As summer is rolling in, I feel like life has finally settled down. I feel ok saying it’s slowed down to the point where I’m actually able to begin processing the last couple years of my life. What a concept, right? For roughly two years, I’ve felt like life has just happened. Major life changes and events were occurring, and there’s me just swimming along, desperately trying to keep my head above water. Don’t misunderstand me- I’m not saying these events were all bad. I’m saying it’s been A LOT. For an introvert, and someone who needs a significant amount of time to understand what my heart is doing and feeling, these seasons tend to cause a little anxiety. And I’ve been all busy trying not to drown and couldn’t find the time to address it. It’s like I’ve been holding my breath for about 26 months, and I’m finally starting to release it.. little by little.
I’m typically an all or nothing girl. But lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that this might not be the healthiest.. or most effective way to live. I’ll have grand plans or giant dreams that I never take any action towards because I can never figure out how to do all of the things, all of the time. Inevitably, there’s not enough time or energy to make it all happen. I can’t figure out how I could possibly do Step Z, so I end up abandoning the dream as an impossibility before I even try Step A.
As the dust has settled in the last month, three major themes keep popping up in my thoughts, conversations and readings. This is unusual for me, since most of the time my mind is like a pinball machine, bouncing a tiny silver ball around and around with no clear direction or focus (Because I have to think about all of the things, all of the time). So, I’ve decided to try actually paying attention to those themes, since they have somehow managed to become louder than the pinball machine. I’ve decided to work on the art of taking small steps. Of focusing on a few things at a time, biting off small pieces, instead of attempting to stuff an entire slice of pizza in my mouth all at once. We all know how that ends.
Take for example, this post. Originally as I was thinking through how I wanted to write about all this, I thought it would be best to do it all at once. Get it done. Wrap it up. Make it happen and then move on. But that wouldn’t do these ideas justice. Each one is significant and has its own story attached to it. So I decided to write about them one at a time, and fight against my desire to do all of the things, all at the same time. I decided to fight against my temptation to want instant results, which ironically leads me to the first main theme…
Last night, two of our good friends got married. To each other. It was just wonderful. There were so many people we loved there to celebrate, and we tore up the dance floor. Obviously. Josh and Natalie are maybe the most joyful, genuine, sincere couple I’ve ever been around, and it was so refreshing to watch them take in every second of the night.
Josh’s father, Larry, is a pastor and performed the ceremony. Everyone always told me he is a great speaker, and now I know why. His explanation of how a husband and wife love each other inside of marriage is one of the best I’ve ever heard. He described that love as three movements: the first looking at each other, the second looking at the horizon, and the third looking outward. Each movement had a characteristic attached that he called pivotal to your love growing deeper. When looking at each other, forgiveness is key. When looking outward, spending quality time with each other is key. And when looking at the horizon, patience is key.
The act of looking to the horizon, with your partner by your side is one of looking to the future, asking God what part you play in his will, where He’s taking you. But he’s taking you there as a couple, not as individuals. Two completely different people, two completely different upbringings and backgrounds and world views and thought processes. Two completely separate reactions to the same situation. And God, in his grace, is making you one and taking you to the same place. It’s no wonder why patience is key- that is going to be a long, and often difficult journey.
Just so we’re all on the same page..
Well. Based on this definition, it’s safe to say patience is not one of my strong suits. The second definition is what does me in: an ability to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. Heck, I got annoyed with Taylor earlier because we were 7 minutes late to dinner. And don’t even get me started on how restless I’ve been lately. I have dreams, dammit, and I want to be living all of them. Right now.
You see, I want to be at that place on the horizon. And God is showing me is that I lack patience to endure the journey that will get us there. Yikes.
Larry referenced an African proverb in last night’s ceremony that says,
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
So often, I trick myself into thinking I would rather go fast. Oh, but when I really think about it, that’s the last thing I want. The last thing I want is to “achieve” something, reach all my goals, and realize I have no one to share it with. No one who knows what I’ve been through, no one’s stories that I know. I’ve always wanted a partner, and I’m so thankful for Taylor. I’m so thankful that we get to journey through life together, but it has become clear to me even in our first five months of marriage that the journey will require patience.
Patience with each other, and with ourselves. The ability to endure our faults and the healing that comes with them, to endure life’s hardships without complaint. The ability to have a quiet, steady perseverance that in the end will lead us to much greater joy than having all of the things.
Too often I forget that we’re only 24.. that Taylor and I have barely been a couple for a year. I expect us to have it all figured out. I am impatient. Impatient with myself, impatient with Taylor, impatient with circumstances. Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that God’s love is performance based. That’s a lie straight from hell, but it’s one that I battle daily. When I believe that lie, I set unrealistically high expectations for myself, and then get impatient with my inability to adhere to my own fabricated standards. I frantically compare myself to anyone and everyone. I get impatient because I don’t believe I am enough, that I’m doing enough… as if God’s acceptance of me could possibly be based on my own merit.
My ability to be patient is directly tied to believing the gospel: I offended the Holy God, and the price to be paid was death. To reach resolution in a conflict, someone has to give. It should’ve been me, but instead God gave me Jesus and completely absorbed the cost of my sin through his death on the cross. When I am believing that my worth is based on that truth, and not on my performance, I can rest. I can be still. I can endure. I can patiently wait on the Lord because I know He has not forsaken me. He had a chance to, and instead he pursued me. I don’t have to strive to earn anything back. I did not lose his love.
So this summer, I’m focusing on patience. With myself, with Taylor, with friends, with circumstances, with our marriage and most of all with God. I’m focusing on enduring with people, and recognizing that life truly is a journey meant to be lived out and experienced little by little. I’m working on listening more to what Jesus says about me, and less to the lies in my head. On giving myself grace, and being still, believing that I am enough because of Jesus. I’m choosing to trust in God’s timing, wait patiently on Him, and ask him to move in my heart and life, instead of trying to do all of the things.. all of the time.