“What are you waiting for?”
This is a fairly popular question that is asked in many different ways. The concept of waiting isn’t something many people like, or want, to do and I can certainly understand why. I live in a country where society and culture constantly tells me, “You shouldn’t wait for your future. Only you can make it happen” and that “waiting is obsolete” so I should “just do it” (I see you, Nike reference). On the positive side, you can understand these phrases as meaning to not be let life happen to you but instead to grab a hold of life and “seize the day” if you will. We as a society don’t like to put off what can be done today so that we can achieve our goals sooner. America is a country of movers and shakers not willing to rest when change can be made. This idea of being a “go-getter” is what our country deems as very valuable and a good quality to have as a person. I myself am innovative, a risk taker, and leader in life so these phrases have admittedly had some influence on me. When I see a need I can meet, I want to do all I can to meet it. If I want to make a change, I’m going to take the steps necessary to make change happen. Having these and similar qualities, in my opinion, are a blessing to have! Be thankful and have some courage in knowing that taking initiative and being intentional is a good thing. However, with these phrases come negative aspects that some people tend to gloss over.
These ideas of not waiting and taking control to make things happen can imply impatience, never being satisfied with your current situation and always being reliant on instant gratification. For some people, they feel that the end goal is more important than the journey and lessons you learn along the way to get there. These are not concepts I want to live by. As a lover and follower of Jesus, my very identity is rooted in not having control over my life. I can understand how foreign or even absurd this can sound. Here is what I mean by this: I have control over my actions, the things that I say, and the people I choose to surround myself with for community. I have free will; I am able to make choices every day that can either hurt or help people. I have control over my thoughts and the energy I put off that either tells people “don’t come, you’re not welcome” or “I love you, you are always welcome at my table”. These are aspects of my life and experience I have control over because I am, well, human with a uniqueness that is special to me that no one can deny. What I do not have control over, however, is time. I cannot make something happen faster or slower than is already happening. I can’t control other people (though we all sometimes wish we could); I am not meant to control people’s lives because that infringes on their free will. Finally, I don’t control the ultimate will for my life.
I know that last part is a bit unnerving but fear not, I’ll unpack that for you. In the Bible when Jesus tells his followers how to pray (also commonly known as the “Lord’s prayer”), there is a line inside that goes like this: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). “Thy will be done” is referring to the belief that God is in control and that we as Christ followers need not worry about the future because He already has a plan! We don’t have to constantly be thinking about what could happen because in everything, His will shall be done. That is such a blessing! I need not have anxiety or worry about anything because God is always in control and even when bad things happen, He will turn it around for His glory. Come on somebody, can I get an amen?! Y’all, God is so good, even though He created us, gave us life, and gave His Son as the ultimate act of love for us, He gave us the choice of whether to return His love or not. He will always love you whether you don’t believe it at all or you’ve known it your whole life! I am sure when I say, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
So what does all that have to do with waiting, you ask? Because God is in control, He knows what’s best for my heart and sometimes, instant gratification just won’t cut it. Sometimes waiting is what’s best for me to do. A common misconception about “wait” and “patient” are that they mean the same thing: to delay having/experiencing something. That’s not the case. According to Merriam-Webster (the dictionary of my college experience), to “wait” is defined “to stay in place in anticipation of; to remain stationary in readiness or expectation; to be ready and available”. Patient is defined “able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people; bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint”. In simple terms, “wait” is what you do and “patient” is how you act. I cannot tell you how important it is to know that, not just as a Christian but as a person in life! There will come a time in life where you are going to have to wait. For coffee, for food, in line at a concert, for your baby to develop before its born, to understand a new skill you’re learning. It’s just apart of life and instant gratification doesn’t always work. I can’t not wait for something in my future (double negative alert: it’s ok, I was in the English Dpt in college) because I might need to think through whether it’s a good choice for me to make. Waiting is not obsolete because to be obsolete means that it no longer being exists and the concept of waiting isn’t going anywhere. I can’t just do it because thinking through decisions and weighing your options can be a good thing.
With all of this being said, it’s probably obvious by the title that I currently find myself in the position of waiting. Fun fact: a large desire for my life is to meet my future husband, walk together with the Lord and love each other like Christ loves the Church, and to eventually be married and enjoy the blessings that come with that season of life. How do I know this is apart of God’s plan for my life? Desires are God given and God breathed; He gives us desires so that we can anticipate experiencing His love through those gifts. Whenever He shows us a calling He has for our life, it’s safe to know that He will deliver on those promises because that’s who He is. It’s in His nature to keep His promises, He can’t help it. Needless to say I am so excited about experiencing all of these things however I have been in this season of waiting for quite some time. Ever since I was 16 in high school, I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted someone to share life with and eventually get married to (I’ve never been a “date just to date” kind of person. I’ve always viewed dating as leading to marriage). When I got my first boyfriend as a junior, I quickly knew what qualities to look for in a guy (on a surface level) but I let my emotions get the better of me. I just wanted to be loved and I couldn’t believe that someone was willing to be with me. I thought to myself, “This isn’t gonna happen again; I need to hang onto this so I don’t lose it”. I gave my whole heart and effort to the relationship with certain physical boundaries I set. I thought I did everything right but it ended 6 months later when he revealed to me that he was gay. I wasn’t heart broken (I focused on loving him as a friend the best I could because it was very difficult for him to express these things to me) but I was stunned.
