Learning Waiting

Muscadine Press Blog

There’s a lot of waiting in the community around me. Wearying we-will-call-soons after serious medical tests. Long we-will-be-in-touches after job interviews. Life goals that may take years if they come at all. The insurance company sluggishly responds to urgent calls and emails, and as we transition from summer to school, the days gyrate from a frantic attempt to finish the summer bucket list to both longing and dread for the returning school year rhythms. 

Sometimes I tend to gyrate as wildly as the end of summer does. I pray, but I do it with wide swinging orbs. When the really big waitings come, it seems easy to swing wide to a white-knuckled “oh please provide, Father” as the full ramifications of potentially life-changing, eminent transitions become clear. 

As I settle my soul, I draw closer with a deeper, slower prayer. And as the weight of the waiting continues to press and as answers are still far off, I do what we often do. I stay busy. Like the end-of-summer pool runs and popsicles, I slide in activities to keep myself from thinking too much. I tackle projects, see people, or zone into introvert time.

Right now, I have to point out, none of these things are sinful. Scripture clearly affirms the quick cries of prayer. “Lord, I believe—help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

And obviously, our deep, mind-heart-soul prayers are part of the foundation of our living relationship with God. 

Even the practical coping technique of staying busy to not go crazy is practical and healthy.

But there is something missing. As my mind swings wide not into hyperbolic what-ifs but into the honest and daunting evaluation of potential outcomes, I forget to bring my heart and my soul along for the ride. And it means that I accidentally numb myself emotionally to what the Holy Spirit is really doing in my life in these very big moments.

If I can turn my heart on to say, “God, I want to trust you,” the next step is not necessarily to say, “God is good all the time!” Sometimes the more trusting next step is actually to say, “because this is huge, and I am scared.”

We already know that there are problems that are bigger than us. It is only honest to admit it. It is exactly true that these problems are capable of crushing us. If we fail to ever acknowledge that, even when Jesus rescues, sustains, or provides for us, we cannot see it fully.

When we enter difficult seasons without being willing to stare them down in full honesty with God in prayer, it is like dueling with a giant while we cover our eyes with the other hand. I peek through my fingers and flail my too-large sword blindly, alone and afraid.

When I slow my heart enough to gauge the size of my foe, then look God in the eye and see His loving gaze in return—when I know that He is big enough for the battle that is too big for me—I swing differently. 

 

Alyse Fulton for Muscadine Press

About the Author

Alyse is an Anglican deacon cum stay-at-home mom and writes from northwest Arkansas. She is deeply grateful for the rich education she received while pursuing her degrees from Beeson Divinity School (M.Div.) and Ouachita Baptist University (BA). She loves to spend time with her family outside in the sunshine and has a weakness for feel-good British television.

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