Welcome to the In-Between
I think I've spent the majority of my life in spaces that have felt a little in-between. Never quite arrived. Not quite what I had expected. Beautiful and messy, full of purpose and intention, and sometimes altogether a season that felt more accident than on mission, but isn't that how life is for each of us?
In my 20's, I finished up college, a unique space of "in-between" filled with deep relationships with friends and with Jesus, to run headlong into the unknown of the working professional. It came with lessons in responsibility and how to deal with conflict (like an adult). It showed me what was most important, the healing of my broken places, and it was in my 20's when I began to understand what I was created for, my purpose and mission.
I began my work as a teacher in a low-income school just south of San Francisco, my students facing many challenges from lack of English literacy in the home to parental incarceration to family addiction issues, and gang-related violence in their community. Their community became my community as I moved into a home just down the street from the school where I taught and my housemates and I began to live in this space with purpose and mission. We hosted pancake breakfasts for our neighbors, we caroled at their doors, and shared the light of smiling pumpkins in October. I worked with intention, knowing my job teaching was not just a job, but a calling. I came in early to pray over my student's desks, to meet with teachers to pray over our school leadership and students, and I stayed late to tutor my students, driving them home and spending time in countless driveways connecting with single moms or grandmothers about the adventures the day held for us in the classroom. I knew that this was what God had called me to do, and so it was a great surprise when I felt God moving me out of the community that I had called my own for many years.
It's a story for another time, but in was in my 20's when God moved me from teaching in East Palo Alto, California to teaching in Ghana, West Africa. I packed up everything I owned, took a leap of faith, and moved to a place I had never been and to partner with an organization I had known for less than a year.
It has been here, with City of Refuge Ministries, that I have seen so many stories of in-between, in my own life, and in the countless lives I have seen come through, whether rescued from the brutality of child labor trafficking, abandoned at our doorstep, or coming to work or serve as staff.
Now, living fully into my 40th year, I look back at all the places and spaces that God has brought me into and through. My own in-betweens have been countless...from singleness to marriage, from working alone to fostering to now having a family of six, from teaching full-time to training others to teach, from living in a culture that isn't my own to never quite feeling home in my own culture either, from times of wondering to times of wandering to times of pressing in. The in-betweens are what make up our lives. They are what grow us. They are what season our lives with both joy and sorrow, the both/and, the tension that we hold ourselves in.
These are my stories. These are our stories. Welcome to the in-between.