What it’s like Living in the Gap

“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”

Nancy Levin, Life Coach & Best Selling Author

Do you ever feel like you are just living from one transition to the next?

One thing gets resolved and a new thing pops up.

Maybe it’s starting a new job, moving, graduation, retirement, having a baby, starting a new training program… the list can go on and on. Particularly during these COVID times, it seems like we transition only to transition again…

“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”

Nancy’s words help me find perspective in the midst of transition and remind me to let go instead of push. I’m a bit of a perfectionistic pusher by nature. I like to power through and get shit done. I prefer certainty and stability to almost anything unknown. After even a little bit of time in “the gap,” I am ready to get out and take action – something to distract me from discomfort.

What I have found after ten months of living in “the gap” is that transitions don’t lend themselves particularly well to pushing. And this might be by design… so that we LEARN the lessons we are here to learn. Living in the tension (“the gap”), suspended between two seemingly opposing forces or choices is really uncomfortable. I prefer to move away from uncomfortable situations even if what I am moving towards isn’t all that great… at least I am doing something!

My morning yoga practice constantly reminds me of living in the gap and breathing through discomfort. Sometimes, the class will be guided into the weirdest poses. In my head, I’m thinking, “Am I doing this right…? There’s no way this is right…” or the poses are just downright uncomfortable “Omg, we’ve been working on our quads for 50 minutes – they are screaming!”.

Even in those moments of discomfort, I can often find stillness or balance as I breathe through the tension and accept the pose for what it is. The poses are still uncomfortable and at times, seemingly filled with contradiction. “You want me to bring my wrists over my shoulders AND flex my feet down toward the earth at the same time?” And yet, when I surrender to the pose and focus on my breath, I can find some peace and stillness.

Living in the gap is like that too.

We are constantly moving from one change to another, but the more we can breathe through the discomfort, let go, and trust that this too shall pass, the more we can find joy in the midst of our circumstances.

I find myself in the “I’ll be happy when…” trap more frequently than I care to admit. But the “when” never comes. There is always something else…

Living with 30 years of chronic pain and illness was really eye opening because there wasn’t a quick fix. The only way to release the pain was to live through it. Through the pain and emotions of the past. Through the uncomfortable situations. Through limiting fears and doctor’s visits.

When we are willing to sit in the midst of the tension and uncertainty long enough, we can transform two seemingly disparate choices into a third option that we didn’t previously see. In this place, we can transform our fear and pain into our power. Instead of running away from discomfort, we can run toward it and embrace it. Get to know it and then transform it.

In this tension or active surrender, you will find possibilities that you didn’t know existed. Possibilities that you will never discover if you are too busy running towards what’s easy.

Surrender takes as long as it takes.

It’s our choice on how long that is. When we surrender, we get to move on to the next lesson and see things in a new way. Perspective becomes dynamic and ever changing – filled with subtleties we would not naturally see. This doesn’t mean that our circumstances change – just that our lives become richer in the midst of challenges.

We are born in surrender and we will die in surrender. It seems poetic, really.

In both cases, we have no say or control of how we come or how we go. God gives us breath and God takes it away. But for some reason, we seem to spend a lot of energy in the middle denying this quiet truth.

What’s the take away?

The next time you get stuck in a situation and you don’t know what to do, hang out with it. And when you get frustrated because it hasn’t been resolved yet (which you will), get to know it some more. See what it has to say. And trust that when the time is really right, you’ll find the third option – the way through the gap.

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