Hell in the Hallway

Recently, I prayed for a man who lost his job last winter and has been searching for another job since. It isn’t for lack of effort that he hasn’t found work yet. It seems his field is a competitive one and for whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to secure a new position.

My heart ached for him. I could feel the frustration in his voice. This in-between place he’s in is what I heard a man once refer to as the “hell in the hallway.” When God closes one door and while you’re waiting to find the next open door, you experience hell in the hallway.

hallway hell

The “hallway” is a vulnerable place. The enemy preys on our weaknesses, on our self-doubts, on our disappointments, and especially on our fears. Even if the door that closed brings with it a sense of relief, until the next door opens, we’re left scrambling, scraping, and trying to force our way into other doors whether they’re meant for us or not.

It turns out we’re not so great at waiting.

I really sympathized with the man I prayed for. I’ve been in-between jobs before. It’s sickening when you don’t know how you’re going to pay your bills or to think about being the new guy or new gal on the block, learning new ropes, etc.

We’ve experienced our own hell in the hallway in this home search and struggling in apartment life. Selling our house was a blessing (no matter how many times we doubted it afterward) and was absolutely the right thing to do. But the nearly 30 months in the apartment since? Weyelllllll…..

Don’t get me wrong. We’re thankful. For the shelter, for the comforts, for the amenities, for all those things. But it hasn’t been easy. Some of the things we’ve heard, seen, experienced – because we share a building with 500 of our closest strangers – are absolutely reprehensible.

We could sit and compare our “hallways” all day long. No, living in an apartment is nothing like burying a child. Being unemployed is nothing like being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Just because our hallways are different from the hallways of others, or different at varying stages of our lives, doesn’t make them any less difficult to navigate.

When things don’t go according to (our) plan, we’re thrown for a loop. Our brain can’t reconcile why something that should have produced a certain result went haywire. This chaos and irreconciliation in our minds can create anxiety, disappointment, angst, confusion, and a host of other uncomfortable feelings and emotions. Whether it’s “as bad” as something else we’ve gone through previously, or as something someone else is currently experiencing, doesn’t matter. Our brain is still responding in similar ways.

When we try to compare and negate what we’re going through because it isn’t as bad as someone else’s journey, we do ourselves a tremendous disservice. We stuff away the issue and our correlating feelings about it and tend to avoid dealing with it altogether. This isn’t healthy or productive.

As a bereaved mother, I struggled with this mightily after Harlynn died. I remember so many times during those earlier days of my grief journey when people would express disappointment or sorrow over something that was so trivial to me, and I would question how they could even dare to complain when I had just buried my daughter.

But as a friend told me once, “a broken leg still hurts.” I might be in a body cast, and my neighbor may have “only” broken their leg. But a broken leg still hurts. That has always stayed with me.

I’m using a lot of words to express a simple point (a trait Hubs points out to me quite often). When your door closes and you’re fumbling and stumbling around, it’s okay to admit you’re walking through your hell in the hallway.

If you’re sharing life with someone who is walking through their hellish hallway, don’t be afraid to stand with them until their next door opens. It’s a scary, uncertain place, only made scarier and more uncertain when faced alone.

I’m continuing to pray my friend finds work ten minutes ago and can get on with his next opportunity, stepping into his own promised land with regard to his job.

And I’m praying for you, especially if you’re walking through your hell in the hallway. Don’t give up hope. He’ll show you the way, so long as you continue looking for it.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

~ Psalm 119:105

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