Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Living in Limbo

I wish I had a dollar -- hey, I'd settle for a dime -- for every minute in just the past 10 years I've spent in what the people at Merriam-Webster refer to as "an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition".

In other words, in limbo.  

In the past nearly-ten years, I've sold 3 houses, bought 2, and had one built. I've waited on decisions from buyers and loan officers.

I've waited on word from hiring committees and from insurance companies.

I've waited on doctors' reports and on the results of an IRS audit. 

And now I'm in limbo again as I wait for the sign in my front yard and the real estate agent who put it there to work their magic. 

I imagine that you've spent some time in limbo as well.

It's not a comfortable place to be. 

But I've learned in just the past few months that while being in limbo is unpleasant, it can actually be a good thing.

Not fun. But good.

You see, for most of my life, when I've been faced with a period of uncertainty, of something not yet happening that I wanted to happen, I'd consistently resort to the same game plan:


Impatient drumming of fingertips on nearest surface + attempts to force my will on the situation + planning + plotting + obsessing about the situation + tears + frustration + dogged determination to personally make it happen + prayers for a result that lined up with my plans

Sound familiar?

This time, though, as I've been waiting for my house to sell, I've been employing an entirely different strategy.

Why? Because I finally realized that all my absolutely exhausting efforts had one thing in common. Each one of them -- separately and collectively -- was futile. Totally ineffective.

My new strategy is simple.

Instead of drumming and plotting and planning and forcing and obsessing and crying and . . . well, you get the picture. Instead of all that, I do one very simple thing.

I simply don't allow myself to focus on the situation that's placed me in limbo and on my desire for a solution. Any time even the hint of concern or frustration raises its ugly head, I deliberately, intentionally replace that thought with something else.

Primarily, I pray. I pray without focusing on the sale of my house. Instead, I thank and praise God for all he has done and continues to do for me and in me. I intercede on behalf of others. I ask that He help me honor Him and increase my trust in him during this time of waiting. I ask that He show me how I can use this difficulty in my own life to help others. And yes, I sometimes ask, after I've addressed everything else, that He bring a buyer for my home.

I don't ask every time. Not because the issue isn't important, but because, quite honestly, I've come to realize the other things -- the things I talk with Him about first -- are what's really important.

I look over my prayer list. I consider the list of people who are battling cancer or other serious life issues. I think about the friends grieving the loss of a dear loved one or the loss of a job and who are facing true financial uncertainty. I picture former students who are now serving in the military or who are starting full-time jobs or heading off to college. I don't actually pray; instead, I just pause on each name and think of that person.

Often, I journal. Instead of focusing on what I want and what I don't yet have, though, I begin listing all the times in just the past few years God has answered my prayers that have blessed me and brought me joy. Or I write a letter to God. Or I simply write whatever crosses my mind.

I do something physical. I lace up my walking shoes and go for a long walk or pack a box or two of possessions in anticipation of my move. I lift weights while listening to uplifting music. I turn on my favorite oldies radio station and dance.

I make a deliberate effort to make someone else happy. I visit a friend in the hospital or send a card to an acquaintance going through a difficult time. I go shopping, not to buy anything at all, but to see how many people I can smile (sincerely) at or say something kind to. I look for and post positive things on social media.

Sometimes I watch a television program I know will make me laugh, or at least smile. I'm currently working my through the entire series of Frasier, laughing out loud at the witty dialogue between Frasier, Niles, Martin, Daphne, and Roz. 

My strategy is working amazingly well. No, my house hasn't sold. Yet.

But something even better is happening. I'm talking with God more than ever before; talking less about myself and more about others. And I'm listening to Him -- reading the Bible or just sitting quietly.

And the result is that I've been enveloped in a calm and peace that I've never before felt while in a state of limbo. I'm even laughing more than I have in a long time.

I'm no longer depending on my circumstances or on the behavior of others to make me happy; instead, I'm finding peace where I am.

Even if it's in limbo. 




3 comments:

  1. This is so good Patti! You are a wonderful writer with great talent!

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  2. Patti, I can identify so closely with many of the emotions you are experiencing today. However, when the for sale sign went up on our house on Monday, I couldn't look at it. My heart broke. This was supposed to be the place we retired. My husband wants a divorce and the sale of our home is inevitable.

    Your shift in perspective is so encouraging to me. I am starting to see the wonderful things about the home, yard, and neighborhood, God meant it to be temporary. He still has a plan for me and it is good. Thank you for your encouraging words.

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  3. I love your stlye of writing Patti.
    You shared wonderful words of advice that we can apply to our lives wherever we are.
    Limbo is not a nice place to be. I've been there so many times that I've lost count.
    Eventually we move past the state of limbo, and with shaky feet discover stability and contentment. It makes the long wait worthwhile.

    I've also learned that after many years, it takes less and less to be content. Life strips away the unnecessary "fluff" in our lives and we find ourselves happy in stages and places in life that we never thought possible. ❤

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