Today I turned 32 and one of my first thoughts was, “I don’t know what this age means.” Sixteen meant freedom because I can drive. Eighteen meant possibilities because I entered college. Twenty-one meant responsibilities because I was legally a full-pledged adult. With every age since then, I’ve had an idea of what that age meant: what I was growing up from and into, what I was letting go and looking forward to, what the next steps were. Life didn’t pass by like consistently spaced out railroad tracks. There were curveballs for sure, but at least I had some inkling of how to answer, “What now?”
Thirty-two feels like the moment after the dust clears. The hurdles had been jumped. The triumphs were celebrated. The bleachers cleared and the last popcorn kernel swept away. The fat lady finished singing and the marquee lights had been turned off. It’s the moment between the last sigh of relief and the first intake of anticipation.
Thirty-two feels like the in-between, and maybe that’s why I wrote on my Winter Goals list, “Celebrate my 32nd birthday.” Because things in the in-between are easily lost or overlooked, but they’re the things that build character.
The peaks and the valleys – the hurdles we have to jump and the triumphs we celebrate – test our character. They figure out if we have resolve in the face of trial and grace in victory. The in-between – the inclines or the declines – build us. Can we continue climbing no matter how steep the path becomes? Can we control our descent so we don’t blindly fall and crack our heads open?
I didn’t want to miss that. I wanted to acknowledge the in-between and sit in them for a while. Instead of rushing to tackle the next challenge or party up the next triumph, I wanted to allow the in-between to do what must be done because I figured that’s the Holy Spirit’s holy work.
It’s like the time between the first raindrop fell on the ark and the last water receded to reveal dry land.
It’s like the time between Israel’s exodus from Egypt to their entrance to the Promised Land.
It’s like the time between Malachi and Matthew.
It’s like the time between 12-year-old Jesus and 30-year-old Jesus.
It’s like the time between Jesus’ ascension to heaven and the Holy Spirit’s appearance on Pentecost.
The in-between may seem uneventful, but God’s still doing something in us, through us, for us. So let’s not rush through it. Let’s sit and marinate for a while because the in-between moments are life-changing moments, too.