This week I hit another milestone; after weeks of work my house was ready for market.
The sign was placed in the yard on Wednesday evening and the reality of leaving this home hit hard with a mix of emotions; proud and gratified with how much I had accomplished; sad that the neutralized-house-that-doesn’t-look-like-mine is becoming a memory of one more thing I’ll be losing with this divorce.
After the past year, you’d think I’d be used to having a mix of emotions, changing like a mood ring going from sunshine to overcast skies. It helps me to go back in my personal history to see if I’ve ever experienced the same things. Before, I’d return to my journal entries but now I look back at my blog posts.
The last time I felt such uncertainty, was three-years- ago when I was transitioning from full-time work as a school nurse to retirement. I re-read those posts about that change as I entered a new chapter of my life. Even the title, “Afraid of the Next Chapter” tells me there are similarities.
In describing that time, I wrote:
It was awkward, like I wasn’t sure where I was stepping and while people told me about their experiences of retirement, I knew it was different for each person. I had to go it alone. While most of me was tired and ready for my new life, part of me was scared, afraid of the next chapter.
I’ve had those same feelings during the past year of marital separation. The folks who’ve been most helpful are those who’ve experienced the turmoil of divorce. But even with the similarities, divorce is different for each person, and in that way there’s the experience of “having to go it alone.”
In that post about retirement, I recalled what I learned about helping clients with transitions in my Life Coaching program. From my textbook, I looked at one model we’d studied that used a Map for Change by Bill Bridges. According to Linda Bark, the author of our text and creator of our program, Bridges model for change breaks the process into three phases: Endings, The Gap, and New Beginnings.
I’ve experienced a lot of endings over the past year, mostly focused on my marriage and all that you become accustomed to as a wife of over forty years. These represent small and large losses. They are the stuff of therapy sessions and two-hour talks with close friends. Since March we’ve all added the loss of life as we knew it with the COVID-19 shelter-in-place and the changes we’ll face in the future. On April 30th, I added the loss of my mother. All of these are different kinds of grief that require time and energy to work through.
But now as I go forward with selling our house and moving to a new home, I’m approaching the uncertainty of a new community and getting closer to my new life after divorce. While I’ve had definite struggles with clear losses, now I’m approaching the less clear path of transition that is The Gap.
When I finished my work as a school nurse and was facing the uncertainty of my next chapter, I had little experiences with ‘gap’ periods in my life; I seemed to have gone from one structure to the next, one position to another over the years of my career.
The middle of the change process described by Bridges, seemed to be the most difficult for me to approach. This is what I wrote in the post when I applied that model to retirement:
The Gap phase can be muddy, trying to make your way in foreign waters without that old familiar course you followed on autopilot. It’s a time when you “sit with things” instead of rushing on to fix the uncertainty about the new chapter you’re entering.
How many times have I tried to ‘fix the uncertainty’? I think about this now in terms of my Christian faith and once again, a familiar scripture comes to mind:
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you Hope and a Future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
I think about how we’re exhorted to live into the mystery of God, knowing that we follow by faith and not by sight. We’re encouraged to look at the examples of God’s faithfulness in those who’ve gone before us.
Perhaps to “sit with things” in The Gap instead of rushing to fix the uncertainty is to sit with the promise of God that our plan will unfold in God’s timing. The middle is about waiting until that plan takes shape–forming from out of the muddy foreign waters.
How About You?
What area of your life may be described as being in The Gap?
How can you allow yourself to relax in the uncertainty and wait on God’s timing for your course to unfold?
11 thoughts on “Trusting God in The Gap”
I am so glad that you are “working on getting on”. I guess that the way we look at life keeps you in the constant state of sections. This morning I watched the docking of the “Crew Dragon” to the ISS. As the narrative progressed I observed the countless number of people that it took to just do this act of docking and at one point there was a time for the craft to make its own decisions. Trying to compare life to life endeavors may be equal to being a Creator. I find that trying not to segment my life into stages allows with living with changing conditions to meet the requirements. As you have found there is no better answer that to take each experience with you and use it later when needed. Best to you, Love and understanding.
Thanks so much for reading and for your ongoing encouragement. I guess the advantage of growing older is we have more of those life experiences to draw from.
Best to you,
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You are welcome and right.
I hate THE GAP, it’s so hard to wait. And yet, some of the most amazing things have happened after I disciplined myself to wait, to do the hard work of reflecting and starting anew. It’s hard. It’s tedious at times. It’s necessary. Love to you. ❤️
Thanks for your HONEST comments about The Gap! It helps to feel validated by someone else who sees how difficult it is to wait. I appreciate your reminder that amazing things happened after you disciplined yourself to wait. It does take discipline because we’d all like to receive gratification more quickly.
Yes, it is tedious. I’ll remember your wise words as I ‘sit with’ this time and let it unfold–only doing what I need to but letting go of the rest.
Love and light to you, too!
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Thank you for sharing Connie and I will be praying for you. One day at a time x
Thanks so much for reading and for your support. I really need it now and it helps to know I have so many people encouraging me.
Best to you, Julia,
Dear Connie – my heart is with you ase you make this move and you experience this transition. May GOD bless your beautiful, caring and humble heart! One of my favorite quotes is “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (from Psalm 37)
Your words are very encouraging as I read them this Monday morning. “Shining like the dawn” is a beautiful image and I can benefit from that light. Wishing you the best in whatever challenges life is presenting to you at this time.
Love to you,
I think many of us get impatient (or fearful) at a transition between “now and next.” Most want to rush it – I’ve learned to quieten myself and experience the transition.
Mom always said “growth never comes without growing pains” and now, as an adult, I totally get it!
These steps are necessary ~ moving through them, feeling and accepting the loss of your old life will allow acceptance and healing and readiness for “the next.” Please keep us posted as it all unfolds, we’ll be here.
Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your experiences of transitions. I like your Mom’s, “Growth never comes without Growing Pains.” I do feel growth during this time and it has come out of pain. You’re right that you have to allow yourself to feel all that comes with the loss you’ve experienced. To avoid it is to have it show up later.
Thanks for your support, MJ. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Best to you!