I am living in Limboland – Purgatory, if you will, as it is just a little bit of Hell. Limboland is that in between place – a pressed in place as the limbo bar is steadily dropping lower and lower. My grief counselor described it as being forced through a funnel and she is right in that my circumstances have forced me from a wider plane – a place where options and choices once existed into a smaller place. There are still choices but they have been greatly narrowed down and very few of the things I dreamed of for my life remain – or maybe the remnants of my dreams have been so warped that things like marriage and motherhood while technically still exist are barely recognizable as the dreams I once held. My life is not a fairy tale. It never was, but at one point in time, before the lenses of my rose colored glasses became scratched and cracked, the fairy tale still felt attainable.
But the limbo bar has lowered and I am left to bend and contort myself in an attempt to fit within the new shrunken boundaries of my life.
Standing before the bar – do I turn from the bar walking away and concede defeat in exhausted resignation or do I defiantly walk into it rebelliously refusing any attempt at attacking the challenge that lies before me? Maybe I should twist and arch trying to negotiate a means beneath this bar that I once navigated with effort but a modicum of confidence. But the bar has fallen so much lower now that I have no real confidence in my ability to contort myself beneath it and frankly, I wonder if I have the flexibility required to be successful and if I have the fortitude to deal with the humiliation of both a failure to try and/or a failure to succeed.
I once read to shut out the constantly churning thoughts; my minds futile attempt to either work out a new, happier ending, or at the very least to thoroughly examine every detail in order to contain it and be able to pack it away in a small box that gets shoved into a back corner of the closet – never to be reopened but too valuable, too costly, to discard.
Now I read to hide from the utter silence. It is too difficult, or I simply have not learned the discipline of sitting silently before the Lord. I’m impatient and it’s frustrating trying to hear that still small voice and instead nothing more than silence echoes back. Alexander Theroux once said, “Silence is the unbearable repartee.” Can you relate?
So I’m imprisoned in Limboland although Purgatory is a more apt description in my estimation. Trapped between what was, lingering in this silent spot waiting for my heart to heal sufficiently so that I’m prepared to move into whatever God has planned – no longer angry yet still wounded leaving me resistant to what comes next but simultaneously antsy at this inactivity.
Fernando Ortega sings a song, “I Will Wait For My Change”. The chorus of that song goes:
“All the days of my struggle
I will wait for my change,
I will wait for my change to come.
Only do not hide Your face from me,
Don’t take Your hand away,
Don’t take Your hand away.
I will wait for my change to come.”
And this is where I find myself, waiting for my change to come, unable to see the Master’s face, trusting He will not take His hand away. And fast on the heals of this refrain, an old Avalon song plays through my mind – the Master’s plea to me? – Avalon’s “Dreams I Dream For You”:
“You taste the tears
You’re lost in sorrow
You see your yesterdays
I see tomorrow
You see the darkness
I see the spark
You know your failures
But I know your heart
The dreams I dream for you
Are deeper than the ones you’re clinging to
More precious than the finest things you knew
And truer than the treasures you pursue
Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you”
And I wait. I wait for healing. It can’t be rushed. It takes as long as it takes for the Holy Spirit to do His work in my heart – for my terror of God and His plans to subside – for my resistance to a future void of my most precious dreams to recede – for my heart to soften, for it to feel safe enough to tear down the protective walls I’ve built in an attempt (futile though it may have been) to guard my heart from any more excruciating pain.
We advise friends to wait on the Lord, to trust in the Lord as if doing either is a simple thing to accomplish – but the old man wars with the new man. Intellectually we realize that yes, we do need to wait on the Lord, we need to trust in Him, but putting it into practice is no easy feat – it’s a life long battle played out in different arenas of our lives from the arena of work, to parenting, the lust of the flesh and the arena of pride. The same battle plays out over and over demanding greater faith and more commitment with every consecutive battle.
My purgatory is not a punishment. I sincerely believe that God intends this season between my past and my future as a time of rest, a respite from the storms I’ve weathered and a time of renewal before the next storm is unleashed in my life. Believe me, I see the storm clouds on the horizon brewing and I’m not sure how much time I have before the next major storm in my life erupts. But during this time of respite I am struggling to rest. It’s hard to shift gears from constant diligence to rest. The mind has simply been conditioned to living on high alert and a new form of anxiety develops in the void left when the need for hyper awareness dissipates but you also know it’s just a matter of time before the winds whip up again and the storm is upon you with little or no warning.
How does one let down their guard in these kind of circumstances? How does one quiet themselves? I wish I had the answers. Maybe, the truth I’ve yet to accept is that I’m dependent upon the Holy Spirit for that as well – that I’m dependent upon Him for every little thing. He tells me to quiet myself and after metaphorically chasing my tail for far too long, I recognize that I can’t do it in own power and I break down and with humility ask God to help me to quiet myself. Then I’m back to waiting until one day I randomly notice that I’ve gone completely still within. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out this is exactly how it works as years ago I went through a very similar exercise in a battle over the power of fear in my life. How hard these lessons are to learn! How stubbornly defiant is the old man within, doggedly determined to tackle problems his way! How ignorant, slow witted, or lackadaisical the new man is having to relearn the same process repeatedly!
So maybe that’s my answer and now I have to decide if I’m ready to begin that process. Again. Am I ready to quit chasing my tail, to ask God to quiet my mind, my heart, my soul? Have I reached that point where I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I cannot do this for myself? That only God can quiet the restlessness within? The demand for answers? The need for justice? The fear of what this “next” plan holds? Am I resolved to pay the cost of discipleship regardless of price demanded? Am I ready? Will I ever be ready or simply too tired of this chronic emptiness to stand still any longer? Am I waiting on God or is He waiting on me? I don’t know the answers. I just don’t know.