If I told you this was an easy series to write my nose would grow long enough to reach the neighbors side windows-in the blink of an eye. It’s probably not a whole lot of fun to read either. I won’t offer apologies though. There are times that a voice whispers in your mind and you know that the time has come. Sometimes it means you are being prompted to make a change or it may mean that you need to do something as simple as speak extra kindness to the person checking your groceries for you. Whatever it is, I have learned that when that voice speaks and I listen-no, more than that-respond/take action, that the rewards are immeasurable. Maybe not right away but they are there.
Waiting is never easy. For someone who is driven by challenge and forward motion to stop long enough to listen can lead to frustration and the occasional foot stomping-not that I ever do that. And, I certainly never suggest that God get a move on with whatever it is he’s got up his sleeve (ooh, my nose hurts a little). Waiting on the Lord can push so many buttons that it is hard to know where to turn. There are days when I can’t slow my mind down long enough to focus on a single devotion or scripture verse let alone quiet myself enough to hear that whisper voice. Yet, He continues to ask me to wait. Kind of like waiting at a train crossing when you are running late (usually for church) when the train slows to a crawl with each car slowly lurching towards the other and, wouldn’t you know it, heaves to a complete stop (at which point the kids are screaming, hubs, scowling, whips the car into a u-turn and speeds home in a huff-true story).
There you sit. No idea for how long or even if the plan you thought you were headed for is still part of the plan. Aaaaaaaaannnnd wait. Another great analogy is sitting on a plane in the middle of a taxi way-ticket still in hand-only to hear the announcement over the loudspeaker that there has been an unexpected delay and, oh, by the way we are headed back to the gate. OH, and you’ve been re-routed. Huh? Like, I had this all planned out! I know where I want to go and I know how I am getting there and you change the itinerary?? But, that’s not part of the plan!
How often doesn’t a plan change, at least a little, to accommodate the unexpected? I really thought that I would be knee deep in a great career in the arts by now. I did everything I was suppose to do-I went to school, went to more school and then frantically moved in multiple directions saying yes to opportunities that I was convinced were all part of the plan. The only thing is I would start to settle in and feel like I had found that space I was meant to occupy and that still, quiet voice would say ‘you’re work is done here’. What? Well, OK, the one time I had a great job (I had helped launch a youth arts organization) and was offered a teaching position-the dream job I had worked so hard towards. It was easy to listen to that voice-it had whispered to me in the back hall of the building one morning early before work began. I wasn’t too excited when I heard it but once I got the other job offer I thought it all made sense. Until a couple years later when that voice popped up again. This time I was walking the halls of the institution and groovin’ about how much I loved my job. I ignored it. For a while. Circumstances popped up creating road blocks and deterrents that were too hard to ignore and with a heavy, heavy heart I resigned my position.
Never one to stagnate I created my own opportunities and started up a series of workshops-which I LOVED doing. I even shopped them around and was able to get a pretty good folllowing. Aaaaannnnd then we had to sell our house-which included my studio. So, we loaded up the truck and move to…nowhere. It was into storage for it all of it-every last cushion, tube of paint, hand towel and trinket. And waited.
If ever there was a time in my life that God has gotten my attention it is now. I have faced challenges, frustrations and trials but I have never been faced with the long, quiet, waiting space of, well, sitting around and waiting! It’s one thing to wait a little but to wait a lot is a bit of a strain if you are the type that likes to keep moving. Thrummthrummthrummthrumm…that’s me drumming my fingers while not so patiently waiting.
Once the pacing and looking forlornly heavenward phase passed a remarkable thing happened. I actually started to listen. Once in a while the thrumming still interferes with the process but I am learning to control that too. Sort of. When I could calm my spirit long enough to allow the quiet to enter my relationship with God entered into new territory. Like a patient parent waiting for a child to settle He waited for me to get it out of my system and slowly began to teach me. You see, in all my goings and growings I got a little too busy, a little too preoccupied and a lot too focused what was just around the corner instead of what He was giving me in each moment.
The quiet that resides in the waiting is seldom truly quiet. It is filled with whispers that call to see-a come look at this sort of call that begs me to see my time with family for the gift it really is. To watch my grand child grow and blossom right before my eyes. To see the world through unbusy eyes. Over the last few months I have been posting images on instagram that are a deliberate attempt to find single moments and offer up praise and gratitude. To recognize the way light enters my world or how something as simple as a messy bed can offer up peace and joy if I let it.
This may all seem simplistic but to someone who is use to pushing, pushing, pushing and ever rushing forward through life-often with my hair on fire-being forced to slow down has opened up a world to me that I would easily have missed if He hadn’t had other plans for me. I still get moments where the anxiety of not working, of not showing my work (I am a visual artist for those who don’t know), not painting, not moving ever forward and saying yes to every possibility weighs on me, stealing my breath. I long to be purposeful, to feel like I can contribute but it is when I stop to listen that I can hear Him telling me that he is growing me to be purpose-full and he quietly asks me to trust, and to wait just a little bit more….