Monday, June 2, 2014

My Wait Problem

Many years ago, a visiting pastor said from the pulpit, “I’m convinced that every person who comes to me for counseling has an untreated weight problem.”   I, of course, was offended.  I had enough extra pounds to carry around without this guy adding the extra burden of psychological instability. But then he spelled it for me...W-A-I-T problem.  He went on to say that we can trace every addiction...every act of disobedience...every sin...back to one fundamental problem: as humans, we totally suck at waiting.  

Audrey II with Chicken Pox = Our Longings
I have never forgotten that sermon.  Which is saying something...cause I’ve heard a few.  His point was that we’re all born with inherent longings.  Big ‘ol hungry, itchy longings that, without constant supervision, have the power to drive us quietly mad.  (I totally imagine Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors meets a really bad case of chicken pox).  These longings are demanding.  They’re insatiable.  And they’re absolutely inescapable.  But here’s the kicker, we’re not supposed to scratch or feed our own longings.  Nope. The Scripture is clear on this point...only The Way can give us abundant life.  Only the blood of The Lamb can truly satisfy our constant craving. 

Wow. Did the God of the Universe really infect us with a constant case of emotional chicken pox and then warn us not to use backscratchers and calamine lotion?   This seems...cruel...and very un-Godlike. 
But it gets worse.  We’re all stuck in a world that is peddling anti-itch creams on EVERY street corner.  Drink this.  Eat this.  Try this.  Sniff this.  Screw this.  Read this.  Watch this.  Pin this.  Post this.  Buy this. Oh yeah, the World says waiting is for chumps and cowards.  We’re supposed to seize the day and create our own happiness. Even good-intentioned churches join the fray...offering spiritual solutions and programs to try to stem the inflammation. 

But despite our faithful waiting, the slow burn goes on for months, years or even a lifetime.  So, here’s the humdinger question: what if God chooses not to alleviate that deep ache for romantic love... for whatever it is that you ache for?  Do you just keep waiting?  Or do you reach for something – anything – to alleviate the pain?  
I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot lately.  In the shower.  On my way to work.  When I go to sleep.  When I wake up.  And the more I think about it, the more I come to a paralyzing, unflattering conclusion: my diminishing faith in God directly correlates with my festering wait problem.  And my festering wait problem is being fed by a deep pool of untreated anger. 

For those of you who have been kind enough to read my blog, you may have noticed that I’ve been eerily quiet for almost a year.  This is not a coincidence.  Somewhere along the line, slowly and without conscious thought, I totally gave up.  I stopped caring.  I threw in the proverbial towel. For 37 years I had tried to wait the way I was told to wait...sometimes failing miserably, mind you...but I still tried.  Yet the net effect was that I was still waiting.  People were still suffering.  Bad stuff still happened.  People still hurt me.  And my blasted longings always managed to claw their way back to the surface and demand more attention.  No way, God.  I’ve tried it your way for years and I’m still lonely, overweight, and generally unfulfilled.  I think I’m the only one left who is actually trying to wait.  Maybe it’s true...maybe I am a chump and a coward.
So, I dropped the microphone and walked off the stage. I no longer wanted to write about something that in my dark, quiet places...I no longer believed.   God is good, yes...but is He good enough?

Oh man.  I can almost hear some of you flipping through your mental Bible verse rolodexes.  Bless her heart; this girl needs the Word!  You may even feel like you should stop reading and start praying for my eternal soul.  I’m totally ok with that. I’m a huge fan of prayer and the Word.  But I hope you’ll temporarily suspend your internal need to fix me...and just keep reading.   My story isn’t over.  Besides, whether you admit it or not...this is your story too. 
A lot of really, really bad things have happened lately.  Really, really bad things.  To me...and to those around me.  Evil is on the move.  And I think the question of whether or not we have an untreated wait problem has become a matter of life and death.  Because if I’ve learned one thing in the last’s that we never really stop believing.  We always believe something.  Always. 

It is through my story of ambivalence and resignation that I have slowly and painfully realized that for 37 years, I have believed all the wrong things about what it means to wait.  And it’s this twisted, toxic belief that has poured lighter fuel on my anger.    
The irony is that, like a petulant child, I kept waiting for the Spirit to show up and fix it.  I mean...He’s the Spirit.  He’s supposed to tell me what to do about my problems, right?   I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing until He intercedes on my behalf. 

Yet, despite my petulance...He did show up.  There was no sunset or choir of angels.  There was no magic moment.  It was just a quiet, still voice that said, “Daughter, you’re not’re stalling.  I’m the one waiting.  Pick up the microphone.  Say what you really think.  I can handle it.”  
Touché, God...touché. 
So, I find myself here.  At my keyboard.  I wish I could say it was a selfless act.  It isn’t.  As Flannery O’Conner once said, “I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.”  I’m hoping that by showing up here...I’ll finally get some answers.  And maybe...just watching a lonely, overweight and generally unfulfilled woman struggle with what it really means to’ll get some answers too.  And then maybe life won’t itch so damn bad. 

To Be Continued...soon.


1 comment:

  1. Your mother told me to read this. I am glad I did. You see, I keep thinking that sitting around and waiting for things to happen is somehow weak. I have been moving forward, or should I say, "plowing through" life lately asking God to slam doors in my face if I am doing the wrong thing. I can accept a NO answer, but I can't wait. It seems like I should be doing something or working toward something at all times. I am and I have, but the longings are still there. At least this post makes me consider the fact that waiting can be an acceptable form of action for a Type A personality.


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