My next relationship was a bit rocky from the beginning. Now I’m going to take a moment here to tell you that I am gonna do my best to sum up 2 years in 3 paragraphs. And y’all, if you don’t take away anything else form this post, remember these 2 things: 1) Always be on the lookout for sign of an unhealthy relationship. I don’t care about your pride, I don’t care about how others see y’all; I care about your well-being and your heart. 2) In terms of Christian dating, just because someone says they’re a Christian doesn’t mean they act like it. You can say you’re “spiritual” all you want. Demons are spirits too, be more specific. (Can I get an amen!) Senior year, this young man and I were talking to each other with the intention of pursuing each other. I was quickly finding myself catching feelings for this guy but I could never see him, it was all online. It came time for prom and we hadn’t had a label yet but I knew I wanted to take him as my prom date. I mentioned it and he said he was all in but had to request work off. I understood that so I told him to let me know when he would find out if he could have off. I waited and waited. And waited. April 20, 2012 was the night of my senior prom. I still hadn’t heard anything from him. I got dressed, I was excited, and I messaged him when he would be ready so we could grab dinner before. He told me that by a certain time, he would let me know. That time came I was still sitting in my mom’s car. I was devastated. I got stood up for my own senior prom. Of course, in an effort to cheer me up (my mom is the best person in the world) she took me to Dunkin Donuts, we phoned my friend whom my mom taught at her high school, and we picked her up and she was my date to prom. We met my friends there and everyone else was coupled up. They looked like they could tell I was heartbroken but didn’t want to draw too much attention to the fact that I had been stood up.
Later the next morning, I messaged him and told him that I didn’t want to talk to him because obviously, I was not a priority. I could see he received the message but I didn’t wait around for a reply. Fast forward to the final month of my freshman year of college. I was walking from my class and I got a message from him. I was weary but read it. He had apologized for before and asked for a second chance. Now I was in a weak spot: I hadn’t had anyone express interest in me since him and I wanted that again. I needed male attention to satisfy my emotional longing. But I also loved talking with him genuinely! He made me feel confident and beautiful. I thought maybe this time it would work. We resumed talking, summer came and we went on our first date, and I even had my first kiss. He asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. Throughout the summer, I drove back and forth to see him whenever he wanted, we talked for hours on end and I found myself devoting all of my time to him and not on much of anything else. He once asked me if I would ever want to have sex but I told him no, only when I get married. Then suddenly (by coincidence or not haha), he began speaking of marriage and talking about the rest of our lives together. But I loved it and this was something I truly desired too. I knew I wanted to finish college first and he said that was fine but when it came time to go back for my sophomore year, that’s when everything went south. I was very involved in college and for a month prior, I had warned him that during school, my priorities were as follows: God, family/friends, school, him and he praised me for it. I got back in August and missed a call from him and he changed his attitude pretty quickly. He grew annoyed then angry and restless but I was willing to stay up late, spend a weekend on the phone with him, anything I had to do to keep him happy. But around the 6 month mark, I was tired. I realized that, though he had NEVER forced me to do anything I didn’t want to do, I was putting in all of this effort and he didn’t have to try! I quickly fell out of any infatuation I had with him and got upset too. Then it happened.
A hail storm of insults were thrown my way, he told me that I never loved him, he said I’d be single for a very long time if I kept up the way I was acting. It was then that I realized he didn’t cherish my heart, he never cared about my passion for school, he wasn’t the man of God he said he was. You can quote Scripture until you’re blue in the face but if you don’t live it, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2: 17). He expected me to take him back just because we “had a little argument”. I broke up with him, wept to my college mentor (for days), and tried to live a normal life after him. I felt devastated emotionally and confused mentally; the one thing I could cling onto was the joy I felt for keeping firm in my conviction to wait until marriage. The first man to break my heart was my father and now he was the second. I was torn apart and wanted desperately to stop feeling the way that I did.
After counseling and many nights spent with friends, I got over him but I didn’t get over the hole in my heart and the longing I still had for love. The rest of my college career, I never had any boy express interest in me. Nothing happened. Everyone else went on dates, danced with boys at parties, and had serious boyfriends and I had nothing. I wish I were exaggerating. That hurt me so deeply. I am a happy person and have confidence, but my self-esteem and the way I saw myself was what was suffering. After some time, I came to the conclusion that either God had forgotten about me or He knew perfectly well what He was doing and wanted to watch me suffer on purpose. (Both of these are lies from the pits of hell, y’all) I didn’t want anything to do with quiet time or devotionals cause I was mad at God. But after much (I mean some serious work and time) effort of my spiritual community, I finally realized that He hadn’t forgotten me and would never hurt me. He had me in a season of waiting. Yes! That was it! I now had an answer, a name to put to this thing I was experiencing. I had peace and fell back in love with Jesus and this lasted for a whole…month.
I became anxious. I began to question why I was waiting for so long (not really that long in retrospect but when you’re a young woman who’s been marriage minded since 15 & only had 2 short relationships that ended because one was gay and the other was a jerk, it feels really long). Why me, Lord, why? Here I was, single and alone as the day I was born: with no man in my life to call mine and a space completely empty waiting to be fulfilled. Why must I wait when I of all people “deserve” this? I felt owed something because of what I had experienced and because everyone else around me had what I wanted. It wasn’t until the 2nd Sunday of September 2016 that I finally found some sort of peace in my waiting. I was doing my devotional and getting back into seeking Jesus actively every day and He sent me this message: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). My heart felt as though something had lifted. I then began desperately searching podcasts, scripture, advice from my community, anything I could get my hands on to explain further the message I’d gotten.
So now I am here. Destination, Waiting. Means of transportation, Grace. I am honestly still trying to uncover what I need to be learning. I am still desperately seeking Jesus in hopes that I’ll learn to wait well and trust this season I’m in. This season isn’t meant to harm me or tease me or remind me of what I don’t have but what I do: Jesus. The One who has always loved me and who will love me forever. The One who knows how to treat my heart. I don’t know how long I have to wait but I pray that while I’m camped out here for a while, I never get so caught up in looking for the bus to take me to the next stop that I don’t notice the beautiful places that surround me here.