“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” —Gilda Radner
“An intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place.” Unless that doesn’t suit you, and you’d prefer the alternative definition:
“…a region on the border of hell or heaven.”
From where I sit, that last one seems a bit more like it.
I can deal with most anything, but the unknowing. Uncertainty, unanswered questions, unplotted courses, rough drafts. That kind of unfinished limbo breeds fear and worry like bunnies in the spring. It’s a barren piece of real estate outside of the peace of heaven and bumping up right next to hell.
Diagnose me Type A, a control freak, or OCD, but I like my ducks in a row and my I’s and T’s dotted and crossed. Limbo doesn’t work for me.
But life isn’t listening. Instead of giving neat edges and penned schedules, it’s serving up complication and uncertainty. An economy that can’t find it’s groove and grow. Family dynamics that could change drastically without notice. Grown children who don’t always make the choices I scripted for them. Health unknowns with unpredictable outcomes. Business questions with no clear answers.
Uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty.
I know you know what I’m talking about. Some of you woke up this morning all tied up in knots. Your outlook on life looks entirely different than it did yesterday.
There’s not much you and I can do about the limbo. It’s the real estate of life, where we relate, work, move and dream, even when we try to contain and control it by trimming the shrubs and mowing the yard. Human life moves in uncertainty. We have plans, predictions and possibilities, but very few guarantees.
Still. The gift of uncertainty is how it forces us to focus on what we know. Those guarantees make far better real estate, turning uncertain lives into more of heaven and less of hell.
- Guarantee #1: God is real, whether you believe in Him or not.
- Guarantee #2: This life is not all there is. We’re made for eternity.
- Guarantee #3: One of our greatest assets remains within reach: Each other.
- Guarantee #4: This real God, who created life and prepared eternity, hasn’t abandoned us in our uncertainty. His presence is with us in it. We are not alone.
For those of you who, along with me, wrestle with the unfinished, undone, hellish places of this limbo life, let’s you and I do something different:
Let’s stop rehearsing our uncertainties and instead stand strong on our guarantees. Our world doesn’t need more negative naysayers who gripe and complain and fret about the mess we’re all in. Our world and neighbors and children need people who have the vision to see beyond the uncertainty to the guarantees. And are willing to give voice to it.
Our greatest message isn’t reminding everyone of the horrible limbo we’re all living in.
Our greatest message is our confident certainty: A real God and the Hope of Heaven.
And an eternal life with absolutely no limbo at all.
How will focusing on what you know change how you feel today?
Michele, this is an outstanding post! I like the clarity with which you express these four certainties. You are right, focusing on these certainties instead of our uncertainties makes a huge difference in the way we think and even the way we fell. Thanks for this reminder!
Thank you, Jim. I spent a lot of time thinking about those certainties, what I KNOW to be true. I spend far too much time dwelling on the “what if” questions. Time to change that!
A powerful post. My thoughts and prayers are with you. What I find frustrating during times of limbo (which I too have a lot of now), is that it’s easy to miss all the good that is happening in the moment. Limbo offers so much good too, but if we spend all our time worrying about outcomes we can miss some of that joy.
Karin, I agree with you 100%! One of the most important lessons I’m learning in this season is how extraordinary these times of uncertainty are. If I’m always wishing for the “fix,” the end of whatever current scenario has me all in knots, I miss out on the beauty of what’s happening right here. Ironically, I’m discovering that the end or finish is often anti-climactic. But what happens in the middle is truly transformational.
I’ve been in limbo for so long, with my book still out on submission (9 mos later). Finally, I stopped grieving my inability to do nothing and DID SOMETHING–I started writing another book (in a totally different genre, in case my submitted genre is an epic fail). At first it was hard, but forcing myself to move ON has freed me from the prison I felt I was in. Sometimes it’s all we can do–put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.
Prayers for you!
9 months?!?! This is me, patting you on the back. 😉 As for starting a new project, WELL DONE. I love how you’re not allowing the waiting to eclipse more creating.