Transitions and Tight Spaces

Hallways. Bridges. Pass-throughs. Elevators and escalators. Narrow straits that connect two larger bodies of water. What do these all have in common? They are stretches of tight spaces – some longer than others – that take us from where we have been to where we are going. And I have learned that every major transition in life includes one of these tight spaces.

Tight spaces feel confining. They’re uncomfortable. But – they are temporary. And this is what we often forget. God gives us a promise that something new is coming, and we get so excited of where we are going. But we often fail to realize that the journey to “there” includes a pass-through “here”. And if we don’t recognize that those tight spaces are part of the process, we’ll lose our joy, we’ll start to think we missed a turn somewhere, we’ll start to doubt the word we got from God, we’ll get frustrated and disappointed, and we can even lose sight of where we are going as we start to fidget, kick and scream.

Because tight spaces are uncomfortable.

It is instinctive for us to resist them. No one likes to be trapped in them for too long. But if we can become aware that they are just pass-throughs, and that they are serving a unique purpose, we’ll have eyes to see and ears to hear what God may be trying to do in us before He takes us where we are going.

Have you ever felt like you’re in a tight space in life? Something about where you are feels restrictive and confining? It feels like you’re not moving backward, but you’re not moving forward either. You may be wide awake, fully alive…but you’re just…in pause mode. I want to encourage you – don’t fidget. Don’t kick and scream. Don’t resist it. Don’t try and shortcut why God may have you there. Because even if you don’t immediately see it, there is something powerful taking place in these narrow straits of life.

As you know, I recently moved to North Carolina. And aside taking our family of four, packing everything up, and going to a city where we know no one, starting new jobs, putting the kids in new schoools, and all the adjustments in moving from something familiar to something completely new – that hasn’t been the hardest part, honestly. That part’s been somewhat adventurous. But the biggest adjustment? The most difficult one yet? Going from living in a house – that we custom built, where we had plenty of space – and had lived in for almost 14 years – to living in a small apartment, climbing three flights of stairs daily, and having about 3/4 of our lives packed away in boxes and stored about 5 miles down the road.

This has been my tight space for the last 8 weeks. And you know what? It’s been uncomfortable. It’s cramped. I have felt restless. And in all honesty, for about the first three weeks, I completely hated it. Until I prayed and asked God to show me what I was missing. And I began to realize that this was much more than just a temporary living arrangement. This tight space was serving a very unique purpose – on the inside of me and for our family. And once I realized that, a spirit of gratitude rose up within me and I have come to appreciate what is taking place in this tight space.

So what can God use these spaces for? Think about it this way: A cast on a broken arm. A caterpillar in a chrysalis. Grape juice being stored in a barrel to make wine. Something is either being made straight or being transformed. In other words….

Tight spaces are all about alignment and/or transformation.

There’s a beautiful passage in the book of Hebrews, which I just noticed today has this headline above it: Renew Your Spiritual Vitality. The verses that follow read this:

“Therefore strengthen the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” 

God’s not going to take us somewhere without preparing us for where we are going. And many times, let’s just be honest, we need some adjustments before we get there. Tight spaces have a way of forcing out whatever doesn’t need to be there. They have a way of purging us from things we don’t need to be taking into our future. And they have a way of straightening what we may not have even realized had become a little out of whack.

What’s the best thing we can do when we find ourselves in these tight spaces? Call on the Lord. Psalm 118:5 says, “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.” That word distress translated actually means something tight. It refers to a narrow passage. And “a broad place” refers to enlargement. A wide and roomy place. What this is telling us is that when we find ourselves in these tight spaces, if we will turn our attention towards God and call on Him, He will show us what He is doing and the quicker we can get insight on that, the quicker we can cooperate with what He wants to do in us.

If like me, you happen to find yourself in a tight space right now, here are a few of other things I’ve learned that have helped me:

1.) Tight spaces can feel lonely. Think about it – not a lot of people can fit in a hallway or an elevator together. So be selective about who you allow in your inner circle during these times. But remember, some things in life, it’s just going to be you and God.

2.) Don’t rush it. Our self-control muscle is getting really strong during this time if we can learn to not try and shortcut or get ahead of the process. It’s only for a season. Your Spring or Autumn is right around the corner.

3.) Keep an open hand. Let go of whatever you need to let go of. God is doing a new thing and not everything can go with you into your future. This can include material things, certain mindsets, old habits, and even some likes and dislikes. Don’t be surprised if your desires start to change. He’s most likely acclimating you for where you are going.

I fully recognize that we may not all be going through some tight spaces right now. But for those of you who are, or who know someone who may be, I hope this helps. As the song says, all of our lives, in every season, He is still God. And we have a reason to sing. We have a reason to worship. And if something – anything – is causing us to lose our song, we are just one prayer away from gaining the revelation that will bring our breakthrough. So here’s to enjoying every season. Thanks for reading.

-Linda G. Riddle