During the seven year battle with my daughter’s cancer, we were constantly confronted with what I call “in the meantime living.” We went from doctor’s appointments to scans and back to doctor’s appointments in non-stop fashion. We did not know when or how the journey would end, but we knew we had to go on living in the meantime. Those years taught us so many lessons, one of which was how to live in the meantime, when life felt like it was on hold, and yet we needed to press on anyway.
So much of life is lived in the meantime, waiting for lesser circumstances to pass, in anticipation of some event or season in the future. We may be waiting for a diagnosis or dealing with ongoing treatments hoping they will heal us. It may be living with a frustrating job that shows no signs of changing. We may be looking for a job or waiting for the kids to get older so we can pursue a calling. We may be lonely, hoping to meet the right person. Life may just be drab and colorless, and we don’t even know what we are waiting for. Waiting is a perpetual, inevitable part of every day.
The question arises, “how do we best live in the meantime, while waiting for circumstances to change or define themselves?” Here are a few mindset alterations:
- We will always be living in the meantime in some area of our life– So many times I have put life on hold until some situation changed, only to find out that another situation arose that left me waiting again. Now, I realize that it is an illusion to ever think that life will be without waiting. Once I accept that fact, then I can get on with playing the cards that are dealt me now. What a shame if we allow hard circumstances to prevent us from finding joy in the midst of those circumstances!
- We live with excellence in the present – Too many people are fair-weather operators. When the situation is rosy, they are happy and work hard. When all is not perfect, performance falls dramatically. Choosing excellence when life is really hard is a function of character. The person of character does their best whether or not the best is being done to them. This also requires a choice to stay in the present, with all its shortcomings, rather than dream in the future and lose the precious present.
- We adopt an attitude of gratitude, even when circumstances are less than ideal – Even in the hardest of life’s dealings, there is so much to be grateful for. I will never forget how my daughter, Perrin, was always full of gratitude and joy in the midst of the hardest days of her struggle and suffering with cancer. She showed me that joy and gratitude are always possible.
- We do the next right thing– There are always places in our lives to do the next right thing. We may feel stuck in the mud, but if we think hard, the next right thing will present itself. Day after day of simply doing the next right thing allows us to move forward despite the realities of life in the meantime.
- We resist anxiety and choose hope– Choosing hope is not the same as positive thinking. We choose hope precisely because we can’t predict the future. Even when the future is uncertain or even bleak, living in the present and choosing hope for the future makes the best of the meantime.
Where are you living in the meantime? How might you embrace the meantime regardless of the challenges you face? Every day is a gift. With the right perspective, we might find unexpected joy today, in the meantime.