Tag Archives: trust

On Periods of Waiting

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On Periods of Waiting

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. -Proverbs 3:5-6

Have you heard that phrase – that obnoxious phrase – oh I hate it – “When God closes a door, he opens a window?” Man, I hate it.

I hate it because it is untrue and intended to comfort people. Don’t be comforted by stuff that isn’t true!!! That’s false comfort, and it doesn’t come from God. We are comforted by God, but if it is from Him, it has to be true. So here’s the truth:

“Sometimes God closes the doors. And He closes the windows. And you have to wait. And He’s still good.”

This whole concept of waiting is not new to me, and I bet it isn’t new to you either. We’re always waiting for something. One of my best friends has been waiting for almost a whole year for her house to finish being built. She’s made decision after decision after decision, dreaming and hoping and waiting and waiting for them to finish. She was finally able to move in, but they still aren’t done, so she’s still waiting a bit for those finishing touches. I have a very close friend who hasn’t been able to have any children, and she aches for that greatly. She is hoping and dreaming and waiting and waiting. My sister would love the chance to purchase a bigger home so that there is ample room for visitors, but it isn’t time yet, so she’s waiting. I am waiting for something, too, and I honestly just don’t get why it hasn’t happened for me yet. It makes totally logical sense for it to happen, and only good can come of it happening. So why hasn’t it happened yet? Will it ever happen?

This is what trusting God is.

It’s waiting and waiting forever for something you hope for, something exciting, something wonderful, depending on God to give it to you, and being content even though you don’t have it yet.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. -Psalm 13

I think one of the funniest things about the Christian life is patience. It’s this odd thing that we are so good at in some ways and so bad at in others. Like for example, I am so patient with kids, especially obnoxious ones. I can deal with them all day without ever losing it. I’ve had a lot of practice doing this, so I’ve gotten pretty good at it. And also, God has taught me that it is imperative to be patient with those kids, because they learn so much from my example of patience. But then I turn around in the very same day, and I get so frustrated that I don’t have the extra money to get new carpet in my living room right now. I mean, it is horrible, horrible carpet. Anyone will tell you how stained and gross it is. I bet my friends are grossed out to walk on it. It is just the worst. But we don’t have the extra money for it right now, so the answer is no. And I start to act like a baby toward God, like all whiny and obnoxious, and I go, “God! Why? Why can’t I just have new carpet? Why can’t I just have nice things? WHYYYYYYY? GRRRRRR.” This is a silly example, but a totally realistic one. Why is it so easy for me to trust God that my students need my patience but I can’t trust God to provide for me?

Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.” -Psalm 27:14

Being the ever-loving musician that I am, I always come up with song lyrics first in these situations. I think of “God is God and I am not, I can only see a part of the picture he’s painting, God is God and I am man, I will never understand it all, for only God is God” by Steven Curtis Chapman, “When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, when you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through, when you don’t give the answers when I cry out to you, I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you” by Lauren Daigle, “can’t imagine what the future holds, but I’ve already made my choice, and this is where I stand until He moves me on, and I will listen to His voice” by Twila Paris, “thy will be done, thy will be done, thy will be done” by Jesus in the bible and also Hillary Scott’s lyrics (this is an amazing song, oh my word).

I know what is true in these situations. I’m waiