Lately, I have been incredibly restless and impatient. Although I actively and intently make time for prayer - time to sit and be with God and listen, I feel no peace. I know God is present and He is with me, but my prayer does not consist of the warm, fluffy, and pleasurable effects that I would like to have or think ought to accompany consolation. There is an intolerable anxious energy and passion from within that I am trying to contain and channel. Never being pregnant or had a child, I feel as if I am pregnant with creative energy and that I have been waiting to give birth for several years.
I have been wrestling with willfulness, eagerness to be ahead of where I am in the present, thinking that waiting or simply being is laziness or a stifling lack of productivity. Lately, when people ask me how I am, or what is new in my life, I have a difficult time responding with nothing significant to say. Or I have the compulsive need to explain or defend myself for being more or less the same place as I was the last time. It makes me feel somewhat uninteresting or unimpressive, and that is quite agonizing for me. Why? I wonder. Why do I feel such an incessant need to be entertaining, impressive and exciting?
Perhaps from an early age, I learned that my parents felt good when I did things to make them proud, and it became a part of my identity. And perhaps, on some level, I learned my identity is in what I do, what I have to show for myself, and what I accomplished. In prayer, I realized that I am terrified how I might die with so many things left undone and people will say, “Look what she could have done...if only she tried harder...such wasted talent and energy.” Or even, “She was too afraid to go after her dreams, so she never reached them…” Now, I know this is the voice of the false spirit and not of my loving God. When I look up to God, His voice reassures me that I am where I am supposed to be, where He is calling me to be, and if He were inviting me to be somewhere else, He would put me there, open the doors and make way. I feel eager and ready for certain doors to be opened, but perhaps I am not quite ready yet.
This dysphoria of being where I am while I desire to be somewhere else is quite oppressive. I try to lean into it, but it is acutely uncomfortable for me. But whoever said that following God, or life in general, would be comfortable? I understand that as God invites me closer, I am drawn nearer to Jesus and the Way of the Cross. For me, sitting in what feels like a “waiting room” is one of my greatest challenges. But I do believe that God gives us each a cross that we are all able to handle so that we can grow more deeply and intimately with Him.
About six years ago, I graduated from college, full of potential and talent, eager to follow God’s will. But God led me into an extended waiting period. It took me a year and a half to find a full-time job. In that year and a half, I was like a little kid throwing a tantrum with God spiritually. I yelled at God, acted out at times, tried to push through, and go my own way. Throughout my life, up until the summer after college, it seemed I accomplished everything for myself, and God was cheering me on from the sidelines. I got good grades in high school, I got myself into college, and I got all my college jobs… I, I, I, me, me, me. Then I graduated and felt I deserved a good job. I worked hard and was entitled to one.
God used that year and a half to teach me humility and to purge a great deal of entitlement from my soul. He wanted to refocus my sight on Him and remind me of all the things brought into my life. Yes, I have an agency, and I can work hard, respond, be receptive to what God puts in my life, but ultimately, it is God who creates and allows for opportunity. I can choose to trust, or I can keep trying to make things happen in my own time and keep coming up against the grain.
Now, I recognize that I am in this familiar place. And I feel an invitation to remember how faithful God is and has been to His promises. God has come through before. And God always allows these times to deepen my metaphorical roots, before I can bear fruits. God allows these times of waiting to be a season for purgation, healing, deepening, purifying - even if it is painful. I am still struggling to be consoled, though I am spiritually consoled. Right now I am still a little kid throwing a tantrum. St. John of the Cross once reflected that God is like a loving mother, who wants to carry us where we want to go, and yet we flail about and cry, which makes it much harder for God to pick us up and take us there. And I see God looking at me with tenderness in my fit-throwing. God is patient. God knows I will tucker out, and God waits.
For reflection: Here's a scratch recording of a song I wrote a few years ago called, "Impatience."
Do I see "waiting" as a way of responding to God's invitation or being faithful? How might God be looking at me in my greatest suffering, struggles, impatience, and willfulness? Does this draw me out of restlessness and towards peace? Do I trust in the slow work of God even when I cannot see it?