Our bedroom is pitch save the light from my phone illuminating blurry eyes. The sound of crashing waves from an alarm startles me from sleep but scrolling through conversations that have slipped into my inbox through the night do the work of awakening. This morning, several people write with the same questions, “Any news from London? When do you move?”
I respond with paragraphs that all come to the same conclusion – I don’t know yet.
We would like to give you a date, a planned time of departure but God is saying something about the unknowns on our calendar.
Every time we’ve come up with anticipated timelines, we’ve worn fool on our foreheads, set ourselves up for inevitable disappointment. Optimism isn’t always the best way to comfort ourselves in times of uncertainty.
A few hours later, I join H who sits on the couch holding his phone with worship music playing through the speaker.
I interrupt to pass the baton of questions. “Any news from London in your morning emails?”
He shakes his head and we talk through the consequences of silence, about the delay in terms of obligations, financial responsibilities and how they affect our children. He tells me about the Stockdale Paradox in Good to Great by James Collins.
Collins writes about a conversation he has with Admiral James Stockdale, a decorated US Navy vice admiral who was a POW in the Vietnam War. When he asks Stockdale about his coping strategy this is how he responds:
“I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade,” said Stockdale.
When Collins asked who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied, “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.
This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
It isn’t the optimistic who make it through life’s battles but those who believe in the end of the story while remaining vulnerable about suffering in the middle.
I would be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that not having a departure date brings severe consequences, that there are days when unknowns make me want to pull my skin off and scream in a vacant lot. But God is making it exceedingly clear that more than obtaining the details about our move, he longs for us to long for Him first.
So today, I’m relinquishing my desire for preferred outcomes, bowing head and heart while wrapping my arms around the waist of Jesus.
About that timetable to London? I don’t know but I trust Him to get us there. His timing is perfect.
I won’t be sharing my posts on social networking channels daily because who wants to see that much of me, really? If you want to follow our adventure to London subscribe to the blog in the side bar and posts will slide quietly into you inbox. Start from the beginning of the series here.