Today is going up to a balmy 55 degrees in Washington DC and tomorrow it will hit 60 in New York. A week ago, it was 20 degrees. On rare, unseasonably warm days like this, it’s nearly impossible to fight the temptation to go outside and soak up as much sun and warmth as possible, knowing that the weather will turn cold again and Spring is still a couple of months away.
I prefer warm weather and feel all kinds of guilt when it is a warm, sunny day and I am not outside enjoying it, particularly when you get two seasons of warmth and sun. There were days last summer when it would finally cool down to a “chilly” 85 degrees in DC and if I was not outside running or walking or just sitting, I’d berate myself for wasting the day.
But winter offers it’s own gifts: coziness, boots, hot chocolate, warm fires, low-humidity, and rest. And I know that there will be days during a blazing hot summer when I am sick of my wedge sandals, frizzy hair, and feeling guilty for not getting out and enjoying the weather enough, when I will long for winter, knowing that it will come again.
So why can’t I have this perspective on my own life?
I have been in an extended season of limbo (not the dance, although at times I have felt like I’ve been on a year-long vacation, drinks included), looking for a job and facing disappointment after disappointment. It has felt endless, even though I know that’s not the case. I have felt like Narnia–it’s always winter and never Christmas. Admittedly, those are my more dramatic days.
When put in a season of waiting like this, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that God is ignoring you. Doesn’t he see that this is unsustainable? Doesn’t he agree that I’m wasting away here? Why won’t he do something?
And then I remember the Turtles’ song, which I know comes from Ecclesiastes, but I prefer their version: to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
I was clearly reminded of this truth on Friday, when I found out that I had not gotten a job that I had really wanted and for which I was actually over-qualified. I was told by the man-who-would-have-been-my-boss that he was very impressed with me and with my resume and with my interview. But he is a godly man and had agonized in prayer for about a week and couldn’t deny that God was leading him toward the other candidate. He expressed interest in seeing what kind of door God would open for me (this particular door was a pretty prestigious one).
Of all the horrible things about this fallen world, I think that I hate disappointment the most. Not only do you not get what you had wanted or even needed, it’s a challenge to fight the creeping cynicism and embarrassment, that you shouldn’t have gotten your hopes up in the first place. I hate feeling foolish.
It’s hard to describe the mix of emotions that I felt about it (but you know that I’ll try). On one hand, I obviously felt sadness and disappointment–I had connected with the team and was eager to work with them. On the other hand, I felt so much peace and relief–God was not ignoring me at all. Instead, he was guiding this process and in this case had closed a door that no man could open. And no, I would not have to start heading into the office at 8:30 every morning.
Since I had received the news on a bus ride from Washington to New York, I had plenty of time and very few options to distract me from processing with God. I was able to realize a few things:
1) Whether you are waiting for a job, or a spouse, or a baby, or something else that feels life-defining, it’s ok to feel sadness and disappointment and to express those things. It’s not a lack of faith.
One of the greatest comforts I felt on the bus ride was to remember that even though Jesus knew the power he could wield–and would wield–he still wept when Lazarus died. He cared that Lazarus had to taste death. He cared that Mary and Martha were grieving. And he cares that you and I face disappointment and sadness. I believe that he is also eager for the day when it’s time for him to make all things new and shares our grief that the day is not here yet.
In fact, I’d say that keeping those emotions inside and putting on a brave face and not bringing them to Jesus is more of a lack of faith. Jesus is our high priest. He already knows your heart and that you’re really pissed and sad. So talk to him about it. See what he says.
2) Observe the season you’re in and remember the loving God who gave it to you.
I am not a morning person. I’m also a self-starter and I hate being micromanaged–no one needs to tell me to keep busy. Although it’s not a lot, my financial needs are being met. Why am I so much in a hurry to go back to work? Since I co-founded The Wheelhouse Review, I have essentially been working an approximately 30 hour week and manage about ten writers/designers. And I can do that in my pajamas, after getting a great night’s sleep, while still having time to look for jobs, network, and take trips up to New York to visit friends and family.
In fact, I had prayed for the opportunity to do this very thing–to write and create. And I am so grateful that God didn’t laugh in my face, but gave me the chance to do something that I love with people that I love. So this is a season for which I’m thankful. Is it financially sustainable forever? No. But you know who knows that too? God.
It would be a huge mark of ingratitude on my part not to enjoy every gift this season offers, because I know that when I do go back to a full-time, paid job and I’m on someone else’s schedule, I will miss the freedom that I’ve enjoyed this year. And all the sleep.
3) Remember that it’s not about you.
When you’re asked to wait for something, remember Joseph. Joseph was unfairly imprisoned for years, all the while waiting for God to make good on his promises to make him great. Even after he “networked” with the Pharaoh’s butler to get him out of prison, he was forgotten for over a year. But once the season changed, he was given not only his freedom, but the second most powerful job in Egypt, which allowed him to start a government-sponsored hunger prevention program and save his country and family from starvation. Reflecting upon those circumstances to his family, he said, “[y]ou intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (emphasis added)
It’s really obnoxious when people attempt to console you with “God’s got a plan.” It feels so heartless, like God is treating us like pawns (not even rooks or bishops) in some grand scheme, indifferent to how it affects us. It feels that way. But it’s not true.
One thing that I’ve realized for myself is that I may never fully know how God will use this season. But I do know that God will use it to make me more like his Son and he can use it to glorify himself. To be included in God’s plan to reveal himself in this world, though it doesn’t feel like a treat, is a huge deal when it comes to matters of eternity. It’s not a hard thing for God to bless you with a job, or a spouse, or a child. But to have those things while also being able to be part of his renewal of this world, while knowing him more? Isn’t that worth waiting for?
I don’t in any way want to make light of your journey or your wait. I don’t really understand why God does what he does, why he does or doesn’t allow certain things when we want them. But I do know that he’s good and that he wants you to know his goodness too. I pray that today we both would!