September 3, 2013 by Kara Nichols
According to Dante’s Inferno, Limbo is the first circle of Hell. I definitely feel as though I’ve visited there for most of the last four years. When the life I had planned didn’t pan out I was terrified. Well, as terrified as one can be when on a large amount of psychiatric medications that numb everything. Essentially I gave in to the anxiety and depression with a few attempts at setting myself free into a new life here in Virginia.
I’m already afraid that I will look back on this time in 15 years and wonder why I didn’t do more besides sit in a chair and rehash the past or worry about the future. Don’t get me wrong, I have volunteered, been published in a book, and spent great times with family and a few close friends. But there is a big chunk of me that has seemed to have gone missing. My creativity is blocked, my sense of humor dulled, I’ve become more and more isolated. I’ve given up on many dreams, my willingness to try new things has disappeared and to be absolutely candid: I am fearful.
Will I ever get out of this limbo? When I get feedback from people close to me, they comment on how good I am doing. And it’s true: I am at my healthiest both mentally and physically when compared to the last five years. I still feel that I have no meaning in this life. I just exist. Oh trust me, I want to have meaning. And it’s not like I haven’t been looking for it. I guess I just have to trust that God has put me in this season of life on purpose; that it’s no accident who I am and what I’m facing. Maybe I needed this much time to heal and to move on. Perhaps He wants me to depend on Him instead of whatever “meaning” I can conjure up in my free time.
Out of all the definitions for limbo, I’m choosing the most positive. Which is: an intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place. I know God has not forgotten me. He knows my heart and my desires. I choose to believe that I’m here for a reason. That I am worth something, even now. Even though I don’t have a job or a husband or a skinny body. Those are the main things I fret about. How quickly I forgot how God has provided for me with a family that has stood by me on my darkest days. How easy it is to get lost in the idea of marriage when the truth is I’m content being single, that a job or a great body won’t fix what’s wrong inside of me. So I’m in this transitional state. But I’ve made it a hell instead.
Still, I find myself asking God, “What’s next? Sign me up! I’m ready! I’m looking!” And it just occurred to me that what has been missing is a closeness with God. I haven’t been praying or reading the Bible. How does something that one day feels like joy can feel like a chore the next? I know the way back to Him but I’ve been choosing to go it alone. Which is probably why I feel like I’m in limbo, as in the first circle of hell.
I could spend the rest of my life in this limbo, trying to grasp perfection or even just feeling like a “normal” person. Or what? Accept where I’m at and trust God? It seems so simple and yet I’ve felt tortured for a long time. Do I really believe that God has my back or is that just something I say for others to hear? I guess what it’s coming down to for me is that what I’ve been missing is not a perfect job, a perfect mate, or the perfect body. What I’ve been missing is Jesus.
At this point I think I need to ask Him to give me the desire to spend time with Him. Isn’t that horrid? It’s the truth. My own desire just isn’t there and it’s not enough to sustain me anyway. I need a supernatural intervention. I need my best friend forever: Jesus. Because without Him my life is in limbo – the hell kind of limbo. It’s no surprise that I can’t manage on my own. I was created to be in a love relationship with Jesus, not lost in limbo.
Maybe my search for meaning in life can be called off. Maybe it’s through Jesus that I find meaning. Maybe I’ve been treading water long enough and it’s time to rest in His arms. Because deep down I want to believe that He will keep me afloat. Can I stop striving? It’s definitely an urge I have to fight. I want to direct my own life. I want to make everything feel pretty and right when really I’ve been rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.
God has provided for me in amazing ways the last 4 years. He recaptured my heart after years of me dabbling in other religions. He has given me a roof over my head, food on the table, a blanket to keep warm, a family that cares, money to pay the bills. I think in 15 years I want to remember those things instead of all of the futile worrying about the past and future I’ve done. I’ve been self-obsssesed instead of relying on God. What a an awful, sinking feeling.
Thankfully I serve a gracious God who loves to love me without condition. He promises to help me out of this limbo. Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”
It will be hard to not lean on my own understanding, but God’s help I know it’s possible.