Have you ever heard of the term liminal space? It’s a psychological term describing the in-between, intermediate, or transitional state where you cannot go back to the past, but have yet to arrive where you are meant to be. This transitional period is often filled with a sense of ambiguity, disorientation, or uneasiness as you feel you might not be proceeding correctly. Essentially, you are trapped in a hallway. One end being the past you lost, or left, and the other being the future that has yet to become available.
What a frustrating place to be.
When we find ourselves in a liminal space it can be one of the most painful times of our life. Maybe you lost a job and are waiting for something new to arrive. Maybe it’s a relationship that fell through and you are wondering what’s next. Or maybe it’s a leap of faith to follow what God is calling you to do, and you don’t see the other side. Either way, we as Christians go through this more often than we would like.
In this time of transition, it is very natural to let fear of the unknown creep in. We begin to question God and His plan, the purpose of our life, or how we even got here in the first place. When we let our minds drift into this state, we allow anxiety, frustration, and anger to control our emotions. We get consumed with our situation and become unable to look at the overall story playing out before us. However, when we trust God through our pain, stumbling blocks become stepping stones of growth.
It’s easy for us, as Christians, to reminisce on scripture to help us get through challenging times. Sometimes this seems overwhelming, as we don’t know where to start reading. While I always encourage you to read the Bible, don’t be discouraged if it seems too difficult. Start with a few verses you already know, and build on that throughout this time. You don’t have to read for a long time, just focus on the words being said, and let God speak to you through them.
One passage on this situation comes from Philippians 4:6-7:
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
The author of Philippians is Paul and he writes this book while in prison. It is crazy to think a man in prison, who could die, is simply telling others not to worry. We use this passage to help others going through anxiety, to calm them down, but we forget what Paul had to go through to have that revelation.
Take a look at what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:2-3:
2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling.
Paul is explaining his first experience of going to the church of Corinth. He went to preach to the people about Jesus, and he was nervous! While he focuses on God to get him through it, we can only imagine how Paul would have felt on his first journey to Corinth. Let us not forget Paul in his past life persecuted Christians. Now he is ministering to them! Paul was in a liminal space of his own. He couldn’t go back to his past, nor did he want to; but his new life was just beginning and there was so much unknown. This season in Paul’s life must not be ignored. What Paul realized is putting his trust in Jesus far outweighs the insecurities of not knowing what is next. Even though Paul was in his weakness, he still trusted God.
Before Paul could preach to not be worried about anything, he had to learn how to put all of his trust in God. His weakness was an opportunity for growth in his relationship with God. His ability to put all of his confidence in God and not worry about anything comes through his life endeavors and struggles. It is easy to quote Paul in Philippians, and just as easy to ignore Paul’s struggle in Corinth.
Maybe today you are facing anxiety because you don’t know what’s next. You are living in a liminal space wishing you could either go back to your past or go to the future. But sadly, you can’t access either, yet. If that is you, let me offer you some hope. In this time, you have the opportunity to reflect and grow. Learn to be patient in the Lord and know He has not forgotten about you. Life’s most defining moments are usually painful ones. Look at Paul and what he did. Even though he was stuck in a liminal space for a short period, he reflected on God and trusted He would get him through it. We do the same because the same God that was there for Paul is the same God who is here for us.
Liminal spaces are not amusing at all. But they are there for a reason. Our faith and character are developed in the face of adversity. So, can you trust God today? Even though you are stuck, do you still believe that God is in control? If so, use this time to refocus and grow in your relationship with God.