because I have people close to me, people who I love that have been thrust into the “in between” and as someone who has made it through this “in between” phase of life, I feel some responsibility to give some advice on how to survive it. It isn’t easy.
So what do you do?
First of all, I think that reflection is one of the most important, and seldom-used, tools at our disposal. For the record, reflection is NOT living in the past. Reflection is taking an honest look back and being truthful with yourself about your failures. Most people never do this. They justify their actions or deny the facts that they know are true.
It is why a lot of people just sort of drift from day-to-day and suddenly find that they are 80 years old, with no real sense of how they got there, what the path they walked says about who they are, what they did, and how their lies and deeds affected others, loved ones and strangers alike.
I truly believe that before you can move on and start living life on the other side of the “in between”, you have to be honest with yourself, your family and your God.
You have to ask yourself, “What lie am I keeping that is holding me hostage?”
The unexamined life.
It breeds deception and it causes us to find lies that we tell to ourselves and others to hide who we really are.
My life in the “in between” has obliged me to look hard at my past and present, even when I didn’t want to. I had to deal with the lies I was telling to God, myself and to others.
How I have dealt with those lies I have covered over the last seven years of writing this blog. I will not spend a lot of time to list all of those lies here but rest assured they are real and there are times that as I reflect and time passes I uncover a few more. I deal with them as soon as I do. I choose not to be dragged back to the “in between”. More detail can be found in having the time to talk to me and asking. I will tell you the truth. I went for almost 15 years before I started to deal with the lies I was telling myself.
I know so many people who try to use the lie that “God wants me to be happy.” as an excuse to justify many decisions they make in life. Yes… I guess there is some truth in that God desires that we are content in where we are in life but no where in Scripture does God say He wants me to be HAPPY. I tried to justify the argument “God wants me to be happy” and made it often through the years. I’ve heard Christians defend all kinds of decisions based on the belief that God wants them to be happy.
But the truth is I’m not sure that He does.
The word “happy” appears six times in the Bible, none of those in reference to God’s intention for your life. This is not a bad thing, though. Happiness is almost always tied to the present. How quickly can that change? If we constantly lived for our current happiness, what a miserable life most of us would have.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that God delights in our misery. But I’m not sure that there’s any Biblical evidence to back up the claim that He wants us to be happy. In fact the Bible seems to teach that He is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. I lied to God, others and to myself about this.
Living day-to-day in the in-between is hard.
Most of the bad decisions I have ever made, I made when I was in the “in-between”. The problem is we are all free to choose what we want to do, but we are not free from the consequences of those choices we make.
The best choice is always one that requires us to wait on God to give us clear direction. I mean truly “waiting” on Him.
For me, these “in-between” periods of my life happened when I did not wait on God but told others and fooled myself into thinking that I had.
If you are caught in the “in-between”, you must remember that the waiting on God’s direction is your work for the moment. God has called us and has directed us to follow Him. Sometimes that means standing still and waiting for His perfect timing. This waiting is hard. It’s hard to not be able to work towards something and easy to get caught up in the not-yet.
If you are dealing with the in between, may you find joy in your wait. Hopefully you will find your purpose for the rest of your life.
Remember… God wants your holiness not your happiness.
May He strengthen your heart for this journey. May you wait and trust in Him and find life on the other side of living in the “in-between”.