I am not a patient woman.
As a teenager, I waited for a respectable way to leave home and then I waited to find a respectable place to live when I was no longer welcome at home. Then I waited to save enough money to finish high school at night while I held down a day job to pay the rent.
A few years later I waited to qualify for enough financial aid to start college and then I waited for enough sleep when balancing work and school became more and more demanding.
Then I waited for my “real” life to begin when I married my first husband. I thought my quest for respectability and security had been accomplished. And then I waited to see how I could leave this marriage that became more and more difficult and frightening.
And those were the big “waits” of just one decade.
This May, my husband of 27 years died. Now I wait to see how this next chapter of my life will unfold and, still, I am impatient. What has changed, though, is my ability to allow change to have its own schedule.
I heard a sermon once that was about how God was the real author of my story. This was the hand-it-over-to-God, surrender-your-will sermon. Unfortunately, surrender did not hold a moment of peace for me; it just seemed dangerous. All my waiting had taught me to be proactive; to head off trouble before it builds into some gigantic passel of woe. If I wanted to court the dark night of the soul, denial and avoidance were excellent assistants.
Over many years, I began to see surrender and the role of faith differently. I looked back and saw that waiting, wondering, fear and uncertainty were powerful teachers. When I began to question my interpretations of words that raised my hackles, change came. I could replace the word “surrender” with “release” or “letting go.” I began to let go of my white-knuckle grip on my belief that I was alone, that I had to work everything out by myself. Waiting time became a possible invitation to grace.
One day hindsight delivered some blatant wisdom—I would never have met my husband Fred without those harsh experiences when I was a teenager. If I hadn’t left home with nowhere to go, I would never have met Fred’s sister. We became, way back then when we were 17, the best of friends. Twelve years later, I met her big brother, at last, on the night before her wedding.
Fred and I married, had a wonderful daughter and dear friends who are part of why I know God exists. My years with Fred were not always easy. Our lives were full of great adventures and some hard times. We lived with commitment, loyalty and love.
Six months after Fred’s death, I am again impatiently waiting as I allow change to arrive on its own schedule. My life now is slowly re-forming with independence and solitude that I do not always welcome. When I remember that there are powerful teachers working with me and I look for grace, I can see the bright light cracking right through the dark. And I settle down to wait, with faith, awhile longer.