A couple days ago I shared in this post that I was weary of waiting, but that during this Advent season of waiting and anticipating I wanted to wait well, to rejoice in my weariness. I have been humbled and bubbly with happiness at how my thoughts and experiences have resonated with so many of you. People have reached out to me and let me know how encouraging it was to hear (or I guess read) that someone else gets what they too are feeling. "Misery loves company" and I guess weariness does too.
It can be hard to admit that we are weary. We live in a world where hustle is preached & and quick results are emphasized. A world where strength is admirable and weakness is deplorable. We are supposed to do what makes us happy, without really counting the cost. ( I have thought about this before.) I think all these ways of thinking set up us for weariness, but we are hesitant to share those feelings, especially this time of year where everything & everyone is supposed to be so jolly that their bellies shake like bowls full of jelly. (I think I have the belly shaking part down, but that's for other reasons besides Christmas cheer. Why is that image only endearing when referring to Santa or a child under the age of 2?). We are afraid to admit, possibly even to ourselves, that we feel the heaviness of emotional exhaustion at Christmas time...the most wonderful time of the year. At it's best it seems silly. And at its worst- sac-religious. I mean it's Jesus' birthday people. Get it together already.
I was a bit nervous to put my admission of weariness in this season of waiting out there, but the response I have gotten has let me know I am anything but alone in my feelings. I once heard it said that the two most powerful words in the English language are "me too". I hope that what has begun as muddling through this Advent season will graduate into... some verb that sounds less like walking through wet sand. (I am all about low-standards & expectations these days.) But I really think that this is possible over the next few weeks by the power of the "me too" moments. So, thank you for allowing God to speak through me to encourage you in your waiting & weariness. And thank you for speaking truth & encouragement to me by your comments, texts, emails and whispers of "me too".
I believe that God didn't design us to wait alone. Waiting-yes. Loneliness-no. I am being reminded that God created us for community. During times of despair & weariness I tend to close myself off from others, even the people I love & need most. God is challenging me to press into those relationships, despite the emotional energy it takes-the energy that I often feel is lacking. I hope that one of the things I internalize deep in my very soul this Advent is that I am not meant to wait alone.
God says in Isaiah 43:2 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers; they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."
What a promise! I have to wonder if some of God's presence, if some of the fulfillment of this promise, is found in the shared experiences with other people.
As I continue reading in Isaiah 43 I see in verse 4 why God makes this promise: "Because you are precious in my eyes and honored and I love you". Okay, I am just going to sit in that for a bit. When God looks at me, even the messy, weary, aching, sinful, waiting me, His face curls up into a smile because I am precious in His eyes. I might not be precious in the eyes of the world. I might not see precious when I look in the mirror (raccoon eyes and post baby hormone sweat hair is kinda the opposite of precious), but God sees me as precious. Not pathetic. Precious. And honored. I might be getting pooped & drooled on all day. I might be slapping together pb&js and cleaning up toys off the floor for the up-teenth time. I might be doing my darndest to throw together a weekday feast out of what sits in the pantry, and doing all the things the world will never see (including wrangling my just-turned 3 year old daughter back in a 2 story window as she was on a mission to climb to the 3rd story ledge and rescue her treasure: the top of an acorn. Good grief. I spent most of the rest of that afternoon rocking back in forth in a corner and counting down the minutes until girls' night.) But God says I am honored. When I feel disgraced & forgotten & overlooked & lost in the sauce of the rush and mundane & and so stressed I am about to climb out a window myself, God looks at me and He sees me. And He says I am precious and honored. And guys, He loves me.
Another beautiful, wise friend shared with a group of us bible study girls the other day that waiting is a place of honor. I am honored because I am chosen and loved by God. And my weary waiting work is honored because it is the sacred, soul changing work that God has ordained for me right now. It might seem to me to be needless or meaningless or just plain frustrating but this work set before me was dreamed up by the very mind of God and set before me by His very hands. So instead of casting it aside, instead of giving it my leftover bits of energy, instead of resenting it-I need to put it in its proper place of honor. It might feel like drudgery-this weary waiting work. But it really is a place of honor. Why? Because of what comes next in Isaiah 43.
Everyone who is called by name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made. (me!)
Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes (hmmm...me again)
Who are deaf, yet have ears! (yep. Also me.)...
'You are my witnesses' declares the Lord,\
'and my servant who I have chosen
that you may know and believe in me
and understand that I am He'". (v.7-8, 10)
Face.to.the.floor. I can't even put into words what these words do to my heart. In my weary waiting work I get the privilege of bringing glory to God. But more than that! I, me: the willfully blind and deaf one, am called a witness to the Lord! In this waiting God must be going to do something miraculous, because last time I checked, and correct me if I am wrong but, blind and deaf people can not see or hear. Traditionally a witness testifies as to what they have seen and heard. So, if I am going to see or hear something to testify about at all God must be going to cure me of my willful blindness and deafness. Just as He saw the blind man that was cast aside by the world in John 9, and just like He lay hands on his broken eyes with merciful tenderness & cured Him, He must be planning the same for me during this waiting.
But you guys. You guys! It gets better! I am not just being healed, although that alone would be more than enough warrant praise. I am being healed for a purpose- to be a witness and servant of the Lord. I have yet to know someone who truly was a witness to God working and was not so humbled that they desired to be His servant. I feel as though the latter is a natural follow-up to the former.
So, this waiting is not in vain. I am waiting with expectancy knowing God is working here. I will hang a figurative "God at work sign" in this place so when I am tempted to despair or to become impatient during this season of waiting, I will just look at it and remember. I will see this waiting as a place of honor among the rubble because I get to witness the work of the Lord here. And I get to serve Him, not in some future destination on the other side, but here in my weary waiting work.
And maybe I can come to a place where I whistle while I work. I like that image better than the one of me holding my jiggling belly full of jelly and laughing. It less undertones of heart disease & sounds less repulsive.