The Pain of In-betweenness


Being in-between destinations, not part really of either one, has a special pain to it. Another word for it is transition, and transitions can be of durations as short as a day to ones lasting many years. Living in the in-between space is living in the margins, hoping that somehow there is hope ahead and not the darkness of interminable waiting. Yet some of the most powerful periods of personal change for me have been when I have spent considerable time being an ‘in-betweener’.

Today in the Church calendar is called Holy Saturday, the day in-between the agonies and death of Good Friday for Jesus, and the Sunday of Resurrection and New Life. It is a day that signifies the silence of death, of going into impenetrable darkness, not knowing if there will ever be emergence again. A few years ago I finished a stretch of ten years, a decade, where in many ways I felt like I was living in the ‘in-between’. During part of this decade I was involved in studies and also taking a journey into the depths that I would probably not have chosen had I known the terrors and pain it would hold.

Even now it is hard to describe what was involved in this decade, one that at times I was not sure I would ever emerge from. And I seldom speak publicly of it. But I did emerge. And now I am so very grateful for it in so many ways. I felt like the sun was setting on my life, like darkness was becoming my closest friend, to quote the Psalmist. Holy Saturday can last a day, or ten years, or much of a lifetime. Mother Teresa shared in her intimate diaries, later published for all to read, that she went through a ‘dark night of the soul’ probably for the last forty years of her life. Yet what fruit emerged from those years of darkness!

On this day, we again commit ourselves to living in the margins, the silences, the understanding that even if we never emerge again from the tomb, we will trust. We do not fully know what Jesus felt or knew on Holy Saturday. And we do not know what is ahead in any detail or assurance. But like Jesus, we can trust. Trust in God’s purposes for us, trust that His promises will not lie, they will not fall forever into the silence of the grave.

Today may be a day of living in-between, not knowing clearly if we will ever reach a destination of life and transformation. But we can trust. During my ten years of pain and darkness, I didn’t know if I would ever emerge again, and if I did to what?

Trust today… in the silence, in the death. The sun sets today… but it rises tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “The Pain of In-betweenness

  1. I shared this on my FACEBOOK page this morning, because your words are also my words. For the very first time, I had just finished sharing my current experiences in intercession for others.

    You have a gift for writing that will help many of us. Well done, Steve !!!


    1. Eric, thanks so much for your words of encouragement. Ever since I first met you in Kathmandu, I have seen your heart of encouraging others. You have such a gift of exhortation and it has touched my life and so many others. Thanks for being such an example and model to everyone that knows you.


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