“Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting.”
“When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.”
“Maturity includes the recognition that no one is going to see anything in us that we don't see in ourselves. Stop waiting for a producer. Produce yourself.”
Imagine any event from my past, one that didn’t go well, one I didn’t handle well. Perhaps I lost my temper, or became afraid, or fell into depression. It’s in the past now and I survived it. If I could go back, knowing what I know now, would I handle it differently? Did I need to become angry, afraid, or depressed? Were those my best choices?
Now imagine that scene again. What if I handled it differently? What if I had said no to something I didn’t want? What if I just said a silent prayer of compassion for someone who hurt or angered me? What if I didn’t give into fear, panic, or depression, because I knew it would all work out eventually, one way or the other?
When I look at my life, when I look at this moment, sitting in the chair reserved for my Muse and me, is there anything in my life that hasn’t ultimately worked out for my good? Yes, I’ve been through difficulty and pain. I’ve made mistakes and hurt people. I’ve made bad decisions. I’ve waited to long to take action. But ultimately, ultimately, everything has worked out.
Look at all the times I got nervous, worried, or even paralyzed with fear. How did those times end? Usually they ended with me discovering the thing that worried me wasn’t even real. I had made it all up in my mind.
There was one time that didn’t happen.
I once felt I had been called by God to serve as an English teacher in China. A representative from the organization, Mike, had been calling me for several weeks and we had had some nice conversations. At first I resisted. But then I began to feel that this was God’s plan for me. I began making preparations. I told my friends. I started learning about China. Things started falling into place. One of the application requirements was to get a physical. When I told my doctor what I was doing, he recommended I learn about the dynasties. That week I found a book about the dynasties. The day after I made my decision, I got a postcard from someone in China who said, “I heard you were thinking about coming to China. Please do! We need you!”
It felt like God’s call. I sent my applications and my paperwork and I waited.
I didn’t hear anything. Not for weeks. Not. One. Word.
The more I waited, the more I felt a gnawing dread, which soon turned into depression. I remember sitting in a bar because my roommate was playing with his band. He was singing Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
I listened to that song and became increasingly depressed, dreading that I would be swimming in my same old fishbowl and that my hopes for teaching in China would be dashed.
After waiting for weeks, I called the organization. Mike wasn’t there. Instead I spoke with some fellow who seemed angry and irritated that I was bothering him. He said I hadn’t been chosen, but he didn’t say why. I remember that moment. It was a Monday around 5:00 p.m. I just walked around in a daze, not knowing what I was supposed to do with my life now. I felt completely lost. I also felt humiliated because I had told so many people I was going to China. Now I wasn’t and I didn’t even know why.
A few days later, on a Friday, I wandered around aimlessly, just trying to get through my day. I found a comic book, Green Lantern #1, in which Hal Jordan, (Green Lantern’s real identity) leaves his life to go on the road and find himself. That’s what I wanted to do, but now I couldn’t. That night someone chastised me severely, after I was joking with her, saying, “You have no manners! That’s why you didn’t go to China!” I cried and cried.
I stayed lost for quite a while. But I also made some new friends. And while I didn’t go on the road, I made some major changes in my life and I began to find myself. I began to find God’s call for that season of my life. It required some major changes, but eventually I began smiling again.
It all worked out.
Looking back, if I knew then what I know now, I would view my rejection to China with relief. I would have said, “Thank you, God!” I wouldn’t have become depressed or discouraged. Instead I would have wondered what was next. I thought I was ready to go to China, but I wasn’t. Perhaps the call to China was only a wake up call. There were things in my life that needed healing, but they couldn’t happen where I was. I didn’t need to go to China, but I needed to go to the next town, literally. I needed to start my life over. And I did. And it all worked out.
Interestingly, a few months after my rejection from China, when my life was completely different, I received a phone call from Mike. He apologized for what had happened. He said the decision wasn’t his, but the board’s decision, and that this was the only time he fought the board. I felt redeemed. He believed I was supposed to have gone.
Maybe I was, but I had made my peace about it. It had all worked out.
So as I sit here, waiting and working for my Muse, for my house on the beach, I know that it will all work out. The worst that could happen, if it does, will turn out for my best. But this time as I wait, there’s no gnawing dread. Instead, I know it’s just a matter of time, the right time. I just need to keep waiting and keep working. I can be joyful. I can be patient. I can wait for the good. I will reach my goals this time. I need to Get Started and Keep Going…and eventually, it will all work out.