I’m Thankful for the Time in Between… by @MandyVasek
I have been thinking about this post for a while now but not sure how to write it. However, today I heard a song that inspired me… So here goes…
Situations in life can make us or break us. There are times when the situations neither make us nor break us. We are simply left dangling trying to figure out why we did not succeed nor get broken. That dangling time or “time in between” is one of life’s most frustrating tools. I’d much rather have an exact answer as to how a situation will turn out, even if it is not a positive one. So…how do you deal with the uncertainty during these times? It does not take much in this crazy world to rob you of your peace while waiting. For me, so much can be stolen during this time. Through personal experiences, I’ve lost time, relationships, money, health, focus, and happiness. I dwelled so much on the possible negatives leading to the finality of a situation that I lost what the “time in between” experience could have taught me. I have lost too much and care too deeply to let that cycle continue over and over….
So, what do we do to ensure the “time in between” establishes what it should? I learned the answer to this question from a very dear friend and cohort member, Kim Hornsby. Kim and I, along with another dear friend of mine, Mandy Wells (yes, same first name) became fast friends when we shared a hotel room for a week in Austin, Texas. This was the beginning of a new chapter in our lives- an EdD program through the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Last summer we attended a weeklong institute focused on state trends in education. We had no idea that week would be the beginning of a unique relationship and a transformational process for all three of us. Before that week, we had no idea about each other at all. Within a few minutes in our hotel room together, we could tell we were brought together by fate. That fate changed me for the rest of my life.
That first day in June was also the one-year anniversary of Kim’s husband’s death. A gunman killed Bobby Hornsby, 32 years old, during a SWAT team mission in Killeen, Texas. Bobby was a respected member of the Killeen Police Department. During that week, we each shared stories and events in our lives, including deaths, divorces, and past failures. We cried, laughed, and stayed up 24/7 as if we were teens once again. All three of us were changed that week for the better. For me, it was a life-changing experience because of Kim Hornsby, who taught me the true meaning of two, small words- choose and joy. We have a choice to choose how we react to all circumstances. We either choose to let situations define us by holding on to the “hopelessness” or we can hold on to the “joy” we find. I reflected on that week for a very long time afterward. I finally understood that happiness is dependent on things in this life. However, joy is something we can choose, even when the outcomes of situations are desperate and dark. Joy is not dependent on anything, but a choice I make daily. Wonderful journeys can be created when I choose joy instead of despair or pity. Many times on the journey, we run into the “WHY” we are left to experience the “time in between” or the “brokenness” in the first place.
My answer to the “in between times” is to #choosejoy while waiting. It is not easy! It’s so easy to just find pity or beg others to join you in the darkness. By choosing joy, the journey, no matter where it leads, is often decorated with the most beautiful memories, rich learning experiences, and wonderful revelations. Maybe you would have never received these awesome consequences if the situation had granted you instant success or if you decided to make the “time in between” a negative situation. I truly believe this because I’ve learned the hard way.
Today, over a year later, I still watch Kim’s walk as I spend time with her in our doctoral program. I know that her laughter and smile are not brought about by happiness. The pain of Bobby’s death is still raw and saddens her greatly, especially when she looks into the faces of her little boy and little girl. I know her laughter and sparkling personality come from something much deeper- JOY. She found the answer, and she shared it with me.
Choosing joy in your life can be applicable to any and all situations that life throws at you. For example, I have to choose joy no matter what I am doing. I am just as vulnerable, maybe even more so, in my profession as a school administrator. In fact, I have #ChooseJoy posters everywhere to remind me not to rely on circumstances to make me feel joyful. I measure my worth and value as a leader many times by the way I feel emotionally. When I choose joy, I instantly feel empowered. No matter what, I must make it a priority to choose joy and keep it. The best part is that joy only costs me the effort that I make in choosing it.
Last year, the school where I am an administrator, adopted #choosejoy as our motto for encouragement. I shared Kim’s story with our staff during a beginning of the year meeting when some unexpected changes occurred. It was the best message ever! Our school community began using the phrase with and around each other. What could have been a crazy situation turned out to be a time we were blessed as a school.
When I see the words together, my heart is immediately changed. I am amazed! Now, I can be thankful for the “time in between” and look forward to the journey and adventures it may bring. Although I pray this never happens, I know that with the choice of joy, I can survive the unimaginable events life throws at us like Kim Hornsby and her children. I will never let the phrase go. It’s embedded in my heart and a part of who I am. That’s not to say that I don’t need a reminder every now and then because I truly do.
I dedicate this post to three people who have touched me in such a way that my life has been transformed for the better. To Mandy Wells, who encourages me to do more all the time. She sternly tells me that I do have what it takes to make something happen. She helps me overcome those feelings of discouragement and defeat. She is my reminder to choose joy, even if she does not use those words. To my precious friend, Kimberly Hornsby… though you may be tiny and young, you are a fierce force. You have given so many people a purpose through your transparent testimony. You helped me get so much of my own life back. Thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart. To my friend, who I will not name at this time…. thanks for reminding me there are always ponies and for teaching me about #juxtaposition. You have intrigued me with life itself and all it has to offer. You challenge my thinking in ways I never thought possible. You believe in me without question. You have also made me realize that the “in between time” is a space in the middle of two things where amazing (or phenomenal as we’d say) things can happen. I love you all!