Saturday, November 9, 2013

Living in Limbo, Learning to Wait.


I feel like a ping-pong ball
batted back and forth between
going,
staying,
going,
staying
And how do you make plans in Limbo?

We have tried. I have lain awake at night, my weary mind overloaded with possibilities, trying to prepare for the Unknown, and then comes the mental blue screen of death and I try not to panic.

When the Pilot and I started to discuss getting married, he gave me The Talk. No, not that one: the Talk which every military member has to have with the person who may become his or her spouse. The "this-is-what-it-looks-like" Talk. The "you-need-to-know-the-military-runs-my-life" Talk. The "nothing-is-ever-certain" Talk. How confident I was! I loved him– I knew that it didn't matter what the Air Force threw at us, we could take it on together. (Oh, blissful naiveté!)

The Big-Fat-Nasty-D-word has been a part of our lives since March. First, the Pilot was leaving. Then, in July, he wasn't. Then, the end of September, he was again. And we've been living in limbo ever since. Uncertainty has become our most constant companion– a very annoying roommate, which pokes its head into every speculation, ruins every plan we try to make for the holidays, whispers doubt into our ears. It keeps me awake at night.

I thought that the hardest thing, as an Air Force wife, would be kissing my husband goodbye for three months– or six– or twelve–
but I find that is not the case. (Or at least, not yet.)
Because if tomorrow the word finally came "you are leaving next week" I would feel the ache of parting from my other half, but I would feel relief, too. Oh yes. Not relief from him leaving me– simply the relief of being rid of the uncertainty, of having something known, at last. I would get to start waiting for him to come home; and perhaps this is a "grass-is-greener" mentality, but that just seems easier than waiting to find out whether or not he'll leave.

A year ago at Christmastime I read an Advent book on waiting– the author argued that it is the times of waiting, the "between-times", that we are shaped, grown, and sanctified the most. In the waiting times, we have a unique opportunity to hear God's voice inviting us into deeper intimacy. In the waiting times, we discover how little control we really have, and are invited to a posture of daily reliance and trust in our Father in Heaven who is sovereign over everything.

The message of the book, while it intrigued me deeply last year, assumes a new dimension now after these six last six weeks. I find myself wrestling, English-major-style, with words.

Limbo is a blank space, a place of emptiness– a void, a waste. Limbo is a place to escape as rapidly as possible. But waiting– that has a better connotation. Waiting means expectancy and hope. It is the artisan who painstakingly crafts patience and endurance. Waiting, like almost any worthy pursuit, is difficult– but its difficulty is a testament to its value.

So I am fighting– I am fighting to shift my paradigm, to retrain my rebellious mind and heart, to replace limbo with waiting. I am learning– very slowly– to lift open palms instead of clenched fists towards my Father in this time, to open my blind eyes and see that any illusion of control I had before this time was just that– an illusion. I am a stumbling, clumsy, awkward apprentice trying to imitate the Master who knelt and said, "Not my own, but Thy will be done." I fail daily– but I fall into the promise of His mercies which are new every morning.

I am learning how to wait.