The Cry Vol 16 No 2 . 6

Photo: Aram Park
Photo: Aram Park

 

The perfect wait

By April

I’m not perfect.

That’s not only a confession. It’s a statement. A truth. A foundation. A starting point.

The other day I was making tortillas (don’t be too impressed; I love Mexican food and the only way I can eat a semi-authentic taco in Romania is if I make my own tortillas). So, I was making a few flour tortillas and somehow did something wrong, because they just weren’t rolling out like they usually do, thin and fine. They ended up being thick and hard — too much oil, I think.

But the entire time I was rolling out the little round shells I was asking myself, “What did I do wrong? Did I let the dough rise for too long? Not enough water? What, oh what did I do wrong?” etc., ad nauseum. And while I knew that my husband would say the tortillas were good even if they weren’t, and that it’s okay to mess up once in awhile, I still had to keep reminding myself that I should let it go.

And I would let it go. Every five seconds. Because every five seconds that thought would come rolling back into my head like the pin smoothing out the thick tortilla: what did I do wrong?

Let it go, April. It’s okay.

But, what did I do wrong?

Etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.

When something doesn’t work out in my life, I’m really good at trying to figure out what I did wrong and can even be pretty hard on myself. I’ll tell myself that I don’t expect perfection because I’m not perfect, but still the smallest things will crush me. If I accidentally cut someone off on the freeway because I didn’t see them and they come racing by me, yelling, I’ll be close to tears and mouthing the words: “I’m so sorry.” Or, if I don’t understand what an old lady on the streets of Galati is asking me in Romanian, I’ll think: “I should know this!” Or if I make a bad batch of flour tortillas. Or if I can’t make someone like me, no matter how hard I try. Or, when I really, really want something to happen and it doesn’t, I’ll believe it’s because I’ve done something wrong.

And so, I easily submit to that load — the one that isn’t easy, the burden that is heavy. It’s the burden who whispers little lies to me about who I am and my worth as a child of God.

I find that submission is about surrendering to another, even if that other is a lie who can produce guilt and shame so powerful I am debilitated.

Here’s the wonder of it all: the truth of the thing that I submit to says a lot about the God I serve. If I’m submitting to the power of a lie that convinces me daily that I must be doing something wrong, that I am wrong, then the god I’m serving is one whose love is earned and I will always fall short of his salvation. Within such submission is a service based on guilt and shame rather than love. This submission is bondage, and it feeds my pride whilst feeding on my soul.

So then, what about a God to whom I submit and by whom am set free? The power of such submission is planted firmly in the fertile soil of love, holiness, justice and grace. Therefore, I am free to live, free to serve, free to wait for God’s salvation.

It is, however, in this waiting that I so easily succumb to old habits.

And then God says: “You haven’t done anything wrong.”

“But I must have done something wrong,” I say, “because I haven’t seen the fulfillment of Your promises, even though I’ve been busy feeding and clothing and seeking and listening. And haven’t I done justly, sought mercy, walked humbly? Haven’t I already waited enough? Haven’t we all? But how long, O Lord, will You wait? How long will You make us wait? Don’t You know that it’s in the waiting that I lose my grounding?”

And God says: “Why do you have to stay grounded? If submission to Me is freedom, then why can’t you let yourself fail? Why does it have to be about what you’ve done wrong? Why can’t it be about the waiting and the wonder of waiting? The tingle of anticipation. The sped-up heart. The deepening of longing. The excitement of waiting to see. The hope of imagining the improbable. The anticipation of My goodness to those who wait for my salvation.

“You want to be grounded so you’ll know what you need to do right, so you won’t do something wrong, so you’ll have the results you want. Right now, I just want you to submit to the wait and revel in it. Flourish in the goodness of the wait — the silence, the pausing, the hoping, the dreaming. In all of that, I am pouring out Myself for you until every fiber in you groans with the anticipation and excitement of My salvation — of seeing My goodness not only in the wait, but in the fulfillment.”

I’m not perfect.

It’s a confession. A letting go. A falling. A submitting. A waiting.

“The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for Him and seek Him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord” (Lam. 3:25-26).

april-f1April is anticipating three weeks with no hot water. Warm showers are not overrated. Neither are soft sheets, nice doctors, fat babies, spring, good friends, sisters, the laughter of little girls, nor the spark in a little boy’s eye.

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