A home in-between

by Kristin on December 6, 2012

in Belief, doubt & hope

Photo by joelk75

Life is full of in-between spaces. We can’t avoid them.

Sometimes we pass through an in-between space as a tourist, with just an overnight bag and an attitude of curiosity, taking pictures to help you remember what it was like to be there. Being there is a novelty—something to write about on a postcard.

It’s another experience, entirely, to live in-between—to sign a lease and unpack all of your things, putting them away in drawers and cupboards, not happy about where you landed, but not sure where else you can go, for now.

* * * * *

There are so many metaphors—so many words, and images—to help us think about Advent and what it means for God to become flesh. We are in the dark, watching for the light. We are pregnant, anticipating the birth of new life. We are stuck, for now, in the in-between spaces in our lives—the now-and-not-yet—hoping for something more to come.

“So often, life is lived in the in between,” writes Addie in her most recent Advent post. “You have chosen the baby in the manger. You’ve chosen Immanuel, God with us.  But it doesn’t feel like he’s here. It feels like you are wandering the cold dark streets of a strange town alone.”

“…in a sense, isn’t all of life a way station…?” writes Suzannah.

“For me, I think, the prevalent theme of Advent is often longing,” Lisa Colon Delay says in her comment on my recent post. And longing, really, is all about being in-between—about knowing what you want, what is possible, but not yet being able to make contact and grasp it.

The metaphors and images do help bring us closer to what this season means, but they don’t let us actually grasp the full truth. As Ray Hollenbach points out in his post today, “Although the words of men have failed to explain it, still the Word became flesh.” So if I can’t explain it, can I at least touch it? I feel like a child with a blindfold, swinging wildly for a pinata that I never manage to actually make contact with. I know in my head that it’s there, but still…

* * * * *

The in-between parts of life are grey, with edges that are so blurred they can hardly be called edges. We are neither here nor there, and we can’t seem to find words for where, exactly, we are. Which leaves us feeling alienated and misunderstood. Floating, without an anchor or a paddle.

I have lived that uneasy space before—in that place where it’s important to keep reminding yourself “This is home, for now,” because nothing about it feels like home. There was a year between when my now-ex-husband moved out of our house and when our divorce was finalized. I didn’t feel married, but I was, as far as the church and the state were concerned. The house I was living in no longer felt like home, but it had to be sold before I could begin the process of making a new home. And there were friends who still carried the label “friend” in my mind, but who no longer felt like friends. Our relationships had been broken, and were lying there in pieces, waiting for us to decided whether they could be repaired or if the pieces should just be swept up, the dust pan tilted toward the trash.

My feelings about God during that time were similar to my feelings about those friendships. I couldn’t continue to think about him as the God I had always thought he was, but I had no idea how to move forward without him, or how to begin reframing who he was to me in my new reality. I was in-between.

But God gets that. And maybe what I need to learn, this season, is that he’s not just at the destination, waiting for me to figure out how to get there. He’s in the in-between with me, with us. It’s a place he knows quite well, seeing as how he is God who became flesh, a baby.

“What does it look like for God to live as a man?” Ray Hollenbach writes. “It starts with humility, danger, and promise—not so different from each human life that comes from God.” Not so different, either, from what it means to make a temporary home in-between.

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  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    i’ve never been in the exact space you describe, and yet it is so achingly familiar. praise be to God who walks our in-betweens with us. Emmanuel. you write it well, friend.

    • kt_writes

      Thank you, Suzannah, and thank God that he is so willing and able to be with us in those places.

  • rayhollenbach

    One of your strengths, Kristin, is to see diverse points of view and then pull the various threads into a coherent narrative. Thanks for helping us each see the bigger picture. Christmas Blessings!


    • kt_writes

      Thank you, Ray, and thanks for continuing to lay a table with such great food for thought, over at your blog.

  • http://twitter.com/katiengibson Katie Noah Gibson

    I know this in-between space (though not in precisely the way you know it). And it can be hard, and uncomfortable. Thanks for this fresh perspective, friend.

    • kt_writes

      I love that, as people with so many different life experiences, we can still find so many ways to connect and relate. One of the amazingly powerful things about stories!

  • Jill

    Have you read the children’s book “God in Between” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso? This post brought it to mind.

    • kt_writes

      No, I haven’t, but it sounds like I should! Thanks for letting me know about it.

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  • jlynch17

    I just came across your blog yesterday and this post truly resonates with me. I am living in an in-between very similar to what you described; one year after separating from my husband with the divorce pending and still living in a house with my kids that no longer feels like home. I don’t feel that I truly fit in anywhere right now. I am stuck, as you wrote, “in the in-between spaces in our lives—the now-and-not-yet—hoping for something more to come.” Your writing gave me some much-needed hope that I am not alone in feeling this way, and that there are better things to come. I needed that today. Thank you.

    • kt_writes

      It’s so good to “meet” you—I’m glad this post has helped you feel more hope and less alone! Even though I don’t know you and your story, I do believe in the possibility of not just better but amazing things to come! That’s how God’s redemption works. Blessings on you and your kids.