My friend, Emma, is a year out from the loss of her husband, who valiantly battled cancer before leaving her with three children.
Recently, Emma met a cancer widower. Justin and Em hit it off and their hearts seem to be heading in the same direction: they’d both like to use their hard and holy experiences to help other young widow/ers.
Emma was pretty sure she had met the man she would marry and share ministry with. And then Justin backed way off.
I’ve never met this young man, but my guess is, he simply needs time and space. His plate is heavy with grief, heavy with being a single dad, with working full-time and still figuring out grocery shopping and laundry and how to fix his young daughter’s hair. There is little emotional room left on his plate to resolve how to marry someone who doesn’t live in the same state.
He still wants Emma in his life as a friend. He still calls and texts. Often. He still wants to do the team ministry. He still thinks Emma is amazing and beautiful. But for now, just a friend.
As you can imagine, this causes great pain to Em. This lovely, faith-filled young woman is dealing with grief all over again. She’s weepy. She’s uncertain. “Should I cut it off completely? It’s too painful to keep on going as we are now.”
There was a season—before the ravages of cancer set in more fiercely—when my first husband and I had a dream of owning country property and hosting weekend retreats for cancer survivors and their caregivers. At the time, we had no resources to make this happen on our own.
I remember wanting to know clearly from God if this was His plan for our lives. “Father,” I prayed, “if this dream isn’t of you, then please take it from my heart. I’ll be disappointed, but at least I’ll know where to set my thoughts.” Because it can be exhausting to keep faith and courage and hope alive.
But this is what I learned: If we don’t know which path to take, if there’s no out-loud voice speaking to us from the heavens, then … wait.
And while we’re waiting, do what we know to do today. Get the kids to school. Show up at work. Write the thank-you note. Cook extra food and take some to the neighbor whose wife is in the hospital.
Here’s the universal problem: No one enjoys waiting. We know what we want, and we want it now. I’m this way. You’re this way.
There was a young shepherd-turned-songwriter who wrote these words just for me, I suspect:
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
— Psalm 37:7
Wait. Yachal in the original Hebrew, is translated, “to wait, hope for, expect.”
Do you see what I see? We’re not merely to wait. We’re to wait patiently with expectation and hope.
What if we could wait, and live in the moments we’re waiting? Because if we’re living in the future—a calling, a different location than here, a new house, a dreamed-about spouse—then we’re wasting this present moment.
And this present moment is my life, made up of seconds and minutes.
This excerpt from a poem by Christina Grace Hutson printed in Bella Grace magazine speaks to me. It’s titled, “If We Never Arrive”:
“I stand on ground 20 miles ahead of me.
Once this … then I’ll be at peace.
Once the circumstances change, the symptoms leave,
the answers come, the loved one heals,
the person repents, the project is done …
But light sings relentless,
that today will always be the blessed day,
because it’s the one we have.
Even if we never arrive.
Even if nothing ever changes.
There is no summit.
Only the days we have.”
If we can’t be present and content in this moment, then when we reach that place of dream ministry, or dream house, or dream spouse, we won’t be present and content there.
Wait. And be present in the waiting. Because this moment of waiting is your life.