Liminal: In between. On the threshold. Transitional. Like this ridiculously pink, perfect Colorado sunset.
Much of my life has been spent in a liminal state. In high school, I was transitioning to college. In college, I was transitioning to the professional world. Now, working a four-month season as a server in rural Colorado, I am getting ready to transition into a grad student in the fall.
I want to be a novelist, educator, and mother. I have always wanted these things, and I know that’s because the Lord designed me with those desires in my heart. And because my goals have always been clear, I have consistently struggled with the frustration of knowing my calling and purpose, but being unable to live them out right now because I’m busy gaining the necessary education and life experience.
I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling. In the routine and occasional mundanity of class and work and other responsibilities, it can be easy to feel purposeless, like the stage of life that we desperately desire is perpetually on the horizon, just one semester or degree or major event away. When we feel like we are always living in the in-between, it’s easy to lose passion and believe that the tasks and choices of our day-to-day lives don’t matter yet. That they won’t matter until we achieve our major goals.
That’s a lie. What. You. Do. Matters. Not just in the big, impressive moments of your life when you finally reach those goals, but here. Right now. In the transition. Even if school or a temporary job is not what you want to be doing right now, these things do not have to feel like wastes of time and effort. They do not have to feel frustrating and worthless. They can be sources of joy and gratitude as well as opportunities to love those around us. Why? Because this is what we are called to in Christ: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-4 NIV).
It is the Lord Christ we are serving. Which means that however we are spending our days, we can spend them for the glory of God. You can wait tables for the glory of God. You can go to class for the glory of God. You can change diapers, do laundry, work an office job, cook, clean, and commute to work for the glory of God.
In Christ, nothing is wasted. Though sunsets are brief, we know instinctively that they are more than just empty transitions between day and night. Humans have always stopped to gape at sunsets because they are times of glorious, intentional beauty.
Recently, the Lord has been teaching me to see the transition times of my life not just as the default gaps between one season and another, but as seasons that He has placed in my life with all the glory and intentionality of this pinkalicious sunset. If, like me, you have struggled to see the beauty of those liminal seasons in your life, here are two practices that have helped me:
1. Prayer. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing.” One way I practice a life of “unceasing prayer” is by stopping to offer this small prayer throughout the day, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing: “Jesus, I acknowledge your presence. I submit ____ to you, and I accept your will for it.”
This prayer is a way to remain aware of the Lord’s sovereignty during situations when I am nervous, afraid, or helpless. “I submit this presentation to you.” “I submit this awkward conversation to you.”
But it can also be a means of continually thanking God for the blessings He leaves throughout the day. “I offer the joy of this workout to you.” “I offer this sweet friendship to you.” “I offer the beauty of this rainy day to you.”
The Lord is already present with you, but acknowledging that fact brings purpose, gratitude, and joy. It allows us to listen for His guiding voice throughout the day as we go out into the world and interact with others.
2. Give. As the fellowship of believers in Acts 2 demonstrate, much of the joy and satisfaction of working is being able to provide for those who are experiencing need.
When I moved out to Colorado, I began to pray about my giving. Since I would not be tithing at my home church during this time, I wanted to be intentional about continuing the practice of giving back to the Lord.
During that time, I was also praying about being a globally-minded Christian. Although I felt called to continue pursuing my education, I felt a specific conviction to intentionally support brothers and sisters in Christ in the global mission field.
About a month ago, I was inspired by Identify’s “One Day” program. Identify is a missions organization based in Guatemala City. This is how their One Day program works: You figure out what you make during one day in a month. You commit to donating that amount to Identify missions once a month. Later this year, you stay at the Identify Mission House in Guatemala City for free and spend four days personally interacting with the community you have been prayerfully and financially supporting.
I love this commitment for several reasons. First, it’s flexible. The amount I make each month is not going to stay the same, so the amount I give isn’t going to, either.
Second, I trust the organization. Because I participated in one of their missions and have had many conversations with the founder and director, Kristi Carr, I know that Identify is a Christ-glorifying organization doing ethical, truly helpful work in the world.
Finally, it gives me passion. Once a month, I intentionally choose a day of work to dedicate not just to the glory of God, but specifically to the preaching and living out of the Good News around the world. In addition to the continual purpose Christ gives to my work, I am filled with the joy of knowing that, although I am not bodily present in the non-USA mission field, my day of waiting tables can be a direct act of love to a person in a different country.
If there’s something in your heart that longs for your daily labor, no matter what kind, to translate into a personal act of love for someone else, I hope you’ll consider making a “One Day” commitment to Identify or another worthy organization. If you are interested in giving and/or traveling with Identify specifically, please feel free to message me for info! I just wanted to share about them in particular because I love them and the work they do.
My friends, no joy, pain, or labor is wasted for those of us who are in Christ. I pray that if you are struggling right now to feel purposeful in your time of transition, every single sunset would remind you of the beauty, purpose, and intentionality of this liminal season. May you wake up tomorrow knowing that your upcoming day matters. Grace and peace!