The Pause

A little over a year ago, I was miserable.

I had lost a job I loved.  I was starting a new job that I wasn’t sure if I would like at all.  My entire schedule was upended.  I had a new commute, new office mates, and a slew of new duties and tasks.

Every day for the first three months I cried, in spite of all of my attempts not to, because the change was simply so overwhelming.  I felt out of my depth, uncertain about whether or not this was what God wanted for me, and then increasingly resigned to the belief that what God wanted was for me to be dutiful, obedient, and…well, not happy.  Just obedient.  Just biding time.  My dreams, even the ones I thought God had given me, were irrelevant.

And then, four months in with God’s miraculous help, I pulled off a major project.

Six months in, I was promoted.

Seven months in, I started teaching again.

A little over a year in, now, and opportunities are sprouting up everywhere in a veritable garden of delights.  Yes, I have frustrating days and maddening problems, but I’m certainly not crying any more.  I’m happy and excited to be where I am.

And I would not—would not—have believed you if you’d told me this a little over a year ago.

That’s the nature of the Pause.

The Pause is where you live on the journey, the seemingly-eternal in-between when all the action has frozen in place and nothing seems to be happening anywhere.  There’s no movement.  The Pause isn’t always bad, exactly.  Sometimes it’s acceptable.  Fine.  Mediocre.  The Pause is what happens after The Time When Everything Was Perfect and before The Time Everything Turned Out Great After All.

The Pause is the period of time between ordering the package—yay!—and the package actually arriving on your doorstep five days later.

The Pause is waiting for the acceptance letter.

The Pause is being in-between jobs, or having a job and hoping someone above you eventually acknowledges your effort and your hard work so you can get the promotion you deserve.  The Pause is wondering if this is the time you’ll get pregnant.  The Pause is wondering if this person is the one God chose for you.  The Pause is the aftermath of a dream that died and the uncertainty that stretches out after.

The Pause is miserable, and it seems like the pause is endless.

In retrospect, three months is not that long a period.  Three months isn’t even a full season of the year!  Three months isn’t a full pregnancy or even a full football season.  But I was convinced that three months was forever.  Three months was the entirety of my life.  Three months was the preview of what would be laid out before me, eternally, forever.

Fine, you say, but some of us have been living in the Pause a lot longer than that.

I get it.  I mean, Moses died in the Pause along with an entire generation of Israelites.  He never did get to cross over to the Promised Land during his life on earth.  He got to see it, but that dream—the dream that God helped him to author for his people, that God envisioned and allowed him to participate in—was never realized while he drew breath on earth.

Fortunately, the whole “drawing breath on earth” thing is a brief, brief period in the eternal future God has envisioned for those who love Him.  From the perspective of eternity, the Pause is a blip.  A breath.  A moment.

But for those of us who have been in it, the Pause might as well be forever.

The Pause is where “why?” lives.  The Pause is a breeding ground for anger, bitterness, resentment, and frustration.  The Pause is where Job was: the long slog between being born and dying that was nothing but suffering and loss.  The Pause is full of diatribes, the saddest Psalms, confusion, and bewilderment.

A lot of us like to offer comfort for the Pause, but to tell you the honest truth, it isn’t much help sometimes.  I know two of the dearest and best Christians in the whole wide world, and they poured themselves out trying to offer me comfort when I was in the Pause.  It barely made a dent.  I wasn’t ready to hear it.

So if you are there, in the Pause, stuck and waiting–or even if you’re not, because you’ll be back there again one day–then this is what I’ll offer instead:

  1. The Pause isn’t forever, even if it seems that way.  It will end.
  2. The Pause isn’t without value.  Joseph became a forgiver in the Pause.  David grew into a king in it. Peter wrestled with his betrayal in it.  The Israelites became God’s nation in it.  The Pause will change you, shape you, mold you.  The Pause is what prepares you for everything that comes after.

So keep on keeping on.  You’ll get to where God intends you to go.

The waiting only feels like forever – and once you’re on the other side, it will seem like no time at all.

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