Six twenty dollar bills fell out of a card I opened from a friend. The sentiment included a wish for H and me to go out to dinner. In our waiting season to London, dinner dates have become a rarity because electricity, water and gas, of course.
We were going to use the generous gift to celebrate a breakthrough moment – the sale of our house, a donation allowing us to breathe a bit deeper about our daughter’s car problem, splurge when we finally hold visa’s in our hands. You get the picture.
But in transition, breakthroughs are sparse and require heaps of suffering. Instead of allowing circumstances to dictate joy, we made reservations.
I washed my hair, used red lip liner and wore high heels with a new pair of black slacks. The sales tag hanging oddly out of place in the midst of my closet provided a realization about how much life has changed for us. I wouldn’t do that now. Actually forget about a pair of pants I bought on clearance last summer.
At a table in a dimly lit restaurant thrumming with conversation, H sat across from me donning his first hair cut in months. And I thought about how cutting all that long hair off was like excising a mountain he’s been carrying without help. His eyes were sparkly again; his manner, free and unfettered.
This waiting season, it’s teaching us how to look at each other. It’s like we’ve been wearing our sweaters inside out and don’t even notice the tags sticking out. We don’t have energy for pants with zippers. Or people to tell us cilantro is stuck in our teeth.
We’re calling each other out like our future depends on the truth. And because that word oblivious, it scares us into surrender.
H leaned over a candle flickering in square glass and called me stubborn with quiet conviction. We weren’t angry or emotional but I swallowed the lump in my throat and refused tears that have become way too familiar.
I didn’t even see how my response so clearly illustrates how I am stubborn until a few days later.
At the restaurant, before the filet and blue cheese mashed potatoes, we talked about how I don’t like this side of God’s character we’re experiencing. Job’s God, I don’t really like that one. Reading about Him in the book of Job is fine though.
How do you navigate the same places, the same people, the same God you’ve always talked to when everything is different?
I like the instructive, safe God who helps me find meaning in mundane moments. I like the God who doesn’t meddle too much by asking me to do things that are uncomfortable. The God who offers enough challenge that I’ll cling to Him but not so tightly that he’ll ask me to sacrifice anything.
Lately, it’s as if I’ve been wrestling with God like Jacob and asking, “Please tell me your name. You aren’t familiar.”
And after a lifetime of intimate encounter in friendship, Jesus rightly asks me, “Why do you ask my name?”
Maybe you’re waiting for the right moment to enjoy a candlelight dinner, deep conversation with someone who looks you in the eyes and listens; waiting for a word that changes you on the inside when you hear it spoken.
Don’t let your restless indignation about being stuck instead of moving forward keep you from living in the moment. Enticed by tomorrow we can miss how God is redefining purpose, perspective and plans today and for the next 24 hours.
Unyielding determination to see how God is resolute, tenacious and iron-willed about fulfilling his purposes, that is what H meant when he called me stubborn.
God isn’t safe; He is stubborn about fulfilling His purposes within you. Sometimes that includes suffering. That is the side of Jesus I’m discovering and learning to accept as we wait.
How stubborn are you?
I come from a long line of stubborn people, and this post resonated with me big time. Hugs (Glad you got out to dinner. Good friend who sent that card.)
Smiling over here on the beach Lyli. Thankful for you friend. And yes, the very best kind of friend sent me that gift for which I’m deeply thankful.
How stubborn? Very. Tears fell as I read this Shelly, I get it. Sending hugs and much love to you.
I feel the hug and love Emma. Hugging you right back.
Oh Shelly – how I needed to read this. Thank you for being you & for sharing with such transparency. Praying for you today!
You put a smile on my face, thank you.
I second H concerning the determined woman who wrestles it out and then writes this post. God started something with me about three years ago and I been circling around it for awhile now…determined not to quit if it’s the last thing I do 🙂 Big Hug!!
I’m supporting you until you land my friend! xoxo
Shelly, this took my breath away. My insides shook a bit as I read this–these words, this hard season, it is for me too. Thank you.
I love you. You know I am praying.
I think grief and suffering don’t require the same circumstances for empathy to do some good work.
Listening to your heart here Shelly.
I have always been stubborn~!
I stubbornly refuse to listen to arguments about there being no God.
I stubbornly refuse to give up hope for my oldest son to make something of his life.
I stubbornly refuse to “grow up” as growing old is inevitable but growing up is optional 😉
What I love about this post is the way you two are really looking into each other’s eyes, and bonding over a nice meal out…and I feel these precious times will stand you in good stead in the future.
Standing with you as you hang in there !!
Love this Mary. I think we are equally stubborn! Thank you so much for your encouragement. And I agree, we are laying some good track for the future.
I love you because your wrestling gives me permission to wrestle, too.
