The Land Between
For the past two months, I've been in the "land between." It's a place we often visit in our lives. It's the place where we haven't started what's next or finished what just ended. It can often be a very emotional place. All of us have been in the land between at some point in our lives. We usually travel through from High School to college, and then again from college to "real life." We spend time there between jobs, break-ups, losses, and regret. The Israelites spent a lot of time in the land between, making mistakes, getting frustrated and asking "Why?", a lot. We, as humans, haven't changed much and our time in the land between is often littered with heartache.
My current journey through the land between is career based. It started when Brooke and I announced that we were heading away from t-shirts and into something new. Actually, that's not totally true. The journey through the land between doesn't usually start when we end something, it starts when our hearts, minds, and souls feel like we should end something. So, while I want to say that my journey through started the day that announcement was posted, that's not entirely true. Because really it started as a small little seed in the early months of 2018. The journey through the land between usually starts in conflict, in unwillingness and sometimes, in disobedience. Now, I didn't have a vision from the Lord saying, "Stop selling shirts!" but I did feel like something needed to change and instead of leaning into my Creator for deeper wisdom and guidance, I did something else.
Imagine that moment in a movie where someone runs into a hospital holding someone they love screaming, "I don't know what happened, they were fine and then they just collapsed! Someone help!" Now, our business didn't collapse in every sense of the word last year, but I did feel like something was off, and so I ran through the hypothetical hospital, carrying my 13-year-old business from door to door yelling, "I don't know what happened, everything was great and now something is wrong. Can you help?"
No matter what door I ran to I didn't feel like I was getting the answer that was needed, and so eventually after acknowledging the exhaustion from running, I decided to look up and ask God, "What do I do?" And instead of telling me which door to run next, He simply nudged and said, "No one has the answer but me, and the answer is to lay it down. Trust that I will see you through."
So, after months of running with my arms full, I decided that I would lay it down and travel light the rest of the way. I knew I was still in the land between but now my arms were open and my gaze was towards the future instead of what was right in front of me.
That quiet nudge to stop running from door to door and instead lay it down made the announcement "to stop our business" much easier. And with that decision came a lot of peace to my heart, soul, and mind. And even better, it came with encouragement from friends, family, and followers.
But that didn't just end my journey through the land between, in fact, it was still very much the beginning.
And while I'm not just aimlessly wandering, and I do have an idea of where I hope to end up career-wise, it's still difficult. It's hard to know what to put your time and resources into while you are traveling the "in between". In some ways part of your time goes to what was -- packing, remembering, regretting, thinking. And then part of your time goes to what will be -- planning, thinking and to be honest, being a little fearful of what lies ahead. So, you end up feeling stuck and pulled two directions -- forward: the way that you are excited (and a little nervous) to go to, and backward: the other way that you want to be done with. I want to be moved out of our office space, done with moving all of our furniture and boxes, and onto the next thing. I want to be out of the land between and into the next place. Literally.
A friend of mine recently suggested that I should take the Enneagram test, even though I consistently test as an Enneagram 3, I've self-diagnosed myself as an Enneagram 7 which are The Enthusiasts.
As a seven, wanting to be done with what was and onto what is next is more real for me than any other number on the Enneagram. In his song about Seven's, Sleeping at Last sings, "I want to climb that mountain before I cross that bridge." That perfectly describes my heart as I do almost anything in life. Even as I read this post for this podcast, I just want to be to the sharing part. Let's skip the editing and re-writing and finish, so I can tell people how excited I am about it.
So it should as no surprise to myself, or to those who know me well, that being in the land between is harder and more challenging for me than it might be for others.
But, what I am learning as I grow and mature, and hopefully become a healthier person, is that even though I know that this current "career-related" land between won't last forever, I still live in a land between. The land between earth and heaven, the land between my temporary location and my permanent home. It's because of that, that I am learning how to be present even when I want to "climb the mountain before I cross the bridge."
Whether you are a seven, or another number on the Enneagram scale, I am sure you've felt like you've been in between things before and might feel that way right now. You might be right there with me, hopefully approaching what is next in your life. Or, you might be in the early, often blurry stages, simply trying to talk yourself out of that big life decision you feel the Lord is leading you to make. You might feel tired from running from door to door with your business, broken relationship, job, or big decision, begging for help when what you know God is asking you to do is lay it down.
Even though I naturally want to move quickly, I know that my life here is all in between and all usable for pointing to Jesus, as long as I remember to lay it down. I want to travel light while I'm here, so I can be obedient, listen better, adapt and move quickly. I want to travel through the land between remembering that Jesus, himself, was so tired of waiting at the end of our journey, that he ran through heaven to earth to meet us here and journey right beside us -- beside you, and me.
So, when you are feeling tired and worn out, as I have felt for the last year, remember that Jesus is here with you, walking, guiding, comforting, providing. He's doing all the things He always does to help us with our journies. We simply need to lean on Him, and remind ourselves to lay it all down, again and again, traveling light as we walk through the unknowns of life and all that is before us, believing fully that when we arrive we won't be alone. For He is already there.