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.
This: ” I don’t know but I trust Him to get us there”? It looks like surrender. Your word was trust, and God has granted you many opportunities to employ it. I’m thinking that trust is the highest compliment of worship you could pay your Father. He will honor that, Shelly. He WILL get you there!
Yes Lynn, that word trust chose me, didn’t it? I had no idea how much I would be schooled in the way of trust this year but I’m filled with gratitude for all the lessons.
What a good end of the story story, an earthly story with a greater spiritual reality as wait for the end that is the new beginning. Praying for you dear friend and your family during these days of longing and trust, of walking by faith and not by sight, and not by optimistic deadlines but in trust that he who has spoken will bring it to pass. (Hugs)
Thank you Dea, your prayers are carrying me there, especially on days when it is hard to walk. I have a little skip in my step now because of that.
Love your honesty and realism and also know that the God who called you WILL sort everything out in HIS time…..so glad you can relax into this. This series is going to be a wonderful journey..thanks for allowing us to ride along with you during this 31 day period. Prayers and love.
Writing about what is happening daily has turned out to be a monumental gift I didn’t expect. I’m feeling God’s pleasure in it. And I’m not sure I would be feeling that way without your continual intercession Mary, thank you.
Faith in the end of the story while living in the messy middle. Hopefully, you’ll still have some skin left. 🙂
I think I’ll have thicker skin that is needed for the next season Sandra. That’s okay with me.
As an optimist whose heart is frequently broken, I am so grateful for the wisdom of this story. Thank you!
I’m so sorry for your broken heart, and pray it begins to look more like an exquisite mosaic that God is rearranging in beauty.
I’m thankful you are here Christie, thinking about you as you write during this season.
I was praying with friends yesterday, and my friend Dolly shared about the faith that we are called to is the faith of perseverance, of continuing to pray for the dreams He has set in our heart–trusting His timing, trusting His outcome. But yet–continuing to look to Him and pray and not lose hope. Thank you, Shelly.
“faith of perseverance” is definitely where I am Jennifer. These are some wise words friend, thank you for sharing them.
Oh friend, it pains me to see you go through all of this. Life is hard. Rejoicing that you do indeed have the hope that YOU KNOW will get you through. XO
There is always joy in the morning Rachel, thanks for your love and prayers. I want to hear about your journey to Ireland when you have some time. Thinking of you.
Well you know how much I can relate to this one, sister. Love this – so much wisdom here, Shelly.
Um hm, we are in the trenches together Michelle. Love you.
wow this is going to be a powerful series. Love this lesson and needed to read this tonight. Thank you for your honest sharing – your words are helping not just me I am sure.
I’m thankful that anything I write would be a source of inspiration Jean, humbled by your generous comment.
Such wisdom here, Shelly. Grateful to join in your journey. Your perspective on trust was just what I needed to read today. This is going to be good!
Thankful for you Ashley and for timely words. God is good.
Janet from FL here. Shelly, waiting is hard, especially when we think up all that could happen while we wait. My husband was divorced and single for 7 years, before he met me. He had given up on finding someone, and then I showed up out of the blue. We have been married 14 years now, and we have a wonderful marriage and life together. Yes, focus on how good the end result will be. God is working for your good. He always surprises us with more than we ever imagined! You will be celebrating!
What a great story Janet. Thank you for sharing.
Shelly, we’re ALL in the middle of SOME story. These words you made into a graphic are so true, “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 will keep you in my prayers.
Thank you Jody, your prayers are more valuable to us than you can imagine.