You’ve been there, right? When those seasons of life aren’t unfolding like the story book you imagined them to be? When you find yourself thinking, aggravated at the oversight, “How did no one tell me it would be like this?” The seasons that make you feel the least equipped and the most alone, like you’re the only one who has ever experienced these moments? That’s when you need someone to sit you down at her kitchen counter, slide over a slice of cobbler fresh out of the oven and say, “Nope. Not true. I’ve been there. Here’s what I learned...” I just absolutely love this woman right here & how she connects with hearts: Callie Holland will run laps when she hears women leave the “I’m fine” at the door. She loves creating community spaces to pour into all of those coming behind us, who need to know some seasons are just really stinking hard – but you’re not the first to walk through it. Because, really, hindsight is most powerful when it’s shared. It’s a grace to welcome the brilliance of Callie to the farm’s table today…
At 5:15 a.m., four mornings a week, my alarm does its best to pull me from my REM cycle. I do the quick mental math, calculating the cost to my day if I stay under the covers five more minutes, eventually sliding out and shuffling toward the shoes and socks left by the bedroom door.
Gently closing the door behind me, I make my way down the hall to the living room, slipping on my shoes, I step onto the treadmill – rarely with excitement.
Let me be clear here – I am not a competitive runner. I’m more of the “are we done yet” variety. So when my mom called and asked if I’d celebrate the year she turned 60 by running a race with her every month – the yes was a bit shaky.
We ran half marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, an 8K (I’m still unsure how far that actually was).
Pinning our numbers to our shirts and joining the crowd at each starting line, always heading to the back so I could build some confidence passing the lady who’s knocking out a 5K for her 100th birthday – we would wait for the flare to go up.
Everyone cheered, waved – trying to distract those of use who were wondering what in the world we’d gotten ourselves into. And when the flare went up, we went forward…or tried to. Those of us in the back would start doing this weird trot in place as we all moved forward as one giant blob.
Eventually, you’d find your stride. Miles go by and the finish line would come into view. Pushing your shoulders back, lengthening your stride to look more runner-ish – you’d hear the cheers getting louder, signs waving, the clock over the finish line keeping your time as you break into a sprint. Crossing the finish line, they’d give you a banana and a cookie because if we’re going to do physical activity there needs to be some sort of reward system.
“Everyone cared how you started. And everyone cared how you finished.
But few paid attention to the space between.“
But every race was the same:
Everyone cared how you started. And everyone cared how you finished.
But few paid attention to the space between.
After the crowds thin out and the runners start separating. When you can be on a stretch of road completely alone for miles. It’s here, in that space, you become a runner. You learn how to breathe easier, you figure out how your foot needs to strike the ground, you learn how to believe your body can do what your mind is saying it can’t do.
Many of us are living in the space between.
You got in the school. You got the job. The ring. The promotion. The pant size. The house.
The child. The grandchild.
And everyone celebrated.
“The space between when you start and when you finish…This is the space for refining. Defining. Who will you be?“
Now, you’re on that long stretch of road, the one with markers like:
Can I actually do this?
Should I have made that decision?
Why is this so hard?
When will it not feel like this?
I thought this would be different.
Am I doing enough?
Am I doing too much?
The space between when you start and when you finish…
This is the space for refining. Defining.
Who will you be?
“Our lives can feel as if they’re shifting into idle, and in this space emerges idols.“
Putting in the next load of laundry.
Starting another dinner.
Turning in an assignment.
Dropping the kids off.
Our lives can feel as if they’re shifting into idle, and in this space emerge idols.
These holding patterns, the steady beat of our feet against the pavement of our everyday responsibilities…
The rhythm we’re pounding out becomes the rhythm of our hearts. And out of our hearts, our lives flow.
For longer than I care to admit, I thought of idols only in the sense of the Israelites in the Old Testament, worshiping a golden calf.
This particular calf-idol was born in the space between.
Starting Line: The Red Sea splitting.
Finish Line: The Promised Land awaiting.
But, in between the start and finish, while Moses sat on a mountain, talking with God?
The Israelites grew restless.
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” (Exodus 32:1 NLT)
The Israelites gathered their gold, melted it down and shaped a calf, declaring, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:2 NLT)
Their eyes were no longer set on the Creator.
Their future was now fueled by their creation.
“God knows what leads to sin, what us-made altars we’ll bow to. He knows which things we will attach hope, joy and peace to.”
Just twelve chapters earlier, God had said, “I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2 NLT)
God knows what leads to sin, what us-made altars we’ll bow to.
He knows which things we will attach hope, joy and peace to.
Tim Keller wrote about why the first commandment was first in his book Counterfeit Gods:
“We would not lie unless first we had made something—human approval, reputation, power over others, financial advantage—more important and valuable to our hearts than the grace and favor of God.”
Careful though, the idols we build are rarely constructed intentionally.
We aren’t thinking, “Oh, new day, new idol. What can I give the throne of my heart to today?”
“Idols grow as awareness erodes. In those steady rhythms of the in-between.”
Idols grow as awareness erodes. In those steady rhythms of the in-between.
Schedules fill, milestones marked, relationships built, professional ladders climbed – until we look up and realize these good things have become faux-holy things. Elevated and positioned in our lives to be what we look to for definition and direction.
I wish I would’ve known the ease in which we lay the foundation of our idols with good intentions, slowly adding bricks of Yes’s, mortared with appreciation and admiration.
Keller says our hearts are idol making factories. And he’s not wrong.
After a decade at a job I loved, I saw what I had created: An idol.
I lived on the fringes of God’s work, because my work came first. I was so busy becoming – I lost sight of His Kingdom coming. Putting in the extra hours, sacrificing relationships, apologizing to family for missed dinners…
“What, if removed, leaves you unsure of who you are?”
We’re doing good things, but are those good things defining things?
What, if removed, leaves you unsure of who you are?
Chances are your answer is your idol.
Slay it. Crush it. Demolish it.
Over and over – until only God alone is over all.
You started with your “Yes” to Jesus.
Now, here you are, in the space between – and you’re tired.
It’s okay to loosen your white knuckle grip on those mile markers.
Mile markers hammered into the soil of your soul based on the race someone else is running. Based on the pace this world shouts at us to maintain.
“The way you keep pace in the space between? Let nothing in between you and Him.”
Set your pace with faithfulness, run with open hands.
The One who created those hands can place in them what you really need and remove what really gives you more glory than Him.
The way you keep pace in the space between? Let nothing in between you and Him.
And we do all of this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
A few years ago, Callie Holland met a girl in the Nursing Mother’s Room at church. She was overwhelmed, exhausted and completely unsure of herself as a mother. Callie was let into a corner of this girl’s life and was able to say: We all feel that way. See, no one had told her what she was feeling was normal. No one had told her about all the women before her who had felt exactly what she was feeling. Callie couldn’t stand the thought of one more person slogging through a hard season without someone saying, “You’re not alone.”
She is passionate about creating community spaces to pour into all of those coming behind us, who need to know some seasons are just really stinking hard – but you’re not the first to walk through it. As host of the No One Told Me Podcast and The Collective, Callie has created beautiful and safe places where you can find others who have walked your path before you. Callie and her team of contributors gather and share the stories that shaped them most, in an effort to make those coming behind them feel a little less alone in whatever they’re walking through.