In the sixties, my parents would have cookouts on our patio with after dinner “make your own entertainment”. Included in the line-up, my father playing his guitar (ala the Kingston Trio) the older kids spinning hula hoops and everyone trying to do the new dance/ game called the Limbo.
The Limbo worked like this. Two volunteers would hold either side of a bar about three feet long, at about waist’s height. While the Caribbean music played, each Limbo participant would bend their body backwards, scooting their legs and bent torso under the bar. Guests would line up to go under the bar and after each turn, the bar went lower. If a player touched the bar with their shoulders or chest, they were disqualified.
Now Limbo, as a game is great fun. It breaks the ice and has people cheering on their fellow party guests. Unfortunately, limbo in life isn’t much of a party game. When we can’t sell our house, find a job or move from the place we live, that limbo frustration seeps in.
Bitterness often follows frustration. We ask: why didn’t we sell our house sooner? Why did we put so much money into remodeling the kitchen? Why did my company downsize just when I started? And the universal question: “What happened to my 401K? These questions are asked by many constantly as our country slogs through this recession.
Life Limbo, as painful as it seems, allows us to see the important things in life. Just like Limbo song asks the player, “How low can you go?” we want to scream, “No lower!” But soon standing mid-thigh in life’s crises we realize we can bend more than we dreamed. In Limbo-Land we learn to flex our rigid spending habits and see we don’t break. We can be happy with less money or a smaller house. We discover how a marriage can weather the unemployment storm with the relationship still intact. Resilience, an underrated quality can take a person a long way in life.
I, as a practicing Christian (and I do mean I’m still practicing) have gone through two years of the Limbo Dance. Due to several job changes we’ve had a bit of a nomadic life. After going through the gauntlet of anger, depression, self introspection and apathy, I’ve finally come out from under the limbo pole. I figure God will give us his game plan for the next few steps as soon as I stop fussing and realize He is raising and lowering the bar. I’d love to keep the bar high so I don’t strain while going underneath. But He knows I can bend and become a more flexible disciple for His kingdom. A life of ease isn’t the name of the game when you sign your life over to Him. A life of meaning is. When we sign up to be disciples of Jesus, we sign on to make our life count for something dearer than comfort.
My challenge for myself and my readers (whether we are changing zip codes or not) is to recognize the temporariness of tribulations. Be of good cheer: the Limbo Dance won’t last forever and we can come out the other end a different person, more usable and flexible for Jesus!