There are few things I dislike more than waiting. Sadly, in life, I haven’t developed much patience for anything or anyone who delays my gratification. It’s seen in the way I treat my kids and my husband, in the millions of times a day I check my phone, in the way I respond with huffs and puffs to the slower-than-usual grocery cashier. And I expect…no, I know…that this has trickled its way into my view of God and my thoughts about spirituality in general.
Unfortunately, in a society where we can get everything we want at the drop of a hat – our coffee, our food, our dry cleaning, our money, all of our information and communication –we miss a lot of beauty in life because we’re so distracted all the time. It’s not easy to buck the system, so to speak, and find a different way of being.
Over the past months, I’ve been challenged by the Lord to settle myself down, to quiet my mind and soul, and wait with Him. And I feel my heart coming alive in a new way. I needed to share this with you because I think (and I’m still learning) that waiting might be one of the most important keys to spiritual formation.
So you, my friend, are on the journey with me. One of the things I’ve learned most while on this journey of waiting is that life is just that…a journey. And journeys are not fast, but slow and full of process, not the quick fix that I usually prefer. My formation with the Lord is not going to culminate in 1 week or even in 1 month, but in the slow, beautiful rhythms of a lifetime.
So what does waiting look like? I think waiting looks a lot like shutting up in my own experience. Shutting my thoughts and busy inside world up and focusing my conscious attention on Jesus. Just sitting with Him, just looking at Him, just feeling His Spirit inside, just being present with His presence. Listening to the voices inside and facing all of the soul holes that have formed over a lifetime. Finding out who I am in God and courageously yet humbly living it out. Does He speak to me every time? No. Am I still distracted and disquieted at times? Yes, but I think over time and practice, that will lessen. Is He always there? Oh yea.
And in these moments of quiet reflection, I’ve fallen a little more in love with Love Himself.
But it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies in my heart…and still isn’t perfect if I’m honest. For me, there’s always a motivation either inside or outside that creates that feeling that it’s time to change something.
Before I started this journey, I was in a dark place. One might term it “the dark night of the soul,” though that sounds a little dramatic. I didn’t feel much like seeking the Lord, wondered if He was even real and certainly if He had any interest in me…the questions far outnumbered the answers (as they often do) and my doubt couldn’t be quenched easily, caught between the “’now’ and ‘not yet’ of my identity” (Alan Jones). This unrest in my soul was my signal that I was about to embark on something big, something deep, something real, something long. And running away from the process just wasn’t going to cut it this time.
I was recommended a book by a friend called When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. I wept while reading the first chapter because the author’s journey was mine. She explains this experience quite well I think: “It’s anguish to come to that place in life where you know all the words but none of the music.”
My heart, my deeper self, the Spirit of Christ within me was screaming to be let out, a holy quaking of every part of me that had been lost in the life that I had so skillfully crafted. It was time to enter the cocoon, that place of waiting, a fertile emptiness that you can only trust will leave you with the wings you’re supposed to find in there. It’s letting go of something old so something new can grow. Meister Eckhart says it best: “The fruit of letting go is birth.”
The result for me has been an awakening and emergence in many areas of my heart. I’m still in the process, and I’m learning more places where I need to enter the cocoon and be transformed. I’m still figuring out how to courageously be who Christ has made me to be. But something new and holy is being set free inside.
This is formation. This is waiting with God.
QUESTIONS FOR YOUR JOURNEY…
Do you feel like God is leading you into a “cocoon” or place of formation?
What do you need to let go of to enter this place?
What are some rhythms you can develop in your life to wait with God more?
What has God done in your life that you find gratitude for?
What is He doing NOW (even if you feel dissatisfied with where you are currently)?
Consider keeping a journal. Ask God questions. Write down answers. Linger.
Photo by Shreyas Malavalli