Wrestle away Lori. We have to in order to stay sane yes? Love your heart. xoxo
Shelly, I’m not ‘in limbo’ or contemplating a challenge of moving (and waiting) to leave for London. But these lines still resonate: “Enticed by tomorrow we can miss how God is redefining purpose, perspective and plans today and for the next 24 hours.”
I need the reminder to just live for the 24 hours I have here now. Thank you friend.
I do a very bad job on most days of living in the moment and allowing the future to take a back seat. Glad it resonated for you Jody.
Quite stubborn. And I’m not feeling Jobs God either. I’d much rather skim through those words to get the parts where He lovingly cradles and guides me. But…yeah…sigh. I guess I’m a big stubborn baby. Lol.
I know Lisha, me too. And like most seasons of life, the parts of God’s character that aren’t as prettied up and sweet are shining out to me in the Bible like a floodlight right now.
This is very, very good, Shelly. And you know how much I can relate.
I do Michelle. It’s good to have friend in you who laments and celebrates God’s curious character. Thank you for being here.
Such a sweet surrender. It’s not our feeling, it’s our willing ‘amen’ and ‘so be it’. And we know that in all things……………… And here is some of the good already. A faith-filled stand. And when we’ve done all to stand, stand firm. And pray, pray, pray. <3
Thank you for the way you see Kathy and for being a voice of encouragement and truth. Always a gift to have your words in the comment box.
What an incredible compliment H paid you, Shelly. I had never thought of stubborn in that light–in a Jacobian headlock kind of way, with your saying, “I won’t let You go till You bless me!” God loves this tenacity about you, that you won’t let go. Yes, of course, God will never let *you* go (or H or Murielle or Harrison). . . . but He longs for us to cling to Him with the same stubborn determination with which He holds us, because it’s one way you worship, one way you show your love. I’m thinking in a strange kind of way that your wrestling mat is becoming your resting mat–resting in Him, even when you can’t fully understand the struggle (the scope or the why of it). You are exhibiting a tenacious trust, even though at times it doens’t feel like it. You are stubborn and nothing can wrest your Sabbath-rest from you, because you’re both resting in and wrestling with the Lord of the Sabbath. And He is enough. I so admire your stubborn courage; you give *me* (and your many readers!) courage, too.
Your words a sweet Lynn. I read them several times. Tenacious Trust — I like that. Thank you for being a beacon of belief and encouragement.
I love you so much, Shelly. You are so precious and gifted and such an encouragement to *me*! I will answer your lovely email. Forgive me. Things have been difficult w/ Mike’s surgery and some deadlines, but I will answer. Just know how much you are always on my heart and in my prayers.
This is from a daily devotional from Henry Nouwen… It made me think of you…
How do we wait for God? We wait with patience. But patience does not mean passivity. Waiting patiently is not like waiting for the bus to come, the rain to stop, or the sun to rise. It is an active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.
The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means “to suffer.” Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.
This is so beautiful Ro. It spoke to me deeply. Thank you for taking the time to share it. I really appreciate you and your prayerful thoughtfulness.
Oh yeah, the stubborn part. Sigh. Rich stuff here, Shelly. I know this is really hard. But it is also really good. Hang onto that. And then scream ‘enough!’ to the heavens. Sometimes, that helps. 🙂
It is the beautiful ugly Diane. I’m ultimately grateful for the process.
You are amazing, friend. I so appreciate how you are writing from this Job place. What a hard thing to do, but what a beautiful offering when struggle and suffering is split wide open for God’s purposes. Prayers for you in the restless wait and as you learn more facets of God’s character. xoxo
Thank you for this generous comment Ashley. It’s hard being this naked sometimes but its the only way to wholeness in my opinion. Hugs to you my friend.
Your definition of “stubborn” caught me by surprise, Praise God he IS that kind of stubborn! And blessings upon you, Shelly, as you yield to the fulfillment of his purpose. The harvest from this season of cultivating and pruning is going to be a bumper crop–for you and for many!
I’m holding your words about harvest close to my heart Nancy. The thing is, I have to be okay if that isn’t the case. That’s the hardest part about surrender . . . and stubbornness.
Agreed: We have to be prepared to say, “Not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39). My limited vision sees you and your family happily ensconsed in London, joyfully serving God in ministry there. If I’m wrong and that is not what God has planned, you will be far better than OK! God will see to it that Plan B is full of fruit-bearing and fulfillment as well. As you know, he specializes in bringing beauty out of ashes (Isa. 61:3)!
Thank you for your words, Shelley! Really beautiful and powerful. It is not easy to see another side of God, but I am so glad he’s stubborn enough to stay and introduce himself to us on a deeper level. May you enjoy his stubbornness, as challening as it may be sometimes!
Thank you Katha. It is hard, but I’m finding the wrestling to get there is ultimately worth more than I imagined.