The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins
We often spend inordinate amounts of time waiting for the next big thing to happen in our lives, waiting for spectacular to show up and in many cases he does not. Author Jeff Goins points us out of that old conundrum that would posit meaning only as it places us in momentous occasions and events. In his new book, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing, Jeff embraces the tension between what was once an exciting ride through life and the reality that life is different now, reality is much more about waiting than it is about anything. Jeff writes in the Introduction, “We all want to live meaningful lives full of experiences we can be proud of. We all want a great story to tell our grandchildren. But many of us fail to recognize that the best moments are the ones happening right now” (17). The feeling of adventure, the comic-book quality of life that exudes from the big screen is not the ordinary lives for most of us, rather, the mundane activities of work, parenting, bills, and relationships displays our existence. Yet, these activities and relationships all involve waiting. Waiting in line for a driver’s license, a cup of coffee, or at a grocery store can rile our patience. After spending some time in Spain seeking the thrill of nightlife in Seville and cross-cultural relationships, Jeff writes, “Life’s mundane moments – ordinary times of TV-watching and breakfast-eating – can be embrace as a slow, deliberate, beautiful way of life if we pay attention and see what’s really there” (39). Jeff finally realized that time with Loli, the one who housed him in Spain, was more important than an extravagant story in Seville.
With eight chapters, an introduction and conclusion, The In-Between runs through parenthood, marriage, and school with brevity and rare insight. The overall abiding theme is that waiting, the time in-between the next big thing is often the greatest opportunity to experience the best of life, including the growth of our faith and strengthening of our relationships. After touring with a band that eventually made it to Billings late into the night, the members of the band were invited to the church to partake of some donated food and to come back in the morning for some morning worship. Jeff writes, “These were simple people who wore flannel shirts and closed their shops before six o’clock on weeknights. They didn’t follow the latest trends in music or read cutting-edge literature on the relevance of rock bands in churches. But they knew how to love people” (73). Whether it’s Loli, Ashley, or parishioner s in Billings, Jeff began to realize that what was right in front of him was more powerful and lasting than any ecstatic or marvelous experience out on the streets. It wasn’t an event but people who made life full of love and meaning. This kind of waiting for the right moment or story to go back and tell your friends blinds us to the beauty of others right in front of others, even when they are screaming for our attention. This truth connects to our faith as well, with so many Christians looking for the next big mission trip or conference to produce a spiritual experience, thereby missing the constant strength of our relationships with our brothers and sister in Christ in our own locale.
Thanks to Christian Audio also for the audio version of this book. The audiobook was beautifully read by Jeff, not often do we get the very author’s voice reading his own work. The pace with which Jeff read his book was beneficial for me, considering that sometimes a faster pace leaves me in the dust. Overall, I was very pleased that the very point of the book to slow down and resonate with the time in-between was applied by the very author who read the book. I would even recommend that by listening to this book you will be able to digest its contents even better.
My only criticism is that I wonder how this point of reveling in the in-between and learning to wait applies to the church and the Christian faith in a more concrete manner. The stories were definitely a help in seeing how we might look at life differently but I wonder what could be said of the church also.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews, Moody Collective, and Christian Audio for the paper and audio copy of this book in exchange for review.