When you feel like a limping survivor through the wrestle of waiting, the arrival of Advent can mistakenly be translated as adding years onto what already feels like a death sentence. Really God? More waiting?
Collecting the lengths of my hair in both hands, I pull them through elastic into a floppy bun on the top of my head. Saying yes to bangs seems like a good idea while staring in the mirror draped in plastic, until summer makes a return visit to the beach in winter. And the hair you were born with doesn’t cooperate, curling up like the shade on your window.
That good idea becomes a lesson in futility and a balmy 70 degrees gives permission to be myself.
This morning, I retrace steps of a neighborhood path; empathize with the trees holding onto their blazing red cheeks and golden halos in December. Lingering in the promise of cheerful shimmer, winter threatens to rise inside my chest.
When what you know on the inside of your root system doesn’t match your circumstance, even the familiar seems off.
Passing ponds of stagnant water, families of turtles sun themselves on water logged branches. Plunking into murky depths, as my presence gets closer. The same way I retreat to what I know, the familiar and what I’m good at, when I’m entering a new place of calling. Like the disciples going back to fishing after all that time with Jesus, it seems ridiculous doesn’t it?
Continuing up the hill, around the golf course, a man wearing a fedora saunters toward me holding the strap of a metal leash attached to his rusty brown dog walking at a slant. With each step closer, the dog tugs hard on the leash, making the man’s gait clumsy and awkward. “He’s determined,” I laugh and allow the dog to stand next to me, tail wagging furiously as I pet him. And the man waits quietly at a distance.
Is this dogged determination the posture I take in waiting? I desire God to hold the leash on my foolishness until I see something I want, only to abandon all discipline and obedience in order to obtain it. Leaning hard toward selfish ambition he allows a kink in the tension of his grasp, letting me face the consequences. In the end, all I have is slobber on my knee caps to show for it.
“Hey Lady,” I hear echo off the pavement, bounce off towering pines swaying overhead. As I continue walking my final steps toward home, I turn around to the small voice of a boy wrapped in blankets, sitting in a stroller, every finger outstretched on open palms, waving.
I return his cheerful greeting while maintaining my pace.
“Hey Lady,” he yells a second time and I turn around to an apology from his mother.
A reminder that coming to him like a child is all God asks of us. We don’t need to apologize for that.
Sometimes, when you feel like you can’t wait any longer for the fulfillment of promise, he nudges you to walk on the path of his faithfulness. One step at a time unlocks the door that was tightly shut on his voice. During the in-between of where you’re going you’ll hear Him speak, through waving branches and a family of turtles all lined up; a strong-willed dog and a child’s innocent voice. And the shackles that felt like a death sentence of unfulfilled promise transform into the message of hope and freedom, “I haven’t forgotten you.”
And you’ll realize that fighting the process of waiting is a lesson in futility. So you let your hair down, watch it curl up, and go with it.