To The In Between
Dear In Between,
I’m not sure whether to call you a friend or an enemy. As I’m writing this, I’m half smiling, half laughing to myself about how much grief you’ve caused me. That’s my coping mechanism, as I’m sure you’ve already learned. Just laugh away the tears and it’ll all be fine right? Right.
I am writing to inform you that I have decided to accept your offer to stay here for a to-be-determined amount of time. I’ve decided to occupy the space that you’ve provided me with here because it seems I have no other choice. I’ve tried my hardest to get out of this space, to crawl and dive and roll my way out of this weird and uncomfortable living situation. This is worse than any bad roommate I’ve ever had, for the record. I’ve tried to avoid giving people this address when they ask “what are you doing with your life?” or “where are you now?” because I quite honestly haven’t bothered to memorize it either. Every time I think I’m moving out and I’ve convinced myself this is it, I fall right back on my ass and am reminded, abruptly (and painfully if I must say so myself), that it is not my time.
Trust me, I’ve done everything in my limited human power to get the hell out of this space. It is a weird mix of dark and scary and hard-to-explain to people and also just a little bit embarrassing, (okay, more than just a little bit), but you get the point. I know you’ve welcomed me with open arms from the day we first met, but you have to admit you weren’t very honest or clear about what it would look like to live here. You advertised yourself to be this deluxe package of “backpack around the world for 6 months!” and “relax, take a break from school, learn a thing or two about life!” You never told me about the real world. You never told me you would last more than a summer’s length or even more than half a year at that! You never explained to me the terms of my stay or what it was going to be like to be here when my diploma was handed to me and I was smiling with my friends. You never told me how alone I’d feel.
I’ve got to say, you’ve done some really great marketing to get people to take the first leap and move into your space as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed graduate. I get it, everyone has to lie just a little bit. But you know what your problem is? You just can’t keep them. You know how to lure us all in but once we’re here we see the reality for what it is. It’s suddenly not so fun anymore. I will say that I know and understand that you are not loved and embraced with open arms by people the way you’ve opened your arms to everyone that has had the pleasure (*insert sarcasm*) of occupying your constantly vacant space. You are not desired in this toxic instant “I want it now” society and I feel for you, I really do.
My dearest In Between, I have to be completely honest with you. Even though it hasn’t been very enjoyable, there is no denying that you have taught me so much. You have stretched me in ways that I never thought I could be stretched. You have pulled me in every direction and no direction at all. You have tormented me, left me to my (at times) dark and scary thoughts. You have forced me to not only ask myself hard questions, but also to answer them. You definitely didn’t say answering them was a part of the package. But here we are.
Thank you for pushing me to learn one of the most important lessons I could learn in this time and space. You see, for so long I thought my worth was so intricately intertwined with my ability to produce. I never before stopped to think about why anxiety always seems to follow my lack of production or the feeling of an unclear purpose with nothing tangible to show for my time. I never identified my constant need to associate my value with something, anything, other than who God has created me to be. Whether that was being a student, or a leader, or an employed person, or a church member, or a master—I always linked my worth and value directly to whatever role I was filling in that season.
In Between, you’ve reminded me that the very moment in which I was created—the moment the hands of the Lord thought of me and formed me—value was added to my being. It became my middle name, my identity. I had to do absolutely NOTHING to gain this worth in my innermost being and spirit. When everything was stripped away from me, while living here, with you, I almost forgot about that value. I almost let myself believe that my worth automatically diminished when I stopped filling specific tangible roles. When it was just me, and none of my production to show the world.
I have no idea how long I’ll be here with you, In Between. I don’t know the plans the Lord has for me, but I am sure and confident that they are good. I’m not sure how long our time together will be, but I know that not even you can take away my value or the intricate way in which the Lord has made me. You cannot take away the passions that have been planted in me or the calling that has been placed on my life.
You know, In Between, you might not be so bad after all. You just might be the space and home I needed to learn and relearn these small but important lessons. These truths are what I hold to be self-evident now. And who knows, maybe you had good intentions all along. Maybe you were sent by God to teach me exactly what needed to be taught at exactly the right time. Maybe you just did it for your own fun, but either way I won’t sleep on this newfound realization.
The truth is that I often feel like I am not enough, like I am worthless or without value. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that other people might sometimes feel that way too. You’ve reminded me, painfully, that it is God who makes me enough. It is Him who fills in where I am empty and and adds all value to my life, simply because I am His creation and was made in His image. You’ve reminded me that God is not impressed by my good grades or my ability (or inability) to acquire a job, He is impressed by my ability to have faith that my value is not evaporated the moment my accomplishments are. In Between, you’ve helped me realize that God is ever present in the en route of our lives. He is very near in the in between, the journey, the uncomfortable and long trek on our way to anywhere. Where God meets us the most is in the space that you create between one destination and another, In Between. And it is so sweet. This strikingly vulnerable season of our lives has the opportunity to be the most life-changing season if we allow ourselves to engage in it. To live fully and boldly, despite the confusion and chaos of the journey.
Amidst looking everywhere for identity and purpose, you’ve invited me in your space to learn how to simply be. You’ve reminded me that to be is a heart stance in alignment with God’s heart, and nothing more. It is not in any way associated with any sort of production or grand destination of success. To be is simply receiving the confidence that you are who God says you are and accepting the rest that comes with an unshakeable God-given purpose.
In Between, I find myself laughing again while ending this letter to you. You are the most uncomfortable space I have ever been in, it’s ridiculous. Even when I am out of it, when I have “arrived” at my destination, I will never forget you. I will never forget the lessons you’ve taught me or the things you’ve made me feel. I will never forget the way you’ve stretched me, the tears you’ve brought me, the questions you’ve forced me to answer. I will never forget that you were the one that reminded me of the Lord’s faithfulness and goodness in every season, regardless of what I believe about myself based on my current circumstances. You’ve reminded me of what is often missed—the beauty of being in the journey and walking with God alongside me.
So, all this to say, thank you. Thank you, In Between.
The in between “is a time of danger, of expectation, of uncertainty, of excitement, of extraordinary aliveness.” — Eugene Peterson
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