A couple of months ago, Laura and I helped our son Nathan and daughter-in-law Klar move into their first house.
I was freshly reminded of the stress moving into a new home places on people: the boxes, the planning, the long hours painting and cleaning, and the overall disruption it inflicts on your life. You’re making plans for and doing work on the new place, but you’re still living at and maintaining the current place. You’re ready (at least in your own mind) to move on to what’s next, but your feet are still planted in what is. You experience the tension of living in-between.
In-between can be one of the most uncomfortable places on earth:
- In-between your current job and a possible new assignment on the horizon.
- In-between the person you are now and the person you hope to become.
- In-between your singleness and the prospect of marriage
- In-between life here on a fallen planet and the promise of a perfect life in heaven.
What happens inside of us during those in-between times is all-important. In-between stages are usually character-shaping points in time. Patience is developed (hopefully). We learn to be thankful for what’s good in our life right now (hopefully). We work on the laundry list of tasks needing to get done before we’re ready for the next phase of our life (hopefully). We discover (hopefully) that God wants to use the in-between moments to prepare us for what’s next. And we realize that God’s timetable for the next season often conflicts with ours (guaranteed).
It’s the tension between our sense of timing and God’s timing that often makes us feel stuck. The tension between what is and what could be can make it seem like we’re in neutral. Transitions are times when hearing God’s voice above all other voices becomes paramount, and making the proper choices when so many choices are available often becomes problematic.
One of the best things about living in the U.S. is the number of options we have. And one of the worst things about living in U.S. is the number of options we have. Especially when it comes to our life’s calling.
We live in a land of opportunity. Career possibilities are numerous. But for some of us, the sheer number of choices breeds confusion. Which way should we go? And after a prolonged period of indecision, we can experience the sensation of being stuck.
So, what can you do when it seems like your life is stuck in the middle? When multiple routes present themselves to you, but you can’t figure out the best way forward? Here are three ideas to consider:
When you’re unsure of what road to travel, take a step back and discover (or re-discover) your gifts. Get freshly in touch with the way God has wired you. My friend Jeff Harlow says: “Before God leads you to what’s next, He first leads you back to yourself.”
Get in touch with your God-given talent and passion. These were given to you by God for a purpose larger than yourself. Ask people who know you well what they think you do best. Take advantage of the many assessment tools available on the web. (Again, lots of options). I like the Enneagram and Strengths Finders 2.0 assessments. The Enneagram speaks to wiring, and Strengths Finders speaks to talents.
What energizes you? (Volleyball on the beach doesn’t count.) What gets your creative juices flowing? What work is it that when you do it, you feel, “I was born to do this.” Can you make enough money doing what you’re gifted at and passionate about? Is it an honest way to make a living? Write the answers to those questions in a journal. I encourage you to journal throughout the entire decision-making process. The intersection of gift and passion will bring clarity to your calling.
After you have assessed and analyzed, at some point you have to act. You’ve done your homework. The data assembled stares you in the face, waiting for you to make the call. Decision points are the place we often find ourselves stuck. The F-word—failure—terrifies us. Our fear of making a mistake can keep us frozen in place, unwilling to take even the most reasonable risk.
Deciding gets easier when you understand failure is not a curse word. No career choice is 100% sure to be successful. If the road you choose doesn’t work out, all is not lost. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn what you can, and move on. Eventually you’ll discover your God-given calling if you keep working at it.
When you find yourself in the middle of considering a new season of life, and a boatload of options has you feeling confused and stuck—figure out what you’re best at—what you gets you pumped up—and if you can make a livable wage doing that kind of work—then jump in with both feet.
The way we respond during the in-between times of life often determines how far we’ll go when the new stage finally arrives. So, when you’re in-between: be patient; be thankful; be teachable; be diligent; and be hopeful. Your current in-between is not the final chapter of your story.
“When our circumstances and our own weary hearts beg us to believe God has forgotten us, let’s remember He is still very much at work. Even in the silence. Even in the unknown. Even when we can’t see anything on the horizon” ~ Lysa TerKeust
I’m rooting and praying for you!