On Liminal Spaces

David Liminal Spaces.jpeg

It’s been quite a few months.

2019 started for me with a race through January to get work and family life in order so we could spend 2.5 weeks in Florida, just in time to escape some of the coldest temps we’ve seen in the upper Midwest in years.

Florida was a dream, a gift beyond our wildest imaginations. I had never been, save for a layover in the Miami airport on my way to Haiti, and Wendy hadn’t been since childhood, so we didn’t really know what to expect. The birds, the plant life, the food, the SUNSHINE, the beach, the water - it’s safe to say our minds were blown with the goodness of it all. 

We rested, we played, we truly had a vacation for the first time in what seemed like years. There’s a BIG difference between time-off from work, and truly settling into the rest and delight of a vacation. With one five-day, and then another 10-day stay, we truly rested.

Don’t get me wrong - we had our meltdowns (I wish I could say it was just the kids, but guilty as charged), we had our rainy days, and missed toll booths, but over all, it was such a sweet time away with our young-but-getting-older family.

We came back in mid-February to Winter. 

It was terrible.

It’s May 20th (three months later), and it’s still only 48 degrees outside right now. Winter is over for sure, but the last three months of my life have felt overwhelming. They have felt like too much.

I spent the second half of February getting reacquainted with work, and getting ready for a Sabbath retreat that we ran through Markey Church, which was great. I got to hang out with some great friends, and spend some time in a beautiful place, eat good food, and connect with God + others. 

March was devoted to church + family life, along with a bear of a grant proposal (more on that another time), and applying to and getting accepted to a Doctor of Ministry program at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI (more on that later too).

April was the Easter season - kinda crazy for this pastor - along with Ordination work. 

May is always a blur with Mother’s Day, two family birthdays, and our wedding anniversary.

Things have felt full. Not emotionally overwhelming, not burn-out level tired, but full. Really, too full.

Also, I’ve felt pregnant with what comes next. I don’t really know what this means, but I’ve felt a rumbling within my spirit around such things as writing, teaching, coaching, consulting, and generally being available to the Church as a pastor who helps other pastors and churches birth the new things that God has planted within them. I suppose I’m naming a pastoral midwifery practice that focuses on organizational leadership and faithful missiology. 

It’s no surprise then that my d.min cohort is centered on mission and leadership, and that my writing interests tend to revolve around pastoral resiliency + sustainability, or what I call “leading change without losing your soul.”

So I’m beginning. What exactly I’m beginning I do not know. But sometimes, one has to make the way by walking it.

I’m putting one foot forward, taking risks, being vulnerable (oh so vulnerable) and asking Spirit to meet me in this place with good work, fellow travelers, and situations where I can be helpful.

I’ll be 38 in a couple months, and I’m beginning to make plans for what I want my life to be and look like when I’m 40.

I don’t yet know what all this means, but I’m ok at the moment with the unknowing.

I’m in what my friend Tom calls a Liminal Space. That place where one is already-but-not-yet.  I’m leaning into my desire, which I believe is a gift from God, and doing the things that will help me travel further down this road, while also becoming more and more rooted and planted where I am. My 20-year-old-self would be dropping one thing, and replacing it with another. The 37-year-old-me has matured enough to know that I can both be faithful with what God has given me, and look toward what God is inviting me into next.

I think that’s what we’re all asked to do. Faithfulness with what is, hope for what is to come. It’s really painful that way, but it’s the best way (I think).

Here’s what I know for sure: I lead scrappy, loving church as best I can who is full of good and kind people, I’m married to a woman who is grace-beyond-grace-beyond-grace, and I’m the father of two beautiful boys who I love being in their lives as Daddy. 

I’m incredibly lucky to have all these gifts in my life. Gifts I do not deserve, but that I get to enjoy everyday. I take them all for granted too often, but I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m softening into the person God has been inviting me to be for some time now. 

It’s painful to become the person God invites us to become. We never fully arrive. We don’t get to control the timeline, or outcomes, or really much at all. But the invitation to pursue our own heath, wholeness, and transformation is always present, always persistent, always there.

I hope I can continue to learn to pay attention to the invitation, and say yes to the Spirit who is doing the inviting. I hope I can.

I hope that for you too, whoever you are, reading these words. Please know, I’m grateful for you too.