It’s a sickening feeling. I find myself trying to slow my breathing, as if by my slowing down I can somehow delay the inevitable. Yet the seconds continue to tick away. The sun is sinking lower and light is getting sparse. The clock is now against me. As the minutes disappear the gravity sets in. Three minutes left. Now two. This is it. As the final moments of the season expire I exhale and the new reality arrives. I am now in the gap. For me the gap is three hundred and five days long. It’s starts the moment duck season ends in January and lasts until November. When you love something as much as I love duck hunting this is a real struggle.
The gap is tough. The gap is confusing. The gap is stressful. The gap is real.
The gap between the end of one duck season and the beginning of the next is not a life-or-death situation. Many of us, however, have faced a gap in life that felt like it was. Maybe you’ve experienced the gap between paychecks. Or perhaps you’ve experienced the gap between relationships. Some of us have experienced the gap between when a promise was made and when it was fulfilled. All of us have been in the gap at some point.
The truth is that every single one of us is in a gap right now. No matter who you are, or what you are doing, whatever you’re pursuing, you are in the gap. You are somewhere between where you started and where you want to finish. Maybe you are evaluating your career and you know there’s more in you than your current employer can see, and you’re in the gap. Maybe you’ve had some relationship hiccups in the past and you just haven’t found the “one” yet and you are in the gap. Maybe you struggle looking in the mirror because who you see isn’t the person you always dreamed would be looking back and you are in the gap. Maybe this season with your kids is tougher than you were prepared for and once they are a little older things will get easier, and you’re in a gap.
The reason the gap can be so discouraging and daunting is often because we begin to believe that the way things are is the way they are always going to be. As the pressure increases in life our perspective gets narrower. It becomes harder and harder to see a future that looks any different than the chaos in our immediate surroundings.
The truth is, however, the gap between where you are and where you want to be can either be your greatest motivation or a fortified prison cell. The critical difference in these scenarios is you. So often when we are in the gap we convince ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to overcome whatever circumstances put us there to begin with. That’s simply not true. How you see your situation defines your success. You must learn how to flip the switch, shift your perspective, and realize that tomorrow will be defined by how you respond today, not by what happened yesterday.
The gap is where growth happens. The gap is where strength is built. The gap between where you are and where you want to be is where you learn from the past and prepare for the future. When you start to see the gap as a training ground it changes everything. It’s the seasons in between, when life gets tough, where we develop the muscles and skills we need to be ready for what lies ahead.
No matter your story today we are all in a gap. We are all between yesterday and tomorrow. If your gap is overwhelming, keeping you awake at night, or straining your relationships you are not alone, and there is hope. Just as there is always another duck season coming, and I’ll be back in the swamp, watching the sunrises and feeling my soul come alive, you have another season coming too. The gap is simply part of the journey from one season to the next. It doesn’t last forever. Take stock of where you’ve been and how it has prepared you for what’s next. Before you know it you will look back on your gap and see that, even though it was tough and pushed you to your limit, the person you are, because of the gap, is more equipped to conquer what is ahead.