brief intermission

I would say that I grew up rather uncultured when it comes to attending on-stage events like plays or productions. Now, before you start assuming I’m just a country bumpkin who thought a trip to the movies or the mall on Saturday was a big deal … well, never mind. You’d be assuming right.

To be clear, I’m not mad about it. But the idea of an intermission would have been relatively foreign. Instead, I knew all about the pause button. For the kids these days, pause is like what you do now when you need a break during a tv show. Back then, it only applied to VHS or cassette tapes. And if it was in the context of watching a movie on VHS, you had to be swift because there was no telling if that pause button would be overcome by evil spirits and rebel. And then it became about rewind and hoping and praying you could find your spot. Man, those times were tough.

Fast forward to the present, though, and I think we can all say finding our spot is a little challenging.

I was walking one day a week or so ago and saw one of the sweetest classic theatres around and its marquee held up black lettering reading, ‘WE WILL BE BACK AFTER THIS BRIEF INTERMISSION.’

And it got me thinking.

While possibly a bit foreign, I’m not completely unaware of what an intermission is like. The very simple definition of an intermission is ‘a pause or break.’ A pause. And doesn’t this season we’re in just feel like someone pressed the proverbial pause button? And I’d also argue that because someone else’s finger did the doing that we literally have no control over when activity will resume.

And that’s incredibly difficult for some of us.

As I was thinking, I realized that I’m not typically for an intermission. Maybe it’s the rebel in me, but if I’m at a movie (or any other more fancy theatrical thing), I’ll get up when I want to. My bladder is the size of a peanut so if there was an unspoken rule I’d need to wait for intermission, I can guarantee you that wouldn’t matter. And I’d prepare in advance and have drinks and snacks purchased pre-show. And no, Connor, you can’t have more! I also just don’t love crowds so when everyone and their date rises to rush concessions or the restroom, you can count me out.

But the fact remains, we are on a break (Ross and Rachel anybody?). We’re in a state of brief intermission.

So what is brief? We don’t know. And that’s hard. School has been shut down. Spring sports are just, not. Employers have labeled employees and services as essential (or otherwise). And can I just state for the record for those who are not considered essential? You are. You so are. Don’t take it personally. Hair salons and tattoo parlors are closed. And my biggest first world problem? Coffee shops are drive-thru only. I really, really miss working and sipping on my coffee. Mostly, the people-watching. But just that sweet space I could hold for hours away from the couch. Bliss.

I’m here to offer up some perspective though, if you’ll humor me. It’s as much for me as it is for anyone else but that’s why this is my blog. And we all have that beautiful thing called choice. Anyway, while we don’t know what brief is, I can attest that we’ve been told this life is but a vapor so while some days can feel like years right now? This life truly is brief. So there’s that.

But there’s also the pause; the intermission. And because I’ve been in a bit of an intermission for much longer than this stupid virus has imposed, I am coming from a place of empathy. I promise.

While life feels so very different right now, I see some light and some hope. Here are a few examples:

  • For the first time in my lifetime, I see the real heroes finally (FINALLY) being celebrated. I work for a healthcare organization. I can’t even begin to tell you how inspired I’ve been by the stories I’ve read of those on the front lines, all the way from patient access folks to the CEO of Spectrum Health. Employees in all roles have risen to the occasion of supporting our community in any way necessary. And I just have to say it’s about freaking time we’re acknowledging these people instead of those who normally occupy the limelight.
  • Families are together. This can be good and bad, amiright? Many of us are not accustomed to being home this much nor are we familiar with how to step in as educators. And while we might not do either well? This is actually a gift. For many of us, this will be the first time we can be a part of our child/ren’s days from start to finish and while it’s safe to say we are going to annoy the crap out of each other at times, this is time we would never have gotten. And because of that whole vapor thing, it’s nothing short of priceless.
  • We’re realizing the gift of connection. I need to be honest that I’ve distanced myself from people for a number of reasons. But can say this: this intermission and social distancing thing makes me miss relationship and closeness. Closeness probably most of all. Every time I’m at the store or out walking and I see the distancing in practice, I get emotional. It makes me so, so sad to see people almost afraid (?) of other people. We were made to connect and while we have to be in this place, we can maybe find ways to appreciate the connections we can make a bit more. We can appreciate technology that makes it possible for us to talk and learn from each other in different ways. I was gifted with a Skype call earlier this week with two of my favorite humans on the planet and it was so life-giving. For sure, we wouldn’t have done that otherwise and I’m thankful for the opportunity in this unknown.
  • We’re forced to find ways to entertain ourselves in new ways. The pace of life is now completely upended for most of us. We were gearing up for travel (bye, spring break 2020. wah. wah.), spring plays, spring sports, summer camps, etc. and now? Well, now, we might have time to take up a new hobby or immerse ourselves in an old one. And that’s kind of fun, right? I know I’ve been in a season of intense studying and that’s coming to a close so now I have some things I want to get better at and it makes me kind of excited that I don’t have to navigate around all of the other things to work those in.
  • Many of us will be able to find ways to save. I know not driving to Grand Rapids is saving me both mentally and financially. I’m only buying the essentials when it comes to groceries because like I said, I can’t much handle being out with people who veer as far away as possible when they see me. I’m not buying as much coffee because drive-thru just isn’t as cool. And I can’t get that tattoo I was hoping for. But Lindsey, I promise, we will asap!

Geez, that was a lot. I’m (not) sorry for that but the other quick thing I want to mention during this intermission that I’ve now just hopped on stage for is that I think there is a comparable season for us to consider as we enter into Holy Week.

I’m considering the notion that maybe this entire life is actually just an intermission … the break in the action between when Jesus is going to come back to restore what was lost all the way back in the garden … the Eden one.

We sometimes call it the messy middle. I’ve heard it likened to the space between the two gardens. But suffice it to say, this life isn’t even what we were made for! And that totally makes sense to me. We weren’t made for the pause button … at least not forever. We were made to seek something more.

We were made to be reconciled back to a God who aches with us as we ache over what we thought was our normal. And truly, I believe it’s okay to grieve some of what we’ve had to let go of in this space. But, surely, normal and home are found on that day when we come face to face with Him. When the intermission ends and the activity resumes, we can choose to come into the final act fully refreshed and ready to spend an eternity with the only One who can make sense of this messy middle. And while we are here, we can make the most of what we’ve been given (see above).

In the end, it’s just Him. And I think in the space of this brief intermission, He wants to show us that. He wants to show us the value of relationship despite distance. Truly, we were made to find rest, to restore our likely weary souls, to find our way back to our people to show them what His love looks like as it lives in us and to create out of the passions He gave us.

Thanks for humoring me. And thanks for allowing me in for just a hot second. And if you ever need to blow off some steam about how ridiculously frustrating the middle can be, I’m here for it. Because while I know it’s easy, in the moment, to offer perspective, this is likely one of the most difficult seasons we’ve ever had to face. And no one should feel like they don’t have a safe space. So just know that there is one right here.

Have faith, hold on to hope and be love. Just. be. love.

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