I love knowing where I’m going and what’s coming next. It’s the way I’m wired. And if it were left up to me, all of life would come with step-by-step instructions that lead directly through one season into another. With clearly marked transitions and signposts complete with “start here” and “you did it!” messages all along the way. Followed immediately by strategy sessions for setting future plans into motion.
It’s a way of life that serves me well in areas like personal goal setting and professional growth. But when it comes to relationships, it’s not always the healthiest approach. Because in real life, we spend more time than not in the in between. In between the start and finish. In between one life event and the next. In between the accomplishment of goals and dreams. And unless we grow comfortable with the in-between spaces of life, we just might miss the opportunities to celebrate and love each other well during the pauses.
Gifts tucked away in the in-between times.
The in-between places give us time to enjoy the present moment and the people filling up those moments. They give us room to offer the people we care for a soft spot to land. A space where they feel accepted and honored right where they are without a lot of questions about where they are going. When we choose to peel our eyes off of the horizon and look at the ground firmly beneath our feet, we see the gifts of the here and now. And we grow in our ability to trust God with all of the waiting that inevitably comes with life.
Focusing on the future and encouraging others to pursue their hopes and dreams is, of course, a good and necessary thing. But if we focus only on what must be done to move forward, we can unwittingly put unhealthy pressure on our relationships. Our attempts at encouragement begin sounding like we’re ungrateful or not satisfied. Like where we are and what we’ve accomplished to get here aren’t enough.
A caution about rushing through the in-between times.
When the in-between places of life last longer than we’d like, two seemingly opposite but equally dangerous relationship pitfalls can cause us to stumble. Despair tricks us into thinking things will never change. Denial keeps us from honestly looking at where we’re at and how we got here. Feelings of despair often lead to giving up. Denial makes it nearly impossible to recognize the healthy changes we could be making. Changes that are hard to see with our eyes closed.
When we learn to rest and wait on the Lord during life’s pauses, He helps us grow comfortable with living and loving in the in-between places. Knowing that whether life is in motion or seemingly stalled, He’s with us. God is guiding our steps at the start and the finish and everywhere in between. (Psalm 139:5) Giving us permission to pause, to rest, and to celebrate and love each other through all of the moments of life – even the ones filled with uncertainty or silence.
God is our hope and our song, even in the in-between places – maybe especially there. So we can add a couple more signposts to our life journey. Ones that say, “you are here,” and “rest stop ahead.” And we can confidently stay focused and present in the pauses of life. Living and loving in the in-between places– because the Lord has got us right where we belong.
“Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:31)