Wednesday, January 8, 2020

in between


i've never liked the words "in between."

because when you're in between, you don't fully have either option.

"hey, can you commit to this project?" "sorry, I'm in between one job and another right now."
"did you decide what color you want to paint this room?" "no, I'm still in between grey and tan."
"can you come over right now" "no, I'm stuck in traffic, in between 440 and 40."

in between.

in between where you are and where you're going. in between one option and another option-while being kept from any other options not included in the two.

it seems like life gives us seasons of in betweens.

the hot-red overhead light made the deep-black, leathery heavy bag with TITLE boxing club sewn look extra ominous. I "one!" jabed, "two!" crossed "three!" uppercutted "four!" jab, uppercut, cross, hooked in time with the trainer's shouts. But the thoughts still interjected in between the words and my punches. "one!" you've been coming for six months, and you're still not strong enough "two!" you're probably spending too much time here anyway; you're being selfish "three!" you just don't know enough about how to train, and it's your fault "four!" you're tired, you should give up; giving up is all you do.

in between one negative thought and the next.

my troyathalon quinoa veggie burger complemented her lettuce wrap turkey sphere and the next's sweet potato fries. one youth pastor's wife, one high school leader who'd become a dear friend, and me, a third. elizabeth had asked us what was going on in our lives, and we were opened-up catching up. my co-leader was co-mingling the truth of God's word with the pain of her current reality: getting hit at home, getting hit in her heart, but knowing in the home of her heart that God is still good. "I've been seeking this and asking for it for so long; and it seems like everyone is having it; so why? why has God not given it to me?"

in between hopeful expectations of a good Father and fearful unease about what might never come from His hand.

the yellow, porcelain squirrel peeked up at me. he was sitting by the upper left corner of my cubicle's sit-down-or-stand-up adjustable desk, right next to the blue-glow and dark-grey rectangular charging receptacle. things have been getting so much better. one step at a time, I had been getting my steps in line with work: learning how to tackle the project management tasks so they didn't tackle me, learning what data and financial areas were worth the effort to push for information, learning how to vary the day to maintain focus. but my inbox. the emails. the bane of my work existence since day one. my little porcelain squirrel of encouragement was given by a friend on one of the hardest weeks, one where I almost called in to work because I was not in a mental state to walk in those doors. instead, I brought her squirrel, a yellow orb (the color of quantified joy), a sign of her quantified support. in my cube, i now sat, staring at the emails.

in between what I'm called to do and what I feel like I lack ability to do.

it was then after my cube-working time. i was going to a bingo rally (don't ask). i pulled up directions and checked my friend's location on Find My Friends. Just as she'd thought, she wasn't going to be done on time. I checked the group message; someone else was going to be late. The original inviter I knew would be there, but I was uncertain who he'd be with. So I delayed, not wanting to be there alone, have a 1:1, even when a part of believed that this was what my subconscious wanted most.

in between what I thought I wanted and the ability to start chasing it.

in between.

It seems like life is a series of in betweens right now.

I'm-
in between the reality that my job is a daily, mud-walk-through-struggle that hasn't improved substantially in a year in a half and the reality that this job has so many blessings and perks
in between my heart-fire desire to mentor all my students at church and my heart-deep insecurity that I am maybe the worst mentor alive
in between a desire to devote maybe the rest of my life to tutoring kids and working against community crime and poverty and the tugging thought that I am not the person for this, my time is better contributed elsewhere

I'm-
in between belief that I'm serving the Lord as He wills and a belief that I am a chaotic failure.
In between a faithful daily surrender to the Lord and a faithful daily bout with guilt and regret.
in between a conviction that God is sovereign and in control of my destiny and a crippling pressure that I must control my life and do everything right to end up glorifying God.

I'm in between the perpetual inaction of trying to figure out how to obey and the reality that this desire might be keeping my from costly, maybe risky (ooo, ah) obedience itself.

in between.

But my co-leader co-mingled truth in her heart-bearing: maybe she didn't need the answers right now, as much as I would fight through 10,000 strongmen to give them to her. Maybe her not having answers now is part of the answer: maybe it's part of the cross she's called to bear in this season. Maybe it's an act that's bringing her to the feet of Jesus, surrendered to a future that seems loomingly unknown and living out a daily that feels like it's taking daily loads of crazy-lots strength to make it through.

It's not like we are abandoned here, in our certain uncertainity. God hasn't left us forgotten, but He might be witholding the answers as we see the answer behind what our heart-longing-for-answers have us crying out for: He is the answer Himself.

I want to know what direction I should take in my career (and I'm not going to stop seeking), but I have the answer that whatever career I'm called to, He is going to have ways for me to serve. And I can do so now.
I want to know who the heck I'm going to marry or even date (still waiting), but I have the answer that my deepest security and source of love will never be less than Christ Himself. And I can learn more about this love now.
I want to know if I can finally give up writing words and words or if I'm called to do and stay (only one way to find out), but I know that I must be faithful to obey Christ with the next thing and trust He'll give the strength to keep doing until the time to do is done. And I can be faithful in each task now.

In the in between, we are in between some of our worries, sin, doubts, and Christ's truth. It's in the in between that we see our deepest: all we have is need, and all we need is You.

Post-bingo, I cried in the car. So sick of me getting in the way of loving people. So tired of people trying to show me love that I seem unable to receive. So caught in between where I think God might be leading and the certainty of feeling like I am actually heading there.

Maybe obedience isn't taking the next step in the "answers" of what God has for us or where God is leading us. Maybe it's a commitment to trust and wait and do the next right thing, to learn to seek and sit savoring the beauty of Christ even when.

Because we do know some. We can pray, praise, rejoice, bear each other's burdens, give, take every thought captive, meditate on the word, abide in Christ. We're always in between a chance to remain self-soaked and sulking or to obey the simple commands in the source of truth.

I'm not giving up on seeking clarity and direction in all that God is bringing me through -- through the mental chaos, through the constant fighting against myself every time I sit down to the yellow-squirrel cubicle, through the freezing and awkwardness many times I enter a conversation with a guy, through the discomfort of learning how to mentor, through the daily drudgery of having to do dishes and wash laundry -- but I'm going to choose to focus on the things He's already led me to and called me to devote my life to: to loving Him. to loving people. to crying out with open hands of surrender even connected to deep hands of action. For, I'll pick up my cross and say yes to the unanswered todays in the temporary permanence because the answer is--I have a chance to get to serve Him: here, now, always.

even if I'm ever in the in between.

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I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?

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