As a result of the response to Friday’s post, The In Between, I wanted to follow up with a few more thoughts on this topic.
I once heard a speaker say, “We all need to get through the swamp. The trick is to know where the rocks are.” That’s because he also knew that change is certain in life. That means we will go through a number of “in between” seasons. Such times of transition are pivotal because they tend to forecast how well we will enter the new season with its own tempos and rhythms.
Looking back over my shoulder some of those times in my life stand out in bold relief. There is that much clarity and almost a visceral response for these. Others are “normal development tasks” such as going to college, getting married, having a first child, and getting a first full-time job.
Of those that create almost an HD video experience, my husband’s deployment to a war zone while I was pregnant with our first child would likely top the list. Close behind it would be a season where both of my parents became ill and died within three months of each other. Their care and responsibility for a younger mentally handicapped brother fell to me. Others on the list would include the season when I was teaching full-time as well as being a wife, a mom, and going to graduate school part-time. Changing careers at 50 would be another. Each of these created an unsettling upheaval in the cadence that had been my life before it happened. Each also produced growth in every area of my life.
More than one factor will influence how we fare as we trek through the “in between”. The depth and breadth of our spiritual life will be pivotal. Another factor that will have a major impact is how close we are to our spouse and family. A third is the level of flexibility and adaptability typical for us.
If we have healthy relationships, we will enjoy time together with our closest family members and time apart. We will chafe a bit at change, but move forward. We will see possibilities for the next season. (How we balance that will affect the quality of closeness we experience.)
What do I mean?
If we are part of a family or relationship that is too close, we can become more dependent on each other. Any change in status of any member, any alteration in rhythms, might create fear or insecurity. These can open the possibility of using manipulation or guilt to return the family or relationship to the status quo. If there has been very little closeness, disconnection and more extreme independence will result.
Our flexibility will influence how you or I respond to any of this in the “in between”. By that I mean how well we manage and adjust to changes. That is even truer when our roles in the family or relationship change as a result of a normal developmental period, stress, or crisis. If there is a healthy balance between consistent stability and change, the “in between” or transition, then the person, relationship, or family will experience growth on the other side of it. They will discover the relationships have moved to a stronger, deeper level.
Letting go tends not to be easy. The familiar somehow comforts us and convinces us that our worlds are safer somehow. Letting go sometimes shows us our tendency to try to control our environment and those in it.
Traveling through the “in between” will be best accomplished with a companion, someone who has walked through, lived through such times. (They will know where the rocks in the swamp are.) Choosing the right companion will make all the difference.
As I look back over my shoulder, I see that I did not always choose the right companion when I was younger. Sometimes I relied too much on trying to be strong or even allowing myself to be weak. Sometimes I tried to avoid the reality of the change and other times I was too clingy with someone.
I have discovered the best companion to travel through the “in between” is Jesus. He has experienced what it is like and walked it out perfectly. He not only knows where the rocks are, He is the rock.
The key is what the quality of that relationship with Him was like before the “in between” arrived.