The In-Between Place

I've been reading through the Bible with the children, a chapter each morning. We’re in Exodus now, just leaving Egypt. The Israelites have just raised their first complaint. They establish their whining pattern: “Why did you bring us out here to die? We were better off as slaves in Egypt.”  The application to my own life did not occur to me until I listened to these lyrics sung by Sara Groves:

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard and I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I‘ve learned
And those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned

She sings about wanting freedom, but feeling afraid to go forward once the opportunity presents itself. Hmmmm. Sounds familiar.

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me either way.

Big things are at our doorstep. We have some big projects to do before we can go very far (keep your eyes peeled for Jay’s repair updates), but a long trip is in store for 2009, Lord willing, and I feel change in the air. Even the ever-patient Jay is saying that packing up and coming down every weekend is getting old. 

As far as I can figure, as in swimming, there are two ways to approach major life change: jump in, ignoring water temperature, or ease in one body part at a time until you’re used to it.  With the first, you leave yourself no exit option. There is no in-between place; you are either dry or you are treading water. You still have to adjust, but you do it and get it over with all at once.  With the latter approach, you can back out at the first sign of goosebumps or sharks. You might decide you didn’t really want to go swimming after all and miss out on a great adventure.

In the beginning, a slow transition seems like the best way to get used to major change. But the in-between place has its own dangers—there is a point at which transitioning becomes stalling, and the longer you wait, the harder it gets. We’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the discomforts of going between two places. The warm shower and all its related land-based comforts wait at the end of every trip. And sea-faring adventure waits at the end of every regularly-scheduled week. Sometimes I think it would be better just to jump in, sharks or not.