I am so bad at waiting that I often don’t leave voicemail. I just try to call again, and again. And then I call whatever alternate numbers I can find.
I bring a book with me wherever I go, just in case I end up unexpectedly waiting. Because then at least I’ll have something to read.
I went eleven days over my due date before going into labor with my second child. When the eleventh day dawned and I was still pregnant, I called the midwives and begged them to JUST DO SOMETHING.
It was a Sunday, and I was scheduled to go see them on Monday. “Just try to wait,” they said. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”
Waiting, even when we are anticipating good things, can be really hard. When we are anticipating difficult things: the result of a biopsy, news about a job we’d really like to get, word from an estranged loved one, it can be excruciating.
Yet I’m well aware that how I wait for things both big and small says a lot about who I am. When waiting for my second son to finally be born, I was full of anxiety, frustration, and the desire to JUST DO SOMETHING.
And I was annoyed with God. Didn’t God see how hard it was for me to get around? How much my ribs ached from all the pressure the baby was putting on them? How tired I was of not being able to eat heartily or sleep well? How much I wanted to meet my baby NOW?
Waiting for anything is a kind of wilderness — a “womb of uncertainty,” my friend Marlena often says. It is cramped and dark in a womb. The process of moving through the womb and into the outside world is painful and even risky for all involved. But it is also the source of life.
Marlena, whose first book, A Beautiful Disaster, just released from Brazos Press, is a good friend of mine, and the sort of spiritual mentor to whom you can confess your real, ugly, unattractive fears and feelings, and instead of feeling shamed and unworthy, you feel understood, loved, and encouraged.
As she tells in the book, Marlena has been through the womb of waiting more than once. She has survived more than one sojourn through the wilderness — through persecution at the hands of fellow Christians, through a childhood marked by poverty and loneliness, through anxious waiting for test results and for the provision of daily bread, both literal and spiritual.
What I love about Marlena’s book is that it proposes no pat answer to the troubles of life and faith. There is no one-step solution, no single concept that serves as the key to all locks. There is no blithe assurance that everything’s going to be all right if you just do x, y, or z.
There is, however, the wisdom of a deeply gracious soul who knows suffering from the inside, and who manages to celebrate the blessings that come through suffering while never suggesting that suffering is in itself a blessing; to find comfort in a God who may allow affliction for a time but who is our constant companion in and through it all.
Additionally, Brazos Press will be giving away a five-book package that includes: A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves; A Life Observed by Devin Brown; Darkness Is My Only Companion by Kathryn Greene-McCreight; Be Not Afraid by Samuel Wells; and Monk Habits for Everyday People by Dennis Okholm. Brazos Press will also be giving away copies of A Beautiful Disaster to five additional winners. Winners will be announced Friday, June 13. Click here for more information and to enter to win!