This morning, my nephew was antsy. His mom had promised him a new pocketknife from Walmart. As we took the curves and the hills to get there, he asked, "Is Walmart always this far away? I don't remember it taking so long." I explained that it only felt far because he was so excited to get his knife and it made the ride seem slower but in actuality Walmart was the same distance it had always been.
I would say that instance was the precursor for writing this post but that's not true. It just happens to tie in with what I've been thinking so much about lately. Actually, something else was the cause of this particular post. My summer garden. But I digress. You don't even know what the topic is yet.
When I was younger, I was positive God had it out for me. I was too sassy, too fiesty, too whatever and He didn't like it. As punishment He didn't give me anything I wanted when I wanted it. I had to wait for everything. To buy that toy all the other girls had ("maybe next time"), to finish weeding the longest row of strawberries ever planted, for my friend to hurry home so we could play. Everything took for-e-ver.
When I became an adult, He still didn't get it. Just give me what I want, when I want it and we'll all be happy. Dang Him. Between you and me, I wanted to meet the man of my dreams and get married at the end of my first semester in college. Then I could drop out and have babies and my life would be complete.
I did not--I repeat, not--meet that man the first semester of school. Not the first year, or the second or even the fourth.
I was sure He either didn't care or He was trying to force patience on me.
And then finally, at the ripe old age of twenty-three, I got married. I look back now and laugh. I was still a baby. Surely this was the end of the whole waiting thing, right?
Not even close. There was still waiting after I was married. I got pregnant about a year in, with very little effort. Could this be it? Was I finally going to get what I wanted, when I wanted it?
I still remember the day I had my first miscarriage. One minute I was a future mom and the next I was back to completely ordinary and unspecial. Instead of women congratulating me, I got pity looks and pep talks about how it was all going to be okay and eventually I would have a baby. I wanted to smack every one of them. I wanted to hold my baby on my due date. Was that really so much to ask? But this is not a post about pregnancy loss and there are so many women who have suffered more than me.
Bottom line: I knew He was punishing me, teaching me patience until He had 'beaten' me into submission.
Fast forward almost twenty years. The waiting hasn't stopped. I've had to wait for everything; for my husband to get hired as a professional firefighter, for him to get into vet school (he was waited listed for what felt like eternity but was actually two months.) Our house at vet school wasn't ready on time and we had to cram into a two bedroom extended stay. And much bigger, more personal things. I could go on and on. But the truth is, I measured everything in time. And it wasn't time on a clock; it was 'however long it's taken God to grant me this thing that I want/need.' Let me be clear: I wasn't asking for a Porsche, or a mansion, or a trip to Hawaii. I was asking for righteous things. Things that would further our future as a family. How dare He make me wait for all of them?
I don't know where, and I don't know when, but at some point, I stopped paying so much attention to the waiting and decided to focus more on the living. Rather than worry that it took five and a half years to build our new house, I just went outside and jumped on the trampoline with my kids. We read books together and watched movies and played games and chased and ate and laughed and worked. And it was fun. It was hard too but it was okay. Because I was living life the way He'd always wanted me to.
I'd like to say I finally understand, but as soon as I do, He'll just teach me something else I didn't already understand. Because He's awesome like that. He wants me to be happy even in the middle of trials. And as I am patient and seek His help, He sends me tender mercies.
This summer I've done something I've never done before. I don't know if I'm suddenly old for my age or if I really needed some healing time. I suspect after the last couple of years, it's some of both. I went to the FFA greenhouse and the local farm supply store and bought...plants. Big deal, right? I've had gardens before. Most country folk have. But I did something different this time. Rather than push the kids to come out and weed and plant and turn it into a chore that everyone dreads, I quietly planted the plants myself. And when it was time to work the garden, I did that too. I took my time and didn't stress about the remaining weeds when I was too tired to pull anymore. They'd still be there tomorrow.
I've felt His hand in my garden. As I put love and effort and time into working it, I feel Him cheering me on.
The crazy thing is, I love weeding the most. The thing I hated most as a child, has now become something I love. Those plants with the horrible pokey spikes are my favorite, as long as I have my gloves on. Pulling one up, root and all, makes me feel like David when he took out Goliath. (Okay, not even close, but you get the picture.) Yesterday, when the rain came down, I couldn't make myself stop and by the time I was done with the very last weed, I was soaked. Ah, but it felt so good.
The thing I've finally learned is that there is always going to be waiting. There's no changing that. Heavenly Father can't give us everything we want right now. We wouldn't grow. And if you're not growing, you're waning. And waning is no bueno unless you're the moon.
There's still plenty that I'm waiting on: to become a Food Network level chef, a bestselling author, a master gardener, a Joanna Gainesesque decorator, a Beethoven rivaling pianist (I'd be happy if I could play most of the hymns.) Some of these things are not going to happen. Actually most. (Though I'm not giving up on the author thing, ever. It feeds my soul.) And that's okay. Because it's the working and the striving and the praying and the caring that makes it all worth it.
I'm not in a hurry. I'm going to end up where I end up whenever I get there. As long as I'm headed in the right direction, that's all that matters.