I’m trying to figure out what it means to be in between—neither here nor there. How it feels is another matter, one I seem to know all too well. The tagline for my blog, after all, is “Finding myself neither here nor there.”
Just because I’m familiar with the feeling of this place, however, doesn’t mean I’m comfortable in it. In between is a place I naturally fight against and try to wind my way out of. Maybe that struggle is healthy in some ways, at some times, but right now God seems to be telling me, in no uncertain terms, to chill. To just be in this in-between place.
So here I am, in between the promise of spring and the focus of fall. In between the rush of my busiest work season and my next big project. In between the varied demands of mothering children and teenagers, and in between mothering at all, as my girls take turns heading off to a week at camp, then a vacation with their dad. I’m also in between a book proposal I was ready to start pushing into the world and the book that’s in me, waiting to be discovered and articulated.
No, I am not a fan of this place, and I do my best to explain this to God. All I hear in response is “Be still and know that I am God.” Fine.
I think of Lauren Winner’s book Still, which I am about halfway through (yes, once again in the middle). Lauren writes about post-divorce loneliness—all the ways she fights against and tries to evade it. Finally a friend suggests this:
Maybe I should try to stay in the loneliness, just for five minutes, just for ten minutes. Maybe the loneliness has something for me. Maybe I should see what that something is.
This week I’ve been trying to take this to heart, and put it into practice. I know all about that post-divorce loneliness. It is, after all, rooted in being in between. It occurs to me that being in this place, where I am right now, is also a certain kind of loneliness, compounded by the lack of distraction that comes from busily doing, moving, and acting with purpose.
So I will try to just be in this middle place and see what it has for me. The Bible is full of stories of people in in-between places. They wander and grumble and learn to trust as they move—often without knowing—toward a better place. I gather up all the grace I can muster and give myself permission to just be.
This has been harder than it sounds. I can’t just be. See? I’m impatient. I want to capture this experience—to pinpoint the teachable moment and write about it, photograph it, share it.
This morning, as I was walking, halfway between my home and the cafe (where I would sit down and…do what?), I tried just being and noticing. I loved the patterns of light and shadow on the sidewalks, leafy and organic, yet abstract and mysterious—a pattern, yet always shifting and moving. After several attempts to capture that image and the feeling it conjured, I gave up and put my camera away. Maybe it isn’t possible to illustrate what “in between” looks like, or to write about it, for that matter. Maybe that defeats the point of simply being here, still, and learning what it means for God to be God.