In between where you are and where you’re going is the meantime.
That indefinite span in which anything can happen —or nothing at all. The time you spend waiting to be on the other side —and how you spend it.
In between buying the guitar and playing the solo is hours of skin-splitting practice. In between first kiss and Golden Anniversary is days of tears, silence, and change.
In between the call and the answer is the waiting.
The meantime is waking up early and going to bed late, shopping and cooking and eating and doing the dishes, going to work and going to school, balancing the bank account and wondering where the money will come from, returning library books and buying birthday presents, doubting that you heard the call at all because the meantime is
And you tell yourself to hang on just a little longer. That one day the meantime will be over,
but it won’t.
Because the meantime is always now.
Because once you pass through this meantime you begin another one. Because you’re always in between—a series of overlapping meantimes, always ending, always starting, always hoping, always moving, even when you think you’re standing still.
In between your first breath and your last is your life, each moment a meantime.
No one’s more surprised that we’re still married than my husband and me. By all rights, we shouldn’t be. Let me tell you the story. [VIDEO]
I never expected to be married for 10 years.
Hell, I never expected to be married at all.
And six years ago, I expected to be divorced by now.
Lino and I haven’t had an easy marriage. It started out
strong—we coasted on the heady fumes of infatuation way longer than most
couples—but when the rosy glow wore off, things broke bad. Real bad.
I’m talking lies, gaslighting, manipulation, cheating, separation. Horrible stuff. No one would’ve blamed us for walking away. In fact, most of our friends and family gently (and not so gently) encouraged us to do just that. Sometimes we encouraged it, too.
While we didn’t hate each other, we sure as hell didn’t like each other—not to speak of love. Everything about our relationship screamed divorce. And yet, no matter what awfulness we perpetrated against each other, we stayed together.
But rather than try to explain WHY in writing, I want to tell you in person.
So grab your drink and settle in. It’s story time.
Now, I tell you that story to tell you this one:
This weekend, Lino and I are renewing our vows.
Ten is the number of completion, so our 10th anniversary is the perfect time to close the book on the story of our old marriage and to forge a new covenant, to start a new life with Christ at the center.
We’re bringing every broken promise, every wound, every sin to the altar where we’ll repent and forgive, washing away our past, then make new vows to honor one another and the God who’s always had our backs, even when they were turned on each other.
Honestly, it’s more like a baptism than a wedding.
I don’t know what the next ten years will hold. While our
relationship is wildly better than it was, it’s not perfect (not that it ever
will be). We still fight, still ignore each other, still overwork, still cling
to old hurts. We’re still human.
But what I do know is that the God who started a good work in us is faithful to complete it—and he’s done some killer work so far. The three of us are on an adventure together, walking the long road from where we started to where we’re going, and only one of us knows the way. So Lino and I will follow, carrying only what we need as we start this next phase of the journey, our eyes on the horizon, watching as the sun rises on a new day.
“If anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.” [2 Corinthians 5:17 TPT]
When we run across stuff like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or The Happiness Project, we jump on it like Mario on a mushroom thinking we’ve found the solution to all our problems. High on hope, we breathlessly share our life-changing aspirations with anyone who will listen (and some who’d rather not).
I mean, who doesn’t want to quit smoking, clean up their eating, purge their house of clutter, delete their social media, quit their soul-crushing job, and move to a tropical island? That’s the stuff that dreamboards are made of.
Who wants to suffer withdrawal from nicotine or sugar or caffeine, face their hoarding and attachment to objects, lose friends and be left out, start over at the bottom rung, and be alone in a place where they don’t speak the language?
Nobody, that’s who.
And so while we love to talk about changing our lives, very few of us do.
Because we forget that change has a cost.
We forget the struggle, the lack, the fear, and the pain we’ll suffer as we reach for our heart’s desire.
To truly change our lives, we have to sacrifice things that bring us comfort and security, things we’ve lived with so long we don’t know who we’d be without them, things we’ve accepted as our identity. Ideas, habits, beliefs, relationships.
We have to choose to leave the old behind to step into the new, even when it hurts like hell to do it.
As I stand on the precipice of a life I’ve never known, I find I must become a person I’ve never been. I’m shedding my skin, sheets of old me sloughing off by the week, taking with it my assumptions about who I am and what I need to not just survive, but to thrive.
And it hurts.
Letting my husband take his rightful place when I’ve been in charge for years hurts.
Allowing my daughter to have big feelings when I want to stop them hurts.
But there comes a point when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.
And on the other side of that is a life even dreams can’t imagine. One free of the itchy tightness suppressing my spirit. One where I walk upright, fully myself, unburdened by fear.
One I want–but have to pay for.
Enduring the crucible is the only way to truly change your life. There is no easy way out, no magic bullet, no fairy godmother. In order to be different, you must be different. And most people choose not to because it’s hard, it’s messy, and it hurts.
But it’s worth it.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. [Joshua 1:9]
What changes are you facing that are costing you more than you bargained for? How can you remind yourself that it’s worth it?
Of job loss, scarcity demons, uncertainty, stones, and–most importantly–hope.
It’s been a long weekmonth season. Since the start of the year, I’ve been pressed, squeezed, and tested in ways I never imagined I would be, much less that I’d survive. I’ve been more excited and sure than ever; I’ve cried and doubted more than ever. Life has been increasingly wondrous and terrifying at the same time.
Perhaps the biggest suckerpunch of all came last week, when my husband was told his last day of work is May 31st. After 10 years of service, loyally shepherding the company and its people, his job is being “phased out” because his company is “restructuring,” and there are no plans for him to “transition” to a new role. Which wouldn’t call for scare quotes if they hadn’t promoted the protege of the most money-hungry, least compassionate director in the company the same week.
Translation: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
I got the news in the car headed for the Disney Store. (Their displays are always changing, they have shows to watch, and they don’t care if you’re not buying. It’s like going to the playground without getting all that nature on you.)
My body autopiloted us to the mall. My brain seized up, whirring in processing mode, trying to comprehend what the news meant for us.
Both of us came from low-income families, and Lino worked sacrificially hard to get into this tax bracket. It’s allowed me the freedom to be a housewife, to build businesses and write books, and to stay home with our daughter. It’s been an honor and a privilege for us to be a single-income household.
But suddenly being a no-income household is uncharted territory, and my old scarcity demon seized its chance to claw its way up from the depths.
Strict budget. Meal planning. Cut the gym. EI. Get a real job. Daycares are full. Sell the car. Cancel life insurance. Get to the dentist and fill prescriptions before the benefits end. Cancel your anniversary.
The familiar litany of fear and control rolled through me as I got Mackenzie into the stroller. The parking lot was fill of warm sun and the sweet smell of spring, but they couldn’t reach me. I was tumbling too fast down a darkening path, getting lost in thoughts I didn’t want to think.
That’s why I’m surprised I noticed it.
A tiny splash of fuchsia on the concrete by the automatic door into the mall.
I swerved sharply to look. And when I realized what it was, tears sprung into my eyes.
One word. That’s all. Painted on a stone lying right where I would see it. Dozens of people had passed it in the time it took us to cross the parking lot, but no one had noticed it. Except me.
I picked up the stone and closed my fingers around it like a lifeline, its reassuring weight in my palm also gently pushing down my rising anxiety.
Thank you, but no. You aren’t needed. She is taken care of. She is mine. Stand down.
“What you find, Mommy?”
I opened my hand to show her.
“What is it?”
“It says, hope.“
“God’s trying to tell Mommy something.”
I gave the stone another squeeze and tucked it into my pocket, then hit the button to open the door, leaving behind fear with every step.