We ran the gamete of challenges and opportunities in 2017. Over the past two years, I’ve felt a sort of spiritual shift, in which my eyes have been so opened during every experience, in a way that leaves me unable to qualify them as “good” or “bad.” During the course of life’s events these last two years, and for most of 2017, I told many people that I have felt “suspended,” for lack of a better word. I was caught in the middle of what once was and what my heart told me might be coming, with no real means to move forward or backward.
It wasn’t the sort of situation where I questioned our forward march—weren’t we left with no choice but to leave New York? With no choice but to start the business? With no choice but to do our best to walk daily in what we knew to be temporary circumstances? And I don’t feel that it was laziness that brought me to the standstill in the middle, because I felt ripe for something—but what? How do you lay your hands to something specific when everything around you feels rather light and uncertain? So for lack of anything else to do (and probably from exhaustion having tried too long to set some things right of my own power), I finally sat down and I waited.
Many times this year, I’ve tried to describe this choice, the waiting. And though I gave it the good old college try, I’ve come up short on words every single time. I think the lack of descriptive capability is because it’s been something felt, not designed, and the most tangible imagery I can come up with is a metaphor.
So here it is: It’s like I left New York and stepped on to this suspension bridge, walking through the clouds. I couldn’t see where we were, I certainly couldn’t see where we were going. I could only see what was right before my eyes. Sometimes, it was nothing, and yet I was in awe of it anyway, to find peace and light and nearly feel able to touch it—that the nothing wasn’t actually nothing at all, it was real and tangible. Then there would be these little gifts along the way. They were not things I was expecting and they were given for no particular reason. Sometimes I didn’t realize they were gifts until I’d opened them; other times they were wrapped up in this way that immediately gave away what was inside, but that made it even more exciting somehow. No matter how far I journeyed, I didn’t reach the end of the bridge. Nothing cleared to reveal what I was walking toward. I never lost the sensation of being suspended between one thing and the next. But I did come to trust the bridge more and more, the mysterious and beautiful design that created function against all odds. To exist in this in-between became such a sweet space, or maybe I just got used to it; but I quit imagining where I was going. I knew I couldn’t fathom it, and also, I had the distinct sense that once it was revealed to me, the rules would change again. What would it mean to suddenly see once more? To not have to walk blindly through the clouds? What would I be doing when I wasn’t waiting? Because when you’re waiting, the method is rather cut-and-dry if you surrender to it. The rules are pretty black-and-white, you see. You survive. And in surviving, you cultivate an attitude, you exist in a heart-space because nothing in your physical world is expanding.
There was one particular month this year where the clouds were very thick, thick enough I even lost sight of where I was. I sat in the middle of that bridge, and I was so disoriented. The pull backwards was almost greater than the pull from ahead, so that I was stretched out in each direction. My chest ached at the tension; time pulled me to the past by one hand, to the future from the other, but my body existed for the present only. My heart was right in the middle, being tugged but not moving. Then a beam of light cut through the fog, and I had the clearest picture of the crucified Christ, arms stretched from one side to the other, leaving his body pulled taut right in the middle. His heart in the middle. There was the Lord of All, the creator of the stars, the designer of my suspension bridge, hung in between. The sweetness of it all, the absurd clarity I’d found during this time of transition, it all made sense: God is in the waiting.
When we decided to let go of our gross rental property and travel instead, that was one of those gifts that I knew the shape of but still couldn’t believe was for me. Yes, even then, I was still on the bridge. When we had to come back to the States sooner than we planned, well, that was more like a gift I didn’t recognize as such until much after opening it. But it was, because before 2017 ended, we wound up with something we hadn’t had in quite a long time: Home. We came home to a place I couldn’t have dreamed up for myself, with all the little details all tucked-up and tidy already. It came together under the most impossible of circumstances, working where it ought not to have, like a little Christmas miracle. The Advent season for me turned into yet another physical manifestation of all these things we know are going on in the spiritual realm, but we don’t tap into. We enter the Christmas season—and can you feel it, if you pay attention? How the world is just uneasy with waiting? The earth groans and cries out in anticipation because the waiting bears this miraculous, Christmas gift: Jesus.
Except now I see how He’s with us all along. Sure we say that; but I’ve walked it now. Through all the waiting, we think we feel that tension, but God bears the brunt of it. Jesus is stretched, like a bridge, to help us pass from one spot to the next. The groans we hear, that ache we feel, it is He, right along with us. Then we burst into this moment of light and peace and understanding, so awestruck by what we’ve walked through and where it’s brought us. That fission we get isn’t of our own accomplishment; it’s being covered in the presence of God—like the clouds we had to walk through were actually the Spirit.
Now that we are home, there has been this temptation to exclaim, “Finally!” again and again, as the congratulations pour in and people tell us we deserve this moment. To be fair, I am dressed in gratitude and I will not deny the joy that comes in celebrating this arrival. But I think we all know, that life is a series of bridges. This is a miraculous new beginning, but it’s an ending to a long journey, too; and I’m going to go ahead and give that some proper mourning. Here, the rules will be different. I’ll abandon the peace I found on the infinite bridge for whatever new lesson is wrapped up in this next chunk of life. And what is it that I deserve anyway? Because suddenly, walking through the uncertainty seems miraculous. You see what I mean about how life is not just the good or the bad, but that it’s everything? To surrender to that and to be in it, really in all of it, even if you’ve been taught it looks like defeat, it’s actually a delicious collapse into the heart of where God exists all the time: right in the middle of everything.
In 2017, I walked blindly because I had to. I’ll assign to the year words like “uncertain” and “suspended” and “waiting;” but not with the negative connotation we expect when we say or hear these words. No, I’ll use them as an invitation into this next year—and the one after that, and the one after that, and the one after that. Are you so certain what is in store for you? Have you taken on the mind of Christ to have the faith to be suspended? Can you trust enough to wait, not for what is on the other side, but to find that Truth was in the waiting all along.