For the last four years and twenty some odd days, I’ve spent most of my day trapped in a place where many people come to die.
This week, I began to spend that 8 hour block of my day in a place where people come to be born, to be awakened, to be enlightened. Instead of sharing in deaths and funerals, I will share in birthdays, Thanksgivings, and anniversaries.
A lot has happened in my life over the last four years. I’ve learned some many lessons about growing up, getting old, and dying from my time at The Manor. I haven’t just learned them, I’ve lived them. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s been.
I’ll be honest in saying that there were many days that I felt trapped, a prisoner with nothing more to do than scratch the passing days into the empty walls. Many days where I felt like I was rotting in that place, consumed with a yearning—for something more, something bigger, something deeper, something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Then I graduated from college and thought, “This is the time for change. This is the time for more and bigger and deeper.” Not so much. My first year after college was quite dark for me- struggling with who I am, what I was made to do, & how what I was doing with my life was fitting into that grand plan. For someone thrives off passion and purpose, passionless, purposeless living is all consuming. I spent that year learning, more learning, always learning. The Lord’s lessons are not easy ones. There are no easy A’s, no end of the semester sighs of relief.
For the last year and a half, I haven’t been able to write. That’s all I know how to do. It’s like losing the ability to breathe. For the past year and a half, I’ve been waiting. Waiting on change. Waiting on vision. Waiting on God. I haven’t been waiting for Him because I know that He’s been dutifully shuffling circumstances and people and places so that He could bring about change & reveal vision.
For the last year and a half, I have been watching. Watching my friends pursue dreams, fall in love, grow up, discover passions. And I’ve been waiting. Tearfully waiting. Disgustingly envious, begrudgingly supporting. Waiting for my time to pursue dreams, to grow up, to find out who I am supposed to be.
Simultaneously, I’ve been gobbling up books about Elisabeth & Jim Elliot, for whom I’ve gained a tremendous amount of affection. Never heard of them? Shame on you. Google them. In Elisabeth’s book Passion & Purity, she writes:
“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering. The love of God did not protect His own Son. That was proof of His love- that he gave His Son, that He let Him go to Calvary’s cross, though ‘legions of angels’ might have rescued Him. He will not necessarily protect us- not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.”
Hammering, chiseling, purifying. Patience, timing, waiting. These words must have slipped off my tongue and my pen millions of times in the past year. They’ve been my prayer, my cry, my frustration. Now, they are my refrain of relief.
To become patient, we must first wait. To develop faith, we must first believe. To become alive, we must first die. We live lives of paradox.
I’ve always hated spiels about patience because I don’t actually believe that those people have ever had to wait for anything their entire lives. They “waited” to know their life’s calling until they were 12, they “waited” to meet the man that they would soon marry at 18. They prayed and it came to pass. They asked once and it was given to them. Barf. Have you ever waited for anything longer than your food at McDonald’s? No? Then I don’t want to hear it.
I’ve waited. I’m waiting. I’ve prayed. I’m still praying. But God. He’s been faithful, been trustworthy. He was and is and will always be who He said he is. He is the One who created all things, spoke light into black, ordained every second, counted every tear, breathed every star. And He’s waiting. For you. For me. For the right time, the right season. He’s not waiting for us to understand because we never really will and that’s the point.