A Prayer for the Hallway – Faith in the in-between

 

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By: Jana Greene

Lots of people say that starting a thing is the hardest part, but I beg to differ. To me, the hardest part is when you’ve done all the things to put yourself on the right track, but it seems forces are conspiring against you.

Paranoid? Maybe. True? Certainly.

When you’ve changed your lifestyle to a healthy one, but have hardly lost an ounce over the course of weeks. I don’t know about you, but it was my intention to have a window opened to me when I said goodbye to pleasures like sugar and carbs. When I’m stuck in limbo, my Inner Jana really just wants to say, “Well, screw it! I tried! Back to the Haagen Dazs!”

And in matters much more important…

When you’ve chosen to step out in faith but doors are not exactly opening up to you.

When you are expecting God to part the Red Sea but He isn’t making a way for you like you’d trusted. He is doing it some other way – even though you clearly instructed Him to please come through.

Getting started isn’t always the hardest thing. Sometimes the hardest thing is to KEEP going.

Here’s another thing a lot of people say:

“When God closes a door, he opens a window.” To which I’d like to add – “but it’s HELL in the hallway!”

The hallway is the perfect place for giver-uppers to give up; trust me, I know.

In the hallway, the light is often busted. You cannot see a way out, no matter where you turn. Where’s that window again, God?

In the hallway, our hearts hurt. It’s a lonely, unforgiving place. It can easily feel like no one even knows you’re missing.

In the hallway, you feel vulnerable, like Eve when she discovered she was naked. Just you and your Maker in this strange place of neither here-nor-there.

It seems like the long hallway will never end at times. You walk and walk, and the hall just stretches ahead like a mirage. I mean, sometimes it REALLY just goes on and on.

The hallway seems like a TERRIBLE place to rest! Right beyond a locked door and with no other exits clearly marked. But “rest” is what we are supposed to do in the damn Hallway, I think.

The hallway can be a purgatory-esque place of extreme anxiety building and extreme faith building, in that order.

Here’s the thing about hallways, though. They always lead to somewhere.

Some of the longest, darkest hallways I’ve had to camp in on have been great places to wait it out and wait on God. Not COMFORTABLE places, mind you. But pretty good incubators for learning to truly trust, even when you cannot imagine what the future holds.

When I went through a divorce in the early 2000’s, I experienced a stint in one of the loneliest hallways of all time. Formerly a mom who worked from home, I had to go out and get four part-time jobs to care and feed for my kids. We had nobody else. For a period of a couple of years, I stayed in “fight or flight” mode, to the extent that I’m pretty sure I crashed my spiritual hard drive. I had shut a door that badly needed shutting, only to find that my circumstances got more difficult before they got any better (and they did.)

When I quit drinking, deciding to quit was not the hardest part. The hardest part was on Day 11 and 105 – random times when I’m just minding my own sober business and the shit hits the fan and I’m caught unaware by the drama. The only thing that got me through sober was the faith result of spending untold time in the hallway.

And now, with my janky health problems and chronic “I’m not sure what I want to do when I grow up” (I’m nearly 50…) state, I find myself in yet another corridor, waiting for God to open my window and trusting that when He does, it won’t be on the 21st floor.

I’m preaching to myself as well as anyone else! I’m struggling, ya’ll. That’s why I’m writing about this phenomenon, hoping to pull myself AND you up with the hope that God is indeed working on things, even when nothing changes on the surface.

Had I not sat in that lonely place of in-between for so long, I wouldn’t have known how to survive life on life’s terms. The Hallway isn’t really a Hell, but a changing room.

A portal to accepting GRACE.

I will keep pressing through the hallway if you will!

Until we come out the other side, please join me in this prayer. ❤

Dear Papa God,

I feel like I’m in between. In between things and people and places. I’m ready for the glorious answers to prayer, but I know that you ONLY have my best interest at heart and have wonderful things stored up for me just beyond the open window. Thank you for changing things in your perfect time, instead of my time – which is seen through such a limited scope. Help us to be patient in the hallways, when we feel lonely, lost, scared, or anxious. Thanks for camping out in the hallways WITH us. What a wonderful thing for a Father to do. Holy Spirit, instill in me the faith to keep on keepin’ on, every day, with assurance that YOU are faithful.

Amen.

 

The DMV, God and Me (When Waiting Sucks)

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By: Jana Greene

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind. – Isaiah 40:29 (MSG)

If my life had an allegorical venue right now, it would be the DMV office.

