Transition: The now and not yet

by Kristin on May 16, 2011

in Belief, doubt & hope

Photo by west.m

Last week’s near-90 temperatures took early May by surprise and prompted women of all ages to shave their legs and dig out their shorts. When the house hit 80 degrees, we even resorted to running the air conditioning (something I’m opposed to doing before June, on account of some energy-saving principle I inherited from my dad).

But then it was the cold that took us by surprise (how quickly we forget). Jason and I were in shorts and t-shirts at H’s track meet, not prepared for the chilly breeze that greeted us. Today when we got up, our house was only 60 degrees (not because we’re trying to conserve energy, but because our furnace has been shut off for maintenance).

Will we ever feel comfortable in transition?

It is a time of transition. I feel it in every part of my life, from my cold fingers to the low-level anxiety that hovers over me. Jason feels it too, as he fluctuates between preparing the garden for summer and searching for a job. The kids are also stuck in a neither-here-nor-there place, hyped up by thoughts of summer break and stressed by the work that lies between today and the last day of school, two weeks away. S is both sad to be finishing her last year of elementary school, and poised to move forward.

You’re probably going to be surprised by where these thoughts took me (I know I was)—to a song I used to love when I was probably 12: “The Now and the Not Yet” by Amy Grant. That’s right, I went through a Christian Contemporary Music phase, and apparently it had an impact because the words to this song have been going through my head (the full lyrics are here):

No longer what we were before,
But not all that we will be….

No longer what we saw before,
But not all that we will see….

But I’m caught in between
The now and the not yet;
Sometimes it seems like
Forever and ever,
That I’ve been reaching to be
All that I am,
But I’m only a few steps nearer,
Yet I’m nearer…

Coming to terms with the “now and not yet” of life

It’s interesting to me that I loved that song when I was in middle school, a time of life that’s all about being neither here nor there—neither child nor adult. And it’s interesting that, 25 years later, I have a blog about being “halfway” somewhere, with a tagline that reads “Finding myself neither here nor there.”

Then there’s my church, which is sensing that God wants to do “a new thing” in us—but what? We are no longer what we were, but how do we move toward what we are to become, if we don’t know what that is? My personal theology has shifted over the past few years as well, to one that is all about how we must work to bring heaven to earth, rather than work to get to heaven. We are in transition, suspended between the two.

I know the school year will end, and summer will eventually arrive in full-force. But what about the bigger in-betweens? Some days it feels exciting, this idea of striving toward something more, even if it’s somewhat unknown. But other days, I just don’t like it. It’s exhausting, you know? I want to put my feet up and know I have arrived somewhere. I at least want to wipe the fog from the mirror and catch a glimpse of what God has in store.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. ~ I Corinthians 13:12

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  • http://katieleigh.wordpress.com Katie

    Ohhh, I hear this, Kristin. I’m caught in the same seasonal transition you are – but also caught in a larger in-between space. Between stranger and local, between missing home and making a new home. And of course the larger “already-and-not-yet” state, suspended between heaven and earth.

    It’s hard to ache for “a new thing” and not know what it is, or how to get there. I have no answers, but I’m standing with you here.

  • http://shawnsmucker.com Shawn Smucker

    Good old Amy Grant.

    I know what you’re saying Kristin. We finally decided we were content staying in our current house for another year, only for our landlord to say he was selling the place so we had to move. We found a place to get excited about, only for our landlord to come back and say he decided not to sell. How on earth can we keep up with all the things that are changing around us?

    Perhaps we’re not meant to.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

    I can really relate to this! The difference for me has been accepting that knowing in part or only realizing something in part is what I’ll need to accept now, trusting that one day God will bring clarity. However, God is under no obligation to give me the whole picture right now. Learning to trust him with that process has been critical in finding contentment and at least not losing my mind. I feel like every day I have to learn those lessons in new ways in new situations because I’m always asking God to make things clear, to lead me to the next thing, to rush ahead to the conclusion and the clarity.

  • http://www.lifewellblended.wordpress.com Diana

    I like that you wrote about this. Just today, in California, the weather turned to a chllly 60 degrees with rain in the forecast. Last week it was hot and sunny! That now and not yet” feeling overtakes me this time of year, every year. It strikes me when I fill out forms for next school year and I have to indicate that my 1st grader is a “rising 2nd grader.” I don’t know quite what to call myself during this transitioning stage, a “rising middle ager?” Like you, my personal theology has shifted. Thankfully, I am in a church which supports the idea that, as children of God, we are called to bring heaven to earth. Thank you for your insight!

  • http://silly-bear.com Sarah@ From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell

    I feel like I have a taken up residence on the “Here but not There Street.” Since last year, I’ve been in a state of transition, unsettledness that has yet to fully resolve. Those perpetual worries–what if God isn’t doing anything, what if I’m stuck here in this stressed induced place, what if– it makes the daily routine even more tasking. Part of it, I’ve been unemployed for what seems to be forever which does help calm the unsettled feelings. I hope one day soon this will pass, but until then I guess I have good company on this street.

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    Katie, YES! “It’s hard to ache for ‘a new thing’ and not know what it is, or how to get there.” Thank you for understanding, and for standing with me in this fuzzy place. I pray that each day you’ll move forward with a sense of certainty and hope, even if you feel a bit in the dark.

    Shawn, yeah, I’ll admit it—that Straight Ahead album played an important part in shaping my individual faith, apart from my parents’ faith. In my post I didn’t even get into our house saga, but I can definitely relate to yours! We’ve gone back and forth about five times in the past two years regarding whether to try to sell our house and buy something bigger, or put an addition on, or make do with smaller changes. Our friends think we’re a bit flighty in this regard. Anyway, I think you’re on to something with the “perhaps we’re not meant to” comment. There’s something to being held in a state of suspension.

    ed, God has set up a pretty rigorous school for us here, hasn’t he? There’s so much to learn and little room for slacking off! I like how you put this: “God is under no obligation to give me the whole picture right now. Learning to trust him with that process has been critical in finding contentment and at least not losing my mind.”

    Diana, so it’s not just spring in the Midwest! I have to admit, I love how the seasons are ready-made metaphors for so many aspects of life. I also love that we can find community—in churches and on blogs and in our families—to move through the changes with.

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise

    This past year was spent mostly in a transition state. It’s very good to be on the other side of that. Though I’m not sure that we’re ever really on the other side. There will always be some new adventure to begin.

    That said, this is a moment of peace for us, and I intend to enjoy it fully!

  • Kirstin

    I *hate* these in-between times. Feels like the weather has made this one particularly bad. There’s been little sense of transition; we just seem stuck in an endless March.

    But that’s just the annual, cyclic kind of transition in play in my life; you’re talking about something bigger and more far-reaching. “Pot-bound” is always the metaphor that comes to my mind for those kinds of in-between times–when your roots are ready for a new pot, but one just isn’t ready to hand yet.

  • http://hopefulleigh.blogspot.com/ HopefulLeigh

    I am dwelling between Now and Not Yet for so many reasons. Right now I vacillate between excitement and terror about a big change I’ll be making in the next month. I really have no control on the outcome but I feel like I have to move, to do something. And I have peace about taking action because I know I can’t handle the alternative. In the other areas of my life, I impatiently wait and try to be content. This time of waiting can be whatever we choose to make of it. I seek for it to be a more productive, character-growing time because it certainly hasn’t been that before.

  • http://themoderngal.com The Modern Gal

    My times of transition have been some of the worst times in my life. I don’t do well with feelings of being unsettled. Yet, looking back on those times, I’ve found they were answered with blissfully exciting and happier times soon after. I hope that’s the same case for you!