Every year in March, my husband threatens to move back to Texas.
In March, our home in the Washington, D.C., suburbs experiences more cold days than warm days, much to the disappointment of my sun-loving spouse. As soon as the Christmas holidays end, he grows increasingly weary of the cold weather and counts the days until the warm weather returns. By March, he’s quite done with temperatures below 50 degrees, and he unpacks from seasonal storage fond memories of the balmy weather of his youth.
Every year, I remind him once again about Texas summers.
Waiting is especially difficult when what we most desire is just around the corner. Early hints of spring make the cold days seem even longer. Teachers dread the high-energy chaos in their classrooms that mark the final days before Christmas break or summer vacation. Our frustration grows when we are within a few pounds of our weight-loss goal. When I graduate…when I get the job…when we are finally married…when we have a baby…then I’ll be happy (or satisfied or complete). We want to be over there, instead of stuck here.
Already, but not yet. Almost, but not quite there. In seasons of transition and transformation, instead of celebrating how far we’ve come, we often focus on how far we have to go. Instead of enjoying our current surroundings, we become obsessed with the final destination.
One of the benefits of living a life of faith is understanding that God sees the big picture in ways I cannot. With the benefit of hindsight, I see patterns emerge as I look back over my fifty-three years. What sometimes felt like waiting, wandering, and wasted time turned out to be seasons of learning, growth, and preparation for what came next. Even though I am often impatient and restless in the waiting, God knows what I need in his perfect timing.
A few years ago, I experienced a season of waiting and wandering when my youngest daughter left for college. As I surveyed my newly empty nest, I was eager to jump into my new life. Unfortunately, I had no idea what life in this unfamiliar territory was supposed to look like. I experimented with a variety of activities, attended conferences, applied for jobs, and anxiously waited for the blueprints for my next chapter to arrive on my doorstep. I journaled, prayed, and whined at God, begging to be struck by a lightning bolt of vision and certainty. Over and over, I heard these words in response:
Just do the next right thing.
Eventually, my lightning bolt seemingly delayed, I decided to appreciate the scenery and detours along the way and give up worrying about the destination. As I relaxed and enjoyed what was already present in my life, a vision for next steps began to come into focus, one small detail at a time. Doing the next right thing, with no guarantee of results, became my mantra.
As my youngest daughter and her friends anticipate college graduation later this spring and begin to plan for their next chapters, I remind them of the lessons I’m learning about patiently waiting.
- Be where you are now.
- Enjoy the journey.
- Do the next right thing.
- Squeeze every drop out of this moment.
- Trust God.
- You’re in charge of the process; God is in charge of the results.
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