WAITING brings the Harvest...I hate it, but it's true.
I love the Pennsylvania roads in Chester County. They wind through the countryside along fields and streams. In the fall the goldenrod and aster blaze. If I type in a destination on my GPS I will likely choose the circuitous way, the round-about route that takes more time but fills me up.
But let’s be honest, the long roads of life are a different story.
I don’t like those.
-The time it takes to heal
-The personal development of patience
-The Holy Spirit's ongoing work of humility
-Working through complicated conflict
-Waiting for the doctor to call back
-The wrenching long-haul of joblessness
-The daily struggle of grief
It is painful to feel out of control, yet real-life circumstances rarely fall under the category of “quick-fix.”
I have a friend who has been searching faithfully for employment for over a year. One more rejection, 6 applications with no response, and hundreds of tweaks to the resumé and cover letter. Morning brings another day of full-time searching and discouragement. Anxiety mounts.
In the last year, three dear friends have broken their wrists, my mom had a hip replacement, and another friend has a pinched nerve leaving her confined to a couch canceling everything. Regaining strength to walk, painful mornings, and “you’ll be doing great in no time” has left each of them wondering just how long the process of recovery will take.
In my coaching work, I hear many stories: families suffering the complexities of a child with mental illness, individuals facing singleness that leave them feeling alone, or marriages with ongoing complicated misunderstandings. Not to mention infertility, unemployment, shattered dreams, grief, and chronic pain.
Unresolved heartache sticks its hook in all of us.
Being in the process is not easy.
What do we do when we can’t fix our problem, or make something happen when we want it to? What do we do in that waiting, liminal time? When we were young we thought those in-between times were rare and short.
“After I graduate, it won’t take me long to find a job, I am in a niche degree program."
“I’m sure I’ll be married in my 20’s and settle down in a cute house.”
“We’ll just get off birth control and start our family.”
“This job isn’t a fit, I can find another one.”
“I have good genes, my grandmother lived till she was 101.”
“We had another fight but the tension will resolve, we are both just tired; missing each other is a normal part of marriage.”
Sure, we understood life would include problems. But we assumed every problem would have a solution. That’s the American expectation. At least we imagined as much. I have thought about this a lot lately as my husband and I moved north to return to my hometown and get a fresh start. It’s easy to imagine:
“It will be challenging but the adjustment won’t take too long.”
“We’ll find a church and immediately have an authentic community of people we can hang out with every weekend.”
And here we are, almost two years later slugging along with no community, attending a church where we are not known, and the same insecurities popping up that we dragged across the state line.
As I have reflected on the biblical narratives, a different lesson surfaces. What if process IS the main thing?
Changes will unsettle the sturdy ground we stood on, and with that, those false securities we put our trust in. In this season of transition, I have felt both uneasy and thankful at the same time. From the time I was young, I had an aversion to change. As a result, I tried to push into it. It wasn’t easy! However, the greater fear was to end up paralyzed, unable to handle life. In other words, I didn’t want new situations to always feel horrifying. None of us wants to need control so much that we end up fragile and edgy.
Unsolvable scenarios, circumstances we can’t rush through, hardships we can’t skip over—these are the places God surprises us with needed resilience and surrender. Loosening our grip, building our trust, and revealing HIS nature to us while manifesting Himself in us is the necessary work. Personal development happens in the waiting.
I wish we as Christians were more willing to sit in the middle of the complexity, valuing what God is doing while also having permission to hate the whole thing. As a Christian Life Coach and counselor, I find one of my primary jobs is helping women embrace places of unknown and waiting. And, most importantly, to give themselves grace when they are mad. Weary. Losing hope.
“Yes, you can hate it and value it at the same time,” I tell them.
Consider such a silly example with me: does your child learn character development more from a trip to Disney (and there is nothing wrong with Disney!) or working through a conflict with a friend? The struggles we face will mature us and grow our attachment to the Lord. But it is ok to never want these challenges in our lives. Evidence of faith is not being superhuman.
What we need, desperately, is to embrace the process. These ongoing, unresolved times do NOT mean we are stuck, they mean we are being changed. It is here that we (or those we love) mature.
Maturity, my friends, is no guarantee. A life stuck in adolescence is worse than the pain of the process!
Like the rain, these times come and go. The landscape of our lives needs it. In the meantime, we can cry out with David, “How long, O Lord.” And likewise, we can proclaim, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13).
As my dear friend who has been looking for a job said to me, “I have no choice but to trust him. “
A Practical Word:
When you are in a season of waiting make a habit of sitting still each morning. Simply be quiet in the Lord's presence and repeat a phrase that anchors you ("Lord, you have me." "Lord, you see me." "I am not stuck, you, O' Lord, are at work." "Lord, you are my sure foundation.")
In a journal, write out your honest prayers before Him. Do not shut off the raw emotion, for that is where we find Him. Invite Him into the place you feel afraid.