I have thought for a long time (until about 30 minutes ago, to be exact) that periods of intense waiting, patience, wondering what is next in life, were characterized by their occasional entrance into our lives. I have viewed them as commercial breaks, not the television program or feature presentation.
Perhaps I am feeling differently about this because for me the past three years have been, shall we say, saturated, with the aggravation, depression, and wear and tear of such periods, and thus am inclined to feel that such a ratio of patience to smooth sailing is bound to continue. Regardless I wondered driving home just now if maybe the waiting periods are not so much commercial breaks as they are the bulk of our growth and spiritual and emotional development, and faith and dependency on God.
We say that we are not of this world, that we are above it all--Yeah. Right. We turn on the TV for comfort, we pray for a mate to soothe our aches, we search for peace and fulfillment in this world. I think God is constantly trying to get our attention, saying "Yo! Focus! We've been over this how many times? You've got the priorities backwards. Don't worry about your future, your lunch, your cuticles, your career. I'm in charge, now let's hit the book again, please, and try to pay attention this time." I think He says these things through trials in our lives not only because He designed things to work that way--rather than just give us a multiple choice test, He decided to get artistic and creative with it--but because the Bible puts certain messages/truths/rules in plain language, and to carry that out it must be illustrated on another canvas: in worldly times and lives. Also, probably, because most of us are not the most devoted readers of the Bible and so the only opportunity God has to get our attention is outside of its pages and inside the world.
I'm sorry, I'll switch this blame game to myself and drop the "we" language and switch it to "me," considering I have on more than one occasion declared the Bible to be "boring" at Bible studies. That "plain language" I mentioned above? Yeah. Not exactly the most thrilling reading. I just find that my eyes glaze over the choppy, matter of fact sentences. Psalms on the other hand, makes me cry with its beauty, especially Number 139. "You know when I sit and when I rise...You discern my going out and my lying down...You hem me in--behind and before"...Whoo! Get the tissues! But as for the glazing over, I feel a lot of that is Satan trying to distract and prevent me, an avid reader and lover of the literary, from really swallowing and digesting the most important words I can aim to stow in my heart. But that right there is another blog for another time.
So as much as I hate to look ahead in my life and imagine that it will continue to be filled with more dead ends than open, foliage-filled paths, I am starting to wonder if this might be the case. What am I going to learn, honestly, from constant good times? I don't say all this to sound like God is out to hurt us and make our lives miserable, I just feel that if we are stuck in happiness always then at some point we are going to be professing truths that we once believed because we felt them and have over time become immune and numb to them and are just professing because it is our habit. The only way God can teach us is to continually mix it up.
I feel maybe hypocritical, otherwise just half-hearted in writing this, because last night I was on the phone with my brother Patrick, a wonderful man with a wife who he married right after college, a career he landed before college ended, and a baby on the way, in bitter, painful tears because my life is nothing like his. Nothing falls into my lap at the "right time." I know this is a lie because God always, always, puts people in my life at the right time, in grocery stores, airplanes, random last minute social gatherings, but I tend to focus on the Friday nights that people cancelled plans, on the activities I missed in high school because I was too shy as "the new kid" to be proactive and join them.
But my Father takes care of me, and Patrick told me last night, "Bailey, I think you're an awesome person, and I'm not just saying that." He told me about Acts 17, where Paul explained that "from one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'" I know this, but I throw my fists. I blame others for my unhappiness; I know it is unfair and socially unacceptable to do this out loud, so I internalize it and get mad at people I don't even know, due to symbols they carry around that indicate they have reason to be happy--diamond rocks on left hands, car seats and Dora videos, bulky resumes--forgetting that they are just as human as me and therefore have equal opportunities to throw fists in the air.
Point being, I think when we (well when I, at least) imagine a happy life, I don't imagine a "perfect" life, but I do imagine fulfilling pieces coming into the picture at some point: husband, kids, career, along with general comforts day to day: cups of coffee, lunch dates, amusement parks, good movies, fuzzy cats. But God works on entirely different terms as we do. He will always be supernatural, we will always be His creation. He looks at us and says, "I love you, so yes, I'm going to give you people who love you, and avenues for you to use your gifts (which I gave you, by the way), but there are also going to be windy avenues that won't make a lick of sense to you, and the only thing that's going to be a stronghold for you during those times is Me."
So I'm just wondering. If perfect God is essentially a 180 in character compared to imperfect us, then wouldn't it be likely that the proportions we have in our minds of happy vs. frustrating life events would be a 180 compared to his proportions? Possible.