Nobody there seemed to care about rules. The last time I went, there were children running all over, people playing games on their cellphones with the volume up, others having boisterous telephone conversations (mostly about making gravy,) and – I swear this is true – eating the Kentucky Fried Chicken they’d brought in.

It’s chaos in the lobby.  And not even the controlled kind. Much like the circumstances in my life right now.

When I go to pick my cattle-tag “next in line” numbered ticket, the printer is jammed. I go ask a worker about it, but she tells me to sit down and wait for my ticket to be called.

“But….”

“Go sit DOWN please.”

There are four DMV agents on duty and about 40 people waiting. Some of them are moving so slowly, I think they might be walking backwards. One of them finally comes to my aid and tinkers with the machine. When I go up to accept the ticket she pulled, I can feel the eyeballs of the other people waiting bore through my skull. I know what they’re thinking, because I’m thinking it too.

CAN’T WE JUST GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD ALREADY?

License renewal is such a PAIN.

See, I know how to drive a car, but the state thinks it’s a good idea to make me come back every 10 years or so and prove that I still remember.

But then I pick up the leaflet about road signs that I am about to be quizzed on, my confidence deflates. They’ve come up with some new ones, folks! We didn’t have those when I learned to drive, back is the Jurassic period. New directional signs, because the dozens we already had weren’t enough to heed.

When my number got called, I hopped up like Charlie when he found the Golden Ticket to the Chocolate Factory, and hustled up to the agent available.

And there I stood with nary an acknowledgement from her that I was there.

A good three minutes I stood there, then six more minutes. Finally she looks up and asked me with cold, dead eyes how I can be helped.

Now at this point I’m feeling super awkward and cannot remember what to do with my face. Smile? Furrow the brow?

Then she rushes  (dawdles) through the tests and I’m seated for the dreaded license photo that inevitably makes me look akin to Winston Churchill.

And then it was done…..my license was renewed.

I’d only been at the DMV for 2 1/2 hours, though it seemed so much longer. It always seems so much longer when you are going through something.

It was not the Department of Motor Vehicles fantasy experience I’d hoped for (haha) But it made me think about waiting in a new way.

I know this is a strange analogy. But in this season of my life, I do feel like I’m at the spiritual Department of Motor Vehicles.

I wrangle with outside forces just to find my place in line.

(Do I belong in this line or that?  What am I supposed to be doing, God?)

Wait.

In life, struggling minutes become hours, and while there is activity all around me, none of it is about solving my problem.  It’s just noise.

(Lord, I feel like maybe I can be still and know, well…YOU are YOU, if I were in a little less chaotic atmosphere….)

Wait again.

I’ve studied the  roadside pamphlet of life, and realized that I don’t know everything. Or even many things. So I try to cram as much of the apparent hieroglyphs into my sad, tired brain.

(Delve into the Bible, eeny-meeny-miny-mo style. Lord I know you are trying to tell me something! I’ll just flip through your Word until a page gets stuck on my hangnail, and that will be the magical verse that gets me through this season in life.)

Wait some more.

A renewal can mean being called in to prove that I  still know what I’ve known all my life. God is never content with His children just eeking by.  He loves me too much for that. He loves you too much for that. He knows our potential and wants great things for us.

(Why am I feeling like I’m being taken back to the basics in my faith?)

Just wait a bit longer, He says.

I’m too tired to learn new things Lord. I thought we had a pretty good thing going already. What’s up with all this drama? It’s like eerything is happening right now, and NOTHING is happening right now.

(I need to know you are with me in the midst of all of this.)

Wait upon me, child.

But this WAITING, oh Lord. Oy vey, the WAITING! I’ve discovered that what I hate most about waiting is that it gives me too much time to run through a thousand scenarios in my mind, nearly all of which are doomsday in nature. I suppose that’s where ‘lean not on your understanding’ becomes applicable.

God’s timing is perfect – the machine is not jammed. (Sometimes I shake it and yell at it just to be sure…)

Spirit renewal can be a little painful on occasion, but we always have the full attention of Jesus.

And you don’t have even have to wait for that ❤

Prayer

Father God, Make me more aware of your directional signs and give me the guidance to follow them. I’m so fidgety right now. As you  know, waiting is not my strong suit. You know how badly I just want to get this SHOW ON THE ROAD already, but I trust that your plans are exceedingly and abundantly superior to mine. Please just sit in the lobby with me, holding my hand. I do so love you, Jesus.