In Limbo: 5 Things to Do While You Wait and Wait... and Wait

The limbo is a dance where you keep moving under a pole to see "how low can you go?" The limbo is fun and actually good exercise, and often makes for a great party game.

This post is not about that kind of limbo.

I love to fly when I travel.  A couple of hours sitting on a plane, for me, is far more preferable to multiple hours (and days) driving.  But a couple of times I have experienced the bane of traveling by flight: the "circle the airport as we wait to land."

Is there any greater feeling of powerlessness?

Oh waiting in the airport gate area for a delayed flight stinks for sure, but you can occupy your time pretty easily, take a walk, buy an over-priced ATL t-shirt, or possibly get a different flight. 

And who likes to wait while on hold on the phone?  But you can always choose to just hangup and try your call again... or call a different office or department... or just forget the whole thing and pay the extra $20 on the bill that doesn't make any sense.

How about the Doctor's Office? You've probably had experiences like I have many times - arrive a few minutes before the appointment to sign in and do any necessary paperwork. The wait. And wait. If my appointment is at 3:00, why am I waiting until 4:30 to go in? You could (usually) choose to reschedule (or not) and leave, though... unless, after 45 minutes in the waiting room, they've moved you to the second waiting room, because now you're waiting in a small room by yourself (or with a hyper toddler), and the doctor could come in any second... for another 45 minutes.  Once you reach the second waiting room, you feel stuck. You have to stay now no matter how long it takes.

The second waiting room experience is the scenario most like the "circling the airport, waiting to land the plane" experience.  You're in a space that seems to be getting more and more confining, you really want it to be over, but it's not and it feels like it may never be. Frustration. Anger. Fear. Panic.

The real problem: you're not in control of the situation.

Been there?

Currently, I am in one of these "holding patterns." My family is in the process of moving to Natchitoches, LA, from Hot Springs, AR, to plant a new church - Awaken Church.  We're selling a house and we're buying a house.  The process has been go-stop-go-stop-wait-wait-wait for over a month. I'm ready to be in our new home in our new town. I want to be there. I need to be there.  But, we're in limbo. There's paperwork. There's inspections. There's paperwork. There's approvals.  There's paperwork. There's... well, you get the point.

Here are 5 Things I've learned to do while I wait and wait... and wait:

1) Let God lead! I've been known to try and "get out in front of God" when I have a clear vision from Him.  I want to see it become reality, because in my heart and mind it already is reality.  Jesus is the destination, and Jesus is the path.  I'm learning to trust Him to guide my shoes. Know this: He's going before you, preparing the way, so let God lead!

2) Increase prayer!  Over 18 years in full-time vocational ministry, I've battled the beast within and discovered the joy of freedom from being a work-aholic. However, when you're suddenly not doing all the things you conditioned yourself to do, it can be frustrating and even discouraging.  You may even feel like you don't know what to do with yourself. And you may entertain thoughts that others are judging you because you don't feel productive. Forget what you think others are thinking (because they're probably not anyway), and realize the best use of your time is to increase prayer. Talk to God more. This will keep your spiritual tank full, which will fuel your mental and emotional health.

3) Make great use of the time! Choose wisely, and intentionally, how you spend this time in limbo.  It is a good idea to get suggestions and advice for how to spend this time from someone you trust such as a mentor or coach, or good friend who has been there. Making great use of your time will look different for each and every one of us, but I can tell you this - time well spent is not time spent worrying! This is a season of waiting, which you can't do anything about, but you can choose how you spend the time.  Focus on your loved ones/family.  Read.  Journal the journey. Learn something new. And return to #2 above -- pray!

4) Be patient!  I heard this fantastic quote last Sunday, as I visited Encounter Church: "God does not birth a dream in you, only to let it die.  He births a dream within you to give you a glimpse into the future He has for you - so you will be patient in the process of that dream coming to life." Also, here's a Scripture that helps me: Hebrews 10:35-36, "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the reward it brings you.  Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.  Then you will receive all that He has promised."

5) Open your eyes! God is doing things all around you. Amazing things. Shiny things. God has not forgotten you!  My good friend, Linvel Arington, used to say, "God is just giving Heaven away! You just have to open your eyes, you will see it."  Open your eyes, open your heart, open your mind, and awaken to what God is doing all around you!

What do you do in times in limbo?


Q. Byrum Hurst said…
I think those are extremely inspirational word and advise that all of us should heed as we go through the circumstances of our lives. I appreciate Steve Nelson sharing those thoughts . I pray everyone can take it to heart !

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