April 14, 2015

I'm in that weird place...

in between the spaces or pages of life. I think of this "place" as my transition phase, the time in between being married and being single, between being an analyst and a professor, between being a Masters student and a Doctoral student. It is that place where I "live" in a state of change, moving from one thing to the next, but not really making any major headway. There is change of course, lots of little change, but nothing major happens. It all seems to be contained with the space in between.

In literature, we call these places, liminal spaces. Liminality is simply the "in between" place, like the space between an open door. There is this empty place whereby the person must pass through a threshold to reach the other side. In communication study, we call it hybridity or the space between cultures. It is the same thing, and it suggests a place of transition.

I am living in such a place today. I am in between what once was and what will be. It it not always a comfortable place to be because there is no real steadiness in this position. There is change, constant and unending change, and there is a great sense of "unknown" so apprehension becomes a factor. In truth, we live in these spaces all the time for we are never stationary in life. From the moment we are born to the time we die, we are transitioning from one place to another, from one moment to another, from one space to another space. We live in transition for most of our days, and our experiences are bound up in those tiny moments that make up these little spaces. How we live in these moments can often influence our greater understanding of life, but for most of us, we tend to despise these places, hoping only to 'get on with it' and 'get on over' to the real show, the big show, the final event. We want to arrive, to finally make it to wherever we think we will be most happiest. You know, the grass is always greener over on the other side of the threshold, the other side of the city, the state or the country. In truth, the grass is no more greener over there than it is here, but in our minds, our perception, we think it is so. This is why so many of us strive to achieve some measure of success, some amount of wealth or possessions in order to demonstrate that we have successfully passed through the liminal spaces and arrived in the "promised land."

The problem with this line of thinking is that it presumes a finality of sorts, it presumes that the moments that make up today count for nothing but waste because all that matters is tomorrow. Yes, we put on the mindset that "tomorrow" will be better. Tomorrow holds all our promises, our hopes for a good future, and all our dreams of a new, grander, more significant life.

This is a lie. It is a lie of Satan who wants us to focus so much on our tomorrows that we forget to live today. Scripture says it this way...
Matthew 6:34 - "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today. "
Proverbs 27:1 - "Don't brag about tomorrow, since you don't know what the day will bring." 
Hebrews 4:7 - "So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: "Today when you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts."
Romans 12:2 - "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
Scripture reminds us that there is a time to plant and a time to reap (Eccl. 3:2). There is a season, and a reason, for everything that happens under heaven. God has ordained times when there is plenty of work to be done, and then when there is plenty of time for rest. In our lives, likewise, the Lord has provided six days for work, and one day for rest. The time given to us by God is to be used fully and for His purposes, and even in the "down time" there is reason.

Seasons of Change

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

The Word of the Lord reminds us that time is given to us for a purpose and for a reason. Nothing is given in haste or in waste, therefore, for those that trust in and belong to the Lord, there is comfort in the passing of time.

I see this clearly now as I have been "stuck" in liminal spaces, the in between pages of a book. I am between this and that, and I struggle to turn the pages in order to get to the next chapter of my life. Sometimes, though, God creates blank pages, filler pages, in order to give us rest. These white spaces seem to be a waste, but they are there for a purpose. They give us time to come to terms with what has passed by before us, and allow us to prepare for what lays ahead. I see this now, and I realize that the "transition" phase of my life has been for this exact purpose. I needed time to get my life in order, to leave behind one way of living, of doing, of being, and to put on a new way. I needed to learn how to do somethings on my own. I needed to understand why I behaved certain ways and believed certain things. I have spent the past five years learning about my past life, what I did, why I did it, what I learned from it, and then why I needed to learn how to do things differently. In truth, I needed to go to school to learn about the choices I made in my life, my desires and dreams, and why I am where I am as the result of those choices. I needed an education, so to speak, so that I would understand the importance of my behavior, my choices, and my actions over the course of the past 40-50 years of my life. This transition phase has been for my edification, to help me understand myself better, and to come to the place of submission, to earnestly seek the Lord and His will and work. I am there now, in this new place, this place of submission, and I am ready to move forward, to start a new chapter of my life. Yet, the Lord holds me here, and doesn't allow me to move on. Why is this so?

