As I wait…

There is something deeply unsettling when someone tells you to sit still and wait. Remember when we were children and our parents would tell us to wait quietly? I think those moments were the most difficult few minutes of lives to stay still. It’s like when the dentist tells you to stay still and that is when you feel the most urgent urge to move about, even though there’s a masked bandit in your mouth with a drill.

So when the Lord tells us to wait, it is the most difficult and trying period of our lives. Not because we’re being “persecuted” or “tempted” or anything that would mean we’re spiritually high up. But because we just can’t stay still. Have you ever been told to not look behind you? What did you feel like doing? I don’t know about you, but my instant reaction would be to turn around and see what they’re telling me to not look at.

So when the Lord tells me to “Be still and wait”, all I want to do is “something”. Anything but wait. I get restless and anxious. Watch the clock ticking and the minutes that turn into days and then into months. Waiting is hard. And to be still, is harder.

Then the restlessness and the anxiety become loud and abrasive in my head. They make me want to do something stupid. Or thoughts like, “This is not what God wants you to do”, or “Maybe you just imagined His promises”, come up and there is no tangible argument to fight them. Helplessness and loneliness are next. I feel like no one understands me and that I can’t do anything about my situation. I feel lost and then anger barges in. I feel mad at the Lord. Why isn’t He communicating with me? What went wrong?

I’ll tell you what went wrong. I gave in. I allowed myself to think that God isn’t there anymore. That He has forgotten me or abandoned me. Self-pity ruled over me. Or the thought that God was accountable to me. The truth is, I have no right to shake my fist at God and demand an explanation. Why? Because I am not doing as He said. He said, “Be still and wait” and what did I do? Everything else.

I came across this song by Meredith Andrews that speaks to me in this situation. It is beautifully expressed and deeply encouraging. If you’re going through something like this as you wait, I’d recommend a listen. It will be worth your time.

Soar|Meredith Andrews

Advertisements

Being nice versus being loving

A friend once told me he was being nice to me and that he didn’t really like me, despite evidence proving the latter. To this day, this is sort of an “agree to disagree” idea with us. Kind of like Ross and Rachel disagreeing about being on a break. I could give an 18 page speech (front and back) arguing my case and he would sleep through it. I digress. The reason I found it so offensive that someone I called a friend was “being nice” to me was because I have always associated it with being fake.

When I was growing up, being an only child, I would be drawn to spend time alone. And when we had guests, mum would tell me to be nice to them. And I would. I wouldn’t want to, but I would. I would smile and play with their kids. I would serve them tea and biscuits. I would be the perfect host. I didn’t want to, but I did. I probably wanted to throw biscuits at them, but I didn’t. I was being nice. Being someone on the outside that I really didn’t want to be on the inside.

There is nothing wrong with being a nice person. Someone can tell me I’m a nice person, and I would feel warm and fuzzy inside. But someone telling me to be nice to someone and I feel the fake smile come on as if on cue. Maybe God saw this coming and told us to “love” instead.

The reason I bring these two wildly similar yet opposite notions into comparison is because I feel a lot of us being nice rather than being loving in church. And by us, I mean me, mostly. I’m a socially awkward adult who is also an introvert. Everything I’ve learned about socializing has taken me twice the effort it takes a normal person to learn. And quadruple the time it takes for them to learn it. I’d learned early on that I can get away from the stares I get for being an introvert or socially awkward, if I can just fake my way through it. So I smiled. I asked how they’re doing. Although, to be honest, I’m pretty much stumped after that. Where does the conversation go after that?

Over time, as I grew spiritually, I’ve learned that for me to really be nice, I need to love them first. I couldn’t smile and welcome them if I didn’t at least like them first. But how do you love people you meet once a week and know little about? As yourself, Jesus says. That’s tricky. I love myself more than anyone else on this planet. In fact, I live in my own little universe and everything and everybody else revolves around me and my needs. I can’t have 50 other little universes, can I? It sounds ridiculous. And sounds like it would take an awful lot of juggling between universes.

There, in the thoughts of overwhelming amounts of universes, I found the true meaning of what God was trying to say to me. It may seem obvious to some of you, but like I said, I take quadruple the time it takes for a normal person to learn. Consider this:

You meet someone really wonderful and fall in love. You notice and quickly overlook each other’s flaws. You consult each other about when to meet up. You’re distracted by thoughts about them. You find yourself thinking about them every time you happen to notice something beautiful, like a scenic spot, a good book or a great movie. You wonder if they’d like it too. You can’t wait to meet and spend time together, even though you’ve been texting each other all day. You grow to love their family and get along with their friends. You feel them becoming a huge part of your life.

Now, consider that “someone” being Jesus. Everything in your life now revolves around him. Everything he loves, you’ve learned to love. Everything he does, you do. Everyone he loves, you learn to love.

It gets easier to love people when you’ve started to love the person who created them. Christianity isn’t a religion. It is love relationship between the Creator and the created. As long as it is a love story, we can see ourselves being loving to everyone. If it is a religion to you, you will find it taxing to love and will resort to being nice instead.

I spent most of my life thinking of Christianity as a religion and thus ended up having to fake niceness to people. I would try to hide my flaws from people so they wouldn’t judge me. I would hide my hurt and pain and take a deep breath to fix my smile. Once I discovered the relationship aspect and found myself being an enormous part of a love story, I started to see God as someone who loves rather than someone who dominates. I started to see myself as loved rather than an awkward piece of worthless creation. This opened my eyes to see others as deserving of love. Once I realized that despite being incredibly flawed, I am unconditionally loved, I began to understand what loving others as myself meant. If despite my flaws, I can be loved, so can everyone else. After all, isn’t LOVE the basic principle of Christianity?