I have never met a single human being who has said, “I love waiting. In fact, I am really good at waiting.” Inevitably when a conversation turns to waiting, whether the waiting be for something significant like important news or minor like waiting for dinner at restaurant, most of us declare, “I hate waiting! In fact, I am terrible at it!” We thrash against living in unresolved tension, against being out of control of a situation, and against facing the unknown for an extended period of time.
Confession time. A bit embarrassing but I find myself more often than not, with no one else around, speaking my thoughts aloud. Yes, complete conversations can easily take place. Even more than that, there are questions spoken out loud that are followed by answers. I’m not sure if I realize how often this takes place but no one else has said too much about me doing so. Or so, I think.
“You’ll stay in your room all night until you apologize to your brother, even if it means missing dinner.” I heard this line a time or two when I was younger. My little brother and I didn’t always see eye to eye—weird, I know—and so we would get in fights. But being the older sibling, of course it was my responsibility to be the bigger person and apologize. Sometimes I was so hungry that I would apologize just so I could join the rest of the family for dinner. Other times, my stubbornness kept me famished in my room alone for the evening.
Several years ago, I took up running. I had never run beyond what was required of me in school PE class, and then only begrudgingly. I needed to make a change in my health and running became that change. When I began, I could barely run the distance between two light poles without huffing and puffing uncontrollably. My brother happened in be in Marine boot camp at the time. Each day when I went out to run, trying to go just a little bit further than the day before, I thought of my brother. His experience was certainly more challenging than trying to run a single mile without stopping. Somehow, his perseverance inspired my own.
The first church we pastored was in rural Missouri. I had never seen myself as a “city girl” but it quickly became clear that our life experiences and wisdom were quite different. I knew nothing of “preg checking” cows or proper etiquette following the combine down the highway. I was not conversant in the various types of row crops or the inner workings of the farm bill. However, I had unique experiences that gave me a different perspective. I had spent a lot of time overseas, serving the church in various places. I had studied different languages and had significant cross-cultural experience. One was not superior to the other, just profoundly different. Sometimes, our differing perspectives allowed us to laugh together at our differences and learn from one another. Other times, it produced conflict. The gap between our worldviews often seemed too far apart to find common ground.
Like every child, I went through periods of rebellion and disobedience. When I was very young, I had a tendency toward stubborn insistence on my own way. Out of their love for me and desires for my health and wholeness, my parents would discipline me. But once the punishment had passed, they would always sit me on their lap. We would talk about what happened and, without fail, they would express their love for me. Then, we moved on.
About ten years ago while living in Missouri, I had the opportunity to experience a Civil War re-enactment. In my ignorance, I expected to show up to a crowd full of men dressed as Yankee soldiers with perhaps a smattering of Confederate re-enactors because, I mean really, who would want to re-enact the losingside? I got an education that day as I saw scores of individual dressed in the Confederate gray. While the event was interesting and I learned a great deal from the experience, I left with a sense that the entire endeavor was futile. No amount of re-enacting would change the outcome.
Taste is a powerful memory jogger. Every family has quirky favorites. My husband gasps in horror when I dip grilled cheese in ketchup. But for me, the combination conjures up memories of a happy childhood and a mother’s loving service to me. I turn up my nose when he suggests we pick up some bologna and Wonder bread at the store, but for him, that simple sandwich takes him back to his growing up years.
The summer before our wedding, Tommy took a job setting up giant inflatables for parties. He went to graduation parties, birthday parties, church and business events and set up enormous jump houses, inflatable volleyball courts and the like. It was grueling work. I began to notice charges on our newly combined checking account, 3 or 4 visits to Sonic of QuikTrip for Diet Coke. We were trying to save money so I got after him. In response, he invited me to join him to set up several inflatables in an open field in the heat of the day. Within an hour, I was hot, shaky, and dying of thirst. With a new empathy and gratitude for his labor, I quickly agreed to a much larger Diet Coke budget.