I think it is like any major change in your life -- sometimes -- you just need time to settle. I am reminded of my weight loss efforts and how I was able to lose 10 pounds a couple years ago. I followed Atkins religiously, and as a result, I lost 10 pounds. I have since kept that 10 pounds off. My weight has stayed at this stationary mark for two years. I would like for it to move -- to shift downward by another 10 pounds -- but so far it seems to be stuck on this number. While I may not like that I haven't been able to lose the next 10 pounds, I realize that I am happy where I am at because I haven't gained the 10 back. No, I am at a set point, a place of rest, and my metabolism is holding my weight steady.

The Lord does this with us as well in order to give us time to reclaim our sense of well-being. If we constantly moved around, never stopping, never resting, we wouldn't be able to process the changes that have occurred. We'd be on a moving train, never stopping to engage with the changes, to learn from them or to examine them more closely. Instead, the Lord allows us rest periods in between the movement. We move, then we rest. We move again, then we rest. In this way, we catch our breath, survey the sights, and relax in the process as we transition through this season and on into the next. God is good that way, so very good to allow us time to rest.

So what does this mean for me?

As I sit here today and blog, I am reminded that I am where I am for a reason. I may not like the fact that I am standing still, that I am still in this place of transition, but I realize that I am resting before another big move. The next move is going to be significant for me. It will mean moving to another state, starting a different job, and generally beginning a new chapter of my life. It is a big deal, a very big deal. Until that time, though, I am to rest, to let go of the worry, the fear, the doubt, and simply rest in the sufficiency of the Lord's plan. I know to do this, I know it well, yet I still wonder why the Lord takes so long to move. I mean, I feel that He is preparing to move, and I sense this change happening in my life. He moves often in my life, and I feel the uproar that goes along with it. I guess perhaps He is saying to me that the moves He has made previously were "small" compared to what is coming ahead. He wants me to be fully rested, to be ready to handle what is coming, and He knows that it is significant and will cause me to cling to Him. I think I am ready. He tells me I am ready, but then I wonder if I am really, really ready? I mean, am I ready to leave my life behind here in Phoenix? Am I ready to move to a place I have never been before, leave everything and everyone I know, and move to a new life? I am not sure, I am not sure.

I want to experience this new life, but I am not sure I am ready to do it. There are aspects of it that I look forward to like being in a new relationship, experiencing a new job, finding a new place to live. All of this is exciting for me, but then I think how different it will be, how I will not have the comfort of family, of friends, of routine. I am such a creature of habit, such a creature of habit. I need routine to make me feel good each day. I do the same things every single day, and I follow the same pattern. Will my life be the same over there? Will I still do the same things or will I be so sad, so lonely, and so miserable that I will become depressed? I just don't know, I just don't know.

I know this life well. And, while I may not like it completely, I know and I understand it well. It makes sense to me, and I feel comfortable even in the stress and strain. I am comfortable in this place. Perhaps I have stayed too long at the mountain? Perhaps I have waited too long, tarried in this place too long? I don't know. I feel like there are days when this is the case, when I have overstayed my welcome, so to speak. Then there are days like today when I am "itching" to go, but the Lord is clearly telling me to wait. I don't know, I just don't know.

As I think about all of this, and I wonder what will be in 3-6 or 9 months, one thing is for sure. The Word of the Lord will stand true. The Word of the Lord will guide my decisions, my choices, and my options. I will not step out anywhere that is outside the guidelines of Scripture. I will not consider any way that is not bathed in peace. I know His voice, and I will wait until He says "go" and then I will go. I am preparing to go, getting myself ready to go, but I don't have everything I need right now, so until my bags are packed, I will remain in this "standby" state. I will remain in transition until the Lord gives me the green boarding light.

Dear Lord,

I feel so ready to go at times, and then at other times, I worry so much about leaving Phoenix behind. I want this new life so badly, to experience your will, your work, and to live your way. Yet, I am timid, fearful, and afraid at times. I want to hold on to what I know, to remain here because it is easier than picking up and moving over there. Still, I know that you do have my best in mind, and that your will is to be done in my life. I ask today that you help me rest while I can rest, and prepare for moving as you lead and guide me. I trust you to provide everything I need, to open the right door and close all the others, and give me the guidance I need to know that what I am feeling, sensing really, is your desire and movement encouraging me to go. I ask that you provide confirmation on jobs, on housing, on timing of everything so that I don't panic, but that I can be ready when you give that green light to me. Take care of all the necessities so that I can be confident in what is coming my way. I believe your Word, and I rest in your Name. I love you, Lord, and I look to  your hand of provision this good day. I ask all this in Jesus' Name, Amen. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

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