To be in-between something is defined as “being situated between two extremes, or two categories”; an intermediate thing; between two clear states or stages and therefore hard to “describe or know exactly”. To be in-between is somewhat uncomfortable and often where, I think, most of our growth and exploration happens. It forces us to not settle for simplistic thinking that doesn’t get at the core and rawness of where we actually are. It nudges us past dualisms and into a more nuanced and expansive way of living and believing. But this can be hard for us. We like to keep things neat and tidy and clean and clear. The in-between is always an invitation to look beyond that, and to discover more.
I am quite literally in an in-between these days. Geographically and physically yes, but that too can mirror the in-betweens we find ourselves internally as well. I moved cities a couple of weeks ago, in order to pursue some vocational goals. And it can feel like I am in-between two worlds. I have not yet started my program for school, and so the days here are very slow and simple and lonelier without the community that became family to me. I am slowly meeting new people and making this a “home”. But, it is not about leaving the people and places back in Hamilton behind and venturing into a completely new life here in Ottawa. It is all about integration. It is about the merging that can happen, and that does happen in the in-between. It happens in the tension of stepping away from something, from a place, and leaning in towards a new landing place where the old and new can merge.
Unfortunately we cannot rush this process. I know how easy it is to want to run back to the “old” way, to the familiar, to the comfortable. It is SCARY to step into and onto new frontiers. It literally feels like you have jumped off a cliff and have not yet safely landed. It feels like our spirit is lingering in the free fall, and it feels fragile and frightening. We don’t quite know what it will look like to land and where we go from there. But, this free fall, this in-between is ESSENTIAL to our becoming and to our growth.
My experience of God, the world and the resiliency within myself has expanded tremendously since I have learnt to embrace these more liminal spaces. It has required a lot of courage and owning my doubts and fear, and honestly that has been painful but so very liberating. I am no expert on these things – all I have is my experience and my knowledge of how others I admire have walked through these tensions. So, if you find yourself in an in-between, this would be my advice to you:
- Trust the process. Try and let yourself just BE where YOU ARE. Don’t rush it, in fact you can’t really. These things take the time they take.
- Ask yourself questions about the uncomfortable feelings, “What is this fear saying to me? What is it highlighting? Why do I want to stay in the familiar? What does this say to me about how I view God and myself?”
- Find your tribe. Not everyone will understand the season you find yourself in. Find those friendships and relationships that are safe and welcoming of you, no matter what; and let them into this time of your life.
May time and love, patience and gentleness embrace you as you journey forward.