In case it wasn’t clear from my last post, I’ve been feeling like I have been on a very short leash these last few years, especially recently. I’ve said to Joe, and even to our pastor, “I feel like God has his thumb on me.” As soon as I say it, I realize it sounds bratty, selfish, and ungrateful. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that the answer to many of my personal petitions lately has been “no.”
It’s almost getting to the point where I feel like asking for anything just to hear a “yes,” knocking on any door, just to have one open. (I’m pretty sure my kids do this, actually. After I say no 734 times at Wal-Mart, they’ll finally ask for a $.97 Hotwheels race car. Do they really want the car when they have hundreds more at home? Or, are they just wanting to hear a “yes” from me?)
No, no, no. Not yet, not yet, not yet. Wait, wait, wait. I feel like God is holding me back. Pressing me down. Every time I try to move forward, he makes me stop, sit down and wait. I’m turning 35 in three days–and I want to ask, what have I accomplished?? I’m anxious to get going with my life, God!
It is in times like these that I’m tempted to ask, “Why?” I want to feel sorry for myself. I get wrapped up in the “don’t haves” of my life instead of the “haves.” While I may never know the full answer to “why” this side of heaven, I think I can begin to understand a little bit — I’m not ready.
I met my good friend and running partner, Lindsey, a year-and-a-half ago when she was coaching Christian during his first season of summer swim team. Lindsey wants to be my swim coach now, to test out a new training program that she’s developed for adults. I agreed because, hey, it’s free swimming lessons, and I’ve always felt insecure about my swimming abilities. My mom and sisters are all good swimmers who competed on swim teams and lifeguarded in the summers. My boys are both great swimmers. And then, there’s me. I’ve never liked getting my head wet. My breast-stroke is more like pull-glide-GASP-kick then pull-kick-glide.
Swim team didn’t last long for me, either. As soon as I had to start swimming laps in a lane behind a boy who had nasty, green boogers hanging out of his nose all the time, the seventh-grade version of me was “all set” with swim team. Besides, swimmers had to wear goggles. Goggles? They certainly went against my seventh-grade sensibilities.
I also said yes to Lindsey because, at almost-35, let’s be honest, I’m always looking for an opportunity to burn a few more calories. And that is why, after our first session on Saturday, I was disappointed. We had spent an hour in the pool, and I never broke a sweat (can you sweat in the pool)? A few days later, when I would’ve expected to have had sore, tight muscles, my muscles felt fine.
We had spent more time going over my technique, getting me comfortable in the water, and practicing my breathing than we had conditioning.
C’mon Lindsey! I wanted to say. Just let me swim and get a work-out in!
But Lindsey knew better. She knew I’d never last more than a few laps if I had to take a breath every two strokes. She knew I’d wear myself out after a few minutes if I didn’t use the proper technique when pushing off the wall. I wasn’t ready for lap training. I needed to learn how to swim the strokes efficiently and correctly first!
And so it is in life. I am constantly looking for new challenges, desiring more responsibility, seeking progress professionally, and when these things don’t come immediately, I get frustrated. I say, “C’mon, God, I’m ready!” But he knows I’m not.
It’s usually the people who think they are ready–for a promotion, for a new job, for children, for the Major Leagues–who are the least prepared. The ones who realize how little they know, how lacking their experience, how limited their abilities–are those who are the most ready, even if they think they aren’t.
I used to think ambition was a good thing. And I suppose it can be. But patience is a better thing. An understanding that there is a process. An order. That first things must come first.
Thank you, Lord. I’m not turning 35 on Sunday already. I’m turning 35 only. Take your time with me, God. Make me ready. Let me trust the process.
Let me trust YOU.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.