Guest Post by Cara George
Back in June I wrote a post about a quick trip our family took to Texas. For a wedding. The wedding of Cara and Ryan.
I knew Cara first as a student. Then as the president of a drama team that I advise. Then as a mentee as Peter and I performed their premarital counseling. And now as a good friend.
Over the years I have watched Cara wait. I have sat with her when the waiting was hard. And I have seen her grow. Today I’m going to let her share a few of the lessons she’s learned along the way.
I am not a patient person. In fact, I don’t like waiting for anything. I run for the bus almost every day and get a sweet triumphant feeling when I make it, knowing that I didn’t waste any of my time waiting at the bus stop. I don’t like waiting for things- or people. In the five to ten minutes that I wait for my friend at a coffee shop or for my husband to meet me after work I am vulnerable. I almost instantly open my mind up to panic and anxiety and self-loathing. The enemy whispers lies. They forgot about you, you’re all alone, they didn’t want to come, you are no fun to be around anyways, or maybe they got in a horrible car crash.
And I believe lies stronger and hear them louder with each heartbeat- waiting. But when this happens there is no triumph in it. I have had to wait. I couldn’t control the situation so that waiting was avoided. I had to wait. By the time the person has arrived, my heart aches and I am weary. In those five minutes I did not choose to wait, but I have chosen in the waiting to reject joy.
And I have waited for things large as well. Not five minutes, but months and years. In high school I waited for my father to find a job. I longed for stability and a home no longer hostile. I waited for relationships- friends and love. I prayed for them earnestly. I waited for my depression to end and I waited for my soul to feel the light of Christ in my dark night. And then came the hardest waiting. I fell in love. Crazy, wonderful, head over heels love. And he loved me back. And he wanted to marry me. And then he wasn’t ready. And then he knew for sure. And then he didn’t… Back and forth and my emotions followed. My heart was sea sick from the waves of emotion.
I was bleeding red with hurt, and then I burned white with anger. An active anger that would spew into eruptions aimed at the ones I loved. I couldn’t control the situation, so I threw a temper tantrum. I held my anger tightly and I screamed pride and kicked hate and fell to the floor in a broken mess. I couldn’t stop the fit. If God was watching, he must see me flailing and see how important this is to me. Eventually he’d give me what I want. End my waiting. Give me my timing. I wasn’t engaged to be married, and I was not going to be happy or okay until I was. The lies came strong, and I believed them so long and hard they became my truth.
I am married to that man now. The healing was painful and slow. Like an archaeological dig, at times it seemed that we would dig up more hurts than before as we laid our bare bones before the Lord and one another. Through forgiveness, the love of Christ conquered both of our fears. Never in my life was anything so worth waiting for. He is my best friend and my greatest ally in life. I do not regret how things happened or the lessons that I learned. But I did not choose to wait well. I chose lies instead of truth. I chose anger instead of joy.
So what do I do in the waiting? How do I respond? How do I learn from the waiting of the past and prepare my heart for the waiting of now and the waiting to come?
I have learned that waiting poorly for the thing that you want disregards all the joy that can be had in the waiting. It can even decrease the joy when the thing is received.
To me, the time in between-the waiting- seems like nothing. A void until I have reached the thing I am waiting for. But there must be value in that time. I must place value in that time. If I do not, I am taking the value out of my life. So much is lived in the in between.
I feel as if I am always waiting for something. I am waiting now. Anxiety and depression have been threatening me and I have sunk into them before. I am waiting for this time to pass, but I am more waiting on myself. Waiting to see if I will choose joy in this season. Today. Tomorrow. Choose joy. The word joy in Greek is chara- my name. My name means joy. Can I respond to joy as I do to my name? With excitement at hearing it and thrill at seeing it? Because, if I am going to sink lower into anything right now I would like to sink deeper into joy.
Joy, like any other discipline, takes time. It is the daily choice to see and to hear my name. It is not the end goal. It is the everyday aim that makes a full life. The beauty of joy is that it is not based on our circumstances. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Joy is the everyday acceptance of Christ’s presence in the waiting and in the trial.
Joy is the thing that I desire that I do not have to wait for. In and through Christ, I can claim an “inexpressible and glorious joy” right now (1 Peter 1:8).
So that is how I would like to respond to the waiting. Joy in the waiting and choosing to rejoice in Christ through the trials. For now, I am still learning and healing. The process is slower and harder than I would like, but I know that my soul is clinging more to Christ than before. I know that my heart has been opening to see his grace, feel his presence, and hear my name.