Wait.

Wait. verb. Except verbs imply action, and waiting seems to be the opposite of an ction. As clarified by Dictionary.com, waiting is “To remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens.”

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Last week, we in the Northern Hemisphere celebrated spring. The daffodils bloomed, the birds chirped from the budding tree branches, and the lake lapped happily against the grassy shoreline.

Ha. Not in this state.

Here in Minnesota, there is still snow outside my window. It’s creeping away by inches, but still it lingers. The sky threatens to dump more on us on gray days. My spring jacket hangs empty in the closet, waiting for a day when unmittened hands won’t fall off before I get to morning class. The birds are singing on barren branches, the tired bark colorless. The afternoon sun is warm through the window in the afternoon, though it doesn’t cut through the chilly wind outside.

Waiting through the slow arrival of spring after this ridiculous winter is killing me.

I’m entertaining visions of legit warm weather, of feeling grass on bare toes and diving beneath lake water and revealing freakishly pale arms and legs to the sun. I’m hankering for a run through the park, the leaf shadows shifting across the path and the sounds of my gasping lost in the breeze. I can almost taste these moments as winter slowly releases its chokehold on Minnesota. But they aren’t quite here yet. And all of this waiting, after I’ve had it up to my frostbitten ears with snow and cold weather and being constantly freezing, makes me cranky.

If you can’t tell, I’m not an especially patient person. This is true of more than weather.

For example, some highlights of the average day’s impatience:

  • 10:29 a.m. – Strategize when to go to the campus coffee shop so I don’t have to wait in the between-class madness
  • 12:00 p.m. – Sigh loudly and drum fingers on desk when the computer at work takes longer than 43 seconds to load
  • 3:00 p.m. – Poke abs expectantly, hoping they’ll be dramatically firmer after approximately 3 workouts
  • 6:00 p.m. – Bemoan the wimpy burners in the dorm kitchens and that it takes 8 minutes to boil a pot of water
  • 8:00 p.m. – Hope that a 20-page reading will take 5 minutes so I can check Facebook (again)
  • 11:30 p.m. – Pray for healing and imagine that in the morning, scars will be magically erased and life will be totally swell

Add approximately 247 more episodes to this, and you have a day in the life. I am a girl who wants instant fixes, instant results, and instant answers.

Life doesn’t generally work like that.

Apparently God doesn’t either.

What madness is this?

I don’t want anyone to make me wait. Waiting sucks. When I tell God to make Thing X hurry up and happen or transform my heart in Way Y and he doesn’t seem to be paying attention, I get angsty and fill my journal with woe. I remember verses like “Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord,” (Psalm 27:14). On the few days when I feel patient, these are solid and comforting. On the other 361 days per year, I roll my eyes because that sounds like a lot of work and heartache for something that seems so uncertain.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

In all of my impatience, I’m clearly missing something. Perhaps it’s trust. Psalm 27:13, which leads up to the “wait for the Lord” verse says, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I forget this promise approximately once every twenty minutes. I think that God is as flaky as I am and has possibly forgotten what he promises. My definition of goodness gets wonky, and I forget that discomfort and minor trauma now may give way to good later. When the very obvious evidence that God is working does not appear, I freak out and think that he’s skipped my name on the list of prayers to answer and that I’m on my own and must make everything happen for myself.

Let’s all be thankful that this is my convoluted mind talking, rather the reality of how God works.

Here’s the truth: God listens me. He cares about what I have to say. He wants good things for me. He knows what those good things are, even better than I do. Making me wait does not show his punishment or negligence or spite. It shows that he knows something I don’t.

I could probably have recited these truths about God when I was five, but they still haven’t sank unforgettably into the fabric of my soul. I don’t know how to get truth down to my moody heart, which watches the seconds tick and taps its foot waiting for action. It urges me to do something, to be brave and step out and make things happen. But sometimes the bravest thing to do is to wait, to watch slow unfolding change that has nothing to do with my hustle and everything to do with God’s work.

I’m still waiting for this mindset. But I’ve heard that God is faithful. If he can bring spring to this Arctic tundra, maybe he can quietly flood my heart with a measure of patience and trust that I could never muster up on my own.

I just hope he gives it to me soon.

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Answers

Answers. plural noun. According to my desktop dictionary, “A solution to a problem or dilemma; a thing said, written, or done to deal with or as a reaction to a question, statement, or situation.” In this post, I have none.

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“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

I’ve been feeling unsettled this semester.

It’s made me a bit angsty. I’ve become extra-introverted. Homework has been unmotivated drudgery. Untangling my emotions enough to write is really hard work. I’ve been grasping for answers that will fix my issues.

And I’m still waiting in the middle of the mess.

Most of the time, I write about experiences from the rearview mirror, when I’ve gained perspective and have a sense of humor and can conclude with a neat little lesson. Today, I’m looking myself in the mirror. The regular one, that shows me right now, in this moment. Today, I’ve got no lessons. No neatness. No answers. And I’m sharing it, because I hope and pray that I’m not the only one who feels like this.

This is the girl I see in the mirror today.

She gets cranky with winter, so much cold and biting wind, and longs for summer and diving into warm waters and sitting in the sunshine and baking the cold feet that never seem to warm up. She wants to go outside without zipping a jacket up to her chin and see something other than eternal, blinding white.

She sits in Christian Theology, daring the abstract terms to make sense at 7:50 in the morning, drinking tea that she’s learning to like, grasping and waiting to figure out what exactly she believes, when she too will have all of the right answers like the professor lecturing from yellowed notes, drawing redemption promised and applied on the whiteboard in barely visible marker.

She tries on too many outfits in the mornings. She attempts to dress like a hip young professional three days a week and to avoid blowdrying her hair. She wonders if she’s getting too vain, if people are noticing the scabby spot on her nose from a cold and too many Kleenexes.

She wants to hug the little boy at her placement tight, the one who comes up and leans his head on her shoulder and quietly asks her to read with him, shows her when he gets a scratch, dark eyes desperately seeking hers and strong, small brown fingers finding her dry, pale ones.

She thinks about writing, wonders what shape hers will take. She tries to concoct story for a Fiction class, where her imagination is critiqued and her emotions are stamped with a grade. She tries to form words that make sense and beauty. She’s pretty sure she’s doing it all wrong. She questions her place, her audience in a world of mommy bloggers and Christians with all of the answers and people who somehow have time to write every single day when she’s just trying finish her homework and remember to make lunch. She wonders if she’ll ever make a difference, if her words will ever reach audiences of people she’s never met. She wonders what she has to do to get there. She wonders if that’s really what she wants.

She contemplates art. She thinks that right now she’s making some crappy stuff, something that not even abstract artists would approve. She doesn’t know how to fix that. She hopes that other people are wondering the same thing, that voicing the scary and unfinished is worth something.

She realizes she doesn’t have any answers. She couldn’t write a post advising singles on surviving Valentines Day because she wobbles between cracking snarky comments about couples and desperation to find a valentine in her mailbox. She couldn’t create a list of 4 ways to get more out of reading your Bible because she forgets to most days. She doesn’t quite know what it looks like to live with God, even after reading a book and leading a Bible study about it.

She’s trying to wait in the unsettled, to remember the quotes recommending patience and to let them sink into her soul. She doesn’t really like it. She hasn’t figured it out yet. So she clothespins paper hearts to yarn in the window of her dorm room. She writes grammar tests and grades homework. She skims theology books and sneaks YA lit on Saturday mornings. She eats Honey Nut Cheerios and browses blogs and stays up too late on weekends. She keeps on living. She doesn’t really know what other choice she has.