Waiting Room Transformations (2011)
Today I picked up a book that I bought as my first marriage was ending. When I bought this book my heart was hurting. I felt like I was going to die... quite literally. The person that I thought I needed in my life in order to breathe was leaving and moving on to new love. Half of my time on earth was spent in this relationship and I knew what my God told me about marriage. My mind could not begin to wrap around the reality in front of me. The divorce was dragging on and on and I "needed" the waiting to end. Everything about the situation was out of my control, though, and the most realistic thought that I could conjure was that I was powerless.
In what seemed to be an endless ache and one of the first weekends without my 3 year old son, I ventured out to increase my suffering.
I went grocery shopping at Walmart. Yes. I was a glutton for punishment back then.
As it turns out, God speaks at Walmart... even in a mass of self help books that often point to anything but Him. Somewhere between Oprah, Dr. Phil and friends I found a book with a title that explained me perfectly... AND pointed at God. It was entitled, "You're Late Again, Lord! The Impatient Woman's Guide to God's Timing."
Yes. It pointed a finger at God and I was comfortable with that during that season of my life. Since this author was blaming the Almighty for being late, I wouldn't have to go there myself. Never mind the fact that she described me as impatient. She recognized what I knew... that His timing was off right now. I'm fairly certain that my lips simultaneously formed a smile for the first time in about a year as I said, "Thank you, Jesus! SOMEONE gets it."
As I flipped the pages of this book that was clearly written for and about me, I was struck by the first chapter's title. It simply said, "He has a plan." All I could think of is that if this was His plan, then the plan was for the birds and I would like to opt out of it. I am quite sure the people in the Profound Literature section at Wally-World could feel the good vibes coming from my general direction. I'm inclined to say that I was that woman in the store that you just know not to make eye contact with, too.
I trudged through the cashier line with my curly hair tossed into a haphazard bun of sorts, wearing no makeup, and donning a wardrobe that begged for color (black was my signature color at the time). It was in that line that I began my reading. I mean, seriously, I was waiting for a divorce to get finalized. I was waiting for my child to get back home. I was waiting for the extremely slow cashier to act like she liked her job a little. I was waiting for the crazy coupon lady in front of me to stop being so stinkin' cheap and pay already. With every fiber of my being and with my martyrdom in check, I knew that I had more than met my waiting quota for a lifetime. I was not going to wait to start reading MY book. So there!
One of the first things I read as I skipped around Chapter 1 was, "Doesn't God know that we need those answers now? Yes, He knows, but thankfully, He's smarter than we are." Hmmmm. I had handed Him my world...and my world was crashing apart. I wasn't convinced that He was really smarter than me at this point in the game. Regardless, I gave this writer grace and a few more promised minutes of reading as she had perfectly titled this book. She may have had a questionable line in her book, but I was willing to give credit where it was due and continue exploring her work.
And then the unexpected... a few minutes of promised reading turned into a few days... and a few days turned into weeks and then months of reading and re-reading. I was captivated by the author's promise to me that this was just a waiting room in my life. I considered that she might be on to something as she comforted me saying that this pain would not last forever. Then, God fully backed her in His word and assured me that my labor was not in vain. The fog was clearing and I was remembering the verses that I knew so well from my Bible.
However, God knew I needed more. To complete my trail of reassurance, He sent one of His kids. He gave me a dear friend that held my hand during this time and continually guaranteed me that my God could and would use this pain for good. She swore that one day He would use ME (me?) to hold the hand of another ravaged soul. She promised me that just as I was not walking alone, I would be part of the way that God assured other women never had to walk alone, either.
Suddenly, I had a purpose. I could breathe again. I was not happy, but function and purpose had reconnected in my soul and I didn't hate my existence quite as much.
I started exploring the concept of "life's waiting rooms" with a vengeance. The term "waiting room" did not bring pleasant images into my mind for me, so I needed more information. Historically, I had clumped waiting room time into the "moments of my life I can never get back" category. The words signified everything I hated about the hurry up and wait concept and about being under the control of someone else. Waiting rooms, for me, were the collective anxiety of a room full of people. People who don't know one another from Adam's house cat and are ordered to silently wait while their fears, impatience, and insecurities dance intimately... good times, good times.
Even so, I never recalled being stuck in a waiting room forever. My spark of hope rested in the fact that there was always an end in sight. I felt an unfamiliar solace... a little tiny particle of peace was planted in my heart. Somehow I just knew that if God had me in a waiting room, that my time there had purpose. It's key to understand that this was rather miraculous considering that my level of mistrust was as worn as an American Express card that I never left home without. Even at my level of "mustard seed faith", however, I knew to BELIEVE that God was on target here and that I could implicitly trust this promise.
It was at that point I recognized, too, that He didn't cause the need for this waiting room. He simply had a plan for me and knew that life's circumstances would cause me to need it... and being the Gentleman that He is, He provided for His girl. (I kind of love that about Him these days!)
See, that particular waiting room is one that I would have never chosen. Divorce, for me, was the equivalent of a death with no body to bury. Closure was hard to come by. Divorce meant burying a dream... burying many dreams... and I couldn't see where anything could be quite as beautiful after the funeral.
Further growth and many years later, I can now see that laying a dream to rest REQUIRES a waiting room... no matter what that dream may be. It's the only way to learn to live again and God DOES, indeed, have a plan. The treasures bestowed upon me on this path and in this waiting room are how I know that even with crazy human variables, my God has the final say. I have received treasures via this path that I would not have received in any other way.
I have learned that I am enough and that my Creator loves the masterpiece that is me.
I've discovered that transformation is one of the fruits of relationships... and an invitation sometimes to life's waiting rooms.
Experience has shown me that even when I get restless and make mistakes in my waiting room, His grace will scoop me up and make me whole again. All He sees when He looks at me is a reflection of His love.
Today I can clearly see that I am no longer that child that entered the waiting room via Walmart's book aisle... and black is no longer my signature color. There's a lot of life to celebrate and this woman is doing just that!
God has entrusted to me two lives that I never would have had without this path. These little guys teach me that the sole purpose of relationships is transformation and without knowing it, they challenge me to continue being transformed one moment at a time.
Fulfilled promises surround me. The promise of women to walk on life's journey with has come true and then some. I am SURROUNDED by women who have walked similar paths and have chosen to have a partnership with the King himself. Through them I am reminded, yet again, that I'm still not alone.
A new word has entered my vocabulary indicating that I'm no longer a machine. It's the H word and it's a 4 letter one.
I can receive and give help today. Today I know that just means that I'm able to be loved and love.
Today, so many years later, I picked up the Walmart book off my bookshelf. I was feeling anxious with the loose ends and intricacies of life and my book just seemed like a good stopping point. Author Karon Goodman wrote this teeny little book that is truly a calming point of reference...and that also continually points to the Ultimate Book... for life's "moments." Today I read just what I needed to read in one statement. Karon wrote, "Each wait should get us closer to God."
Once again, I could breathe as I was reminded of life's purpose. The ultimate, eternal purpose of all that is me is to get cuddled up with the Creator of the Universe. It's just that simple. While I'm here, there will be hurts. Life will kick and kick hard sometimes. It won't always be pretty and I'm fooling myself if I think that things will work down here like they will in heaven. My God doesn't cause the trauma that this world brings with it, but I'm convinced now more than ever that He is not caught off guard by any of it and that He has a plan. Sometimes His plan involves waiting rooms, but it's in those rooms that I grow most beautifully.
Just for this moment and just for this waiting room, I don't have to wait to live. I've learned to live, love and even dance in life's waiting rooms. The One that I'm truly waiting for is ALWAYS right on time and there is definitely joy in the waiting... if I'm willing.
May you make mistakes, crave peace, and dance in grace-
Copyright © 2011 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.
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