The Anxiety of Living in Limbo
2020 has been a year of waiting.
I know everyone reading this can relate in their own ways.
When COVID first hit in the Philippines, I spent months wondering if I would be allowed to leave the country and visit my family for the summer, or if I wouldn't see them again until the next year.
Then when I was miraculously able to come back to the U.S., I spent all of my time over the summer waiting to hear news about if the travel ban would be lifted in time for me to be back in the Philippines before the school year started.
Each day I waited, hoped, and prayed I would learn some new information. Then I started the school year online from the U.S., switching my timezone so that I could stay awake to teach during the nights.
August went by, then September, and at the end of the October I received news that the Philippines was reopening to people who had my type of visa. There was only one problem--my visa expired while I have been here in the U.S. However, with some special paperwork from the Filipino government and then sending my passport to the nearest Filipino Consulate, I would be able to begin my process of going back to the Philippines.
With this news, I immediately told my boyfriend I would be in the Philippines to see him by Christmas. We started making plans and for the first time in 7 months we had something to look forward to. I can't even describe how that felt--my heart leapt out of my chest and for awhile I let myself be happy, or at least partially.
My boyfriend, who is the sweetest man in the world, invited me and my roommate, who would be returning to the Philippines together, to spend the holidays with him and his family. He even started preparing their guest room already because he couldn't contain his excitement.
I was expecting this magical paperwork that would solve everything to come weeks ago, with the hope of flying back to the Philippines next weekend after Thanksgiving. I'm even having a Christmas-giving with my family because we didn't expect that I'd be here for Christmas.
Well, Thanksgiving is less than a week away and I still don't have the paperwork, so that plan will not be happening.
"Just don't get your hopes up too high about Christmas, okay? Because I still don't know anything," I quietly told my boyfriend over the phone one night. And he cried. We both hurt.
This week while talking to my therapist, I admitted in frustration, "I'm just tired of waiting. It's been half a year of waiting to know when I'll go back."
"It's like in Job," he said. "He lost everything and waited for a long time."
I admitted that I had been thinking about Job lately and although I haven't lost everything, I can definitely relate to him on some level.
My life, like countless other people's, had been turned completely upside down:
- I work during the night and rarely see the sun
- I see my students and coworkers through the computer screen
- I get to see actual humans (my family) for a couple hours each day
- I'm struggling with anxiety, depression, nightmares, and panic attacks
- Most of my belongings I left in my home in the Philippines
- I have a boyfriend I love very much and haven't seen in over 8 months
When it comes to the future, there is no planning, just trying to hold on a bit longer in this limbo while I wait for good news.
I have never felt so helpless, so out of control, so anxious.
I can't even plan what I'm doing next month because I don't know if I'll still be here.
So, many times I think about this--my future that seems non-existent and my old life that I loved so much. And how much Job suffered.
But then if you think about that, you have to finish the story:
The Lord Restores Job's Fortunes
10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil[b] that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money[c] and a ring of gold.
12 And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.
The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.
As much as I am filled with anxiety on the daily, deep within me is the hope and trust that my god is in control and that this is not forever. This too shall pass.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
My spirits may be low, but I continue to pray each day for good news, because God will bring it, but I am learning that it's in His timing, and not my own.
Until that day comes, you will find me facing each day the best I can while trying to heal and rely on God in the process.