Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stuck in Limbo

Five years ago I was forced to drop out of nursing school when I began experiencing migraines, tingling and numbness, and difficulties with thinking and walking. After finally being hospitalized for my then-unknown illness, I also quit volunteering my time at church. I was in and out of the hospital and bouncing from doctor to doctor, knowing that something was seriously wrong, but not knowing what.

One of the worst things about that time was putting my college and career plans on hold. I am very much a type A personality, and I pride myself on making lists, making plans, and especially on accomplishing those plans. I was on a schedule: two years of pre-req's, two years of nursing school, and then I would start working as a nurse and my husband could get out of the Air Force and get a job that didn't require him to travel. I didn't understand it at the time, but God had other plans for me that didn't fit in with my schedule.

Now, suffering from a chronic illness at twenty-six while raising four small children is not a common dilemma, however I believe that anyone reading this can relate their own story of interrupted plans and rerouted personal schedules. Even worse than these unforeseen interruptions, is the period of forced inactivity that can often accompany them.

I myself was in limbo for four years. Four years of not being able to serve in my church, four years of not being able to return to school, four years of not knowing what my future held. For those of you who are a few years or more older than me, four years may not seem like much, but for a girl in her twenties, four years may as well be an eternity.

It is especially hard to be in a state of limbo in our current society. The question that never fails to come up in every new relationship is, "So, what do you do?" For many people, even saying that you are a stay-at-home mom is not a good enough reason to be out of work. For those who find motherhood a sufficient pastime, the question is, "What do you plan to do when your kids are in school?" In twenty-first century America, we are judged primarily on our contributions to society. So how do we reconcile forced periods of inactivity with the expectations that are heaped on us by our parents, siblings, spouses, and friends?

We try to be content with where God has us, because we know that He wants us to be content. But every time someone asks us "what we do" or what our plans are, we are sorely tempted to go against God's plans and try to force ourselves into an activity.

Over the first four years of my illness, I applied for two jobs and applied to two different colleges. Most of the time I managed to be content with my period of limbo, but I couldn't help hoping that my season of inactivity was about to end and I could finally get on with my life. Silly girl.

The number one point I would like to make to those of you who are in your own periods of limbo, is that even when you feel like you are doing nothing important, God is working in your life. He uses these periods of inactivity to draw us closer to Him. We, who are suddenly halted in our race from job to sporting event to social activity, are now able to focus more of our energy on the most important thing...developing a personal relationship with God.

So if you are sick, out of work, or alone after a broken relationship, don't waste your spare time complaining about what you have lost. Instead, dust off your Bible, build some calluses on your knees, and allow God to work in your heart.

My second point is this: Yes, you may be in a period of limbo right now, but it's not going to last forever. Someday, weeks, months, or even years from now, God will let you move on to what He has planned for you. Whether it be a new job, a new relationship, or a new ministry, if you wait on God's timing, you will find that His plans are well worth the wait.

One year ago, after having spent four years in limbo, God finally allowed me to move on. I began singing on the worship team at our church, which maybe I'm not very good at, but I absolutely love. I also received the spiritual go-ahead to return to school, although this time I am not studying to be nurse. Instead I am studying creative writing and theology, a combination that I believe God plans to use to reach out to His people in the form of Christian literature.

God's plans have become my plans, and I couldn't be happier. God has given me a love for writing and teaching His word, and I am thankful for the changes that my period of limbo has wrought in my life. My relationship with God is now so strong that I believe it is unbreakable, I love that I get to sing in church, and I love writing.

If you are still in limbo, as I know some of you are, take heart. God is working in your life, even now, and He has plans for your future that you cannot even imagine.


  1. God never stops - even when we do. I'm so glad He's God! :)

  2. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you..." This is often a time of resting in Him, as well as an opportunity to draw closer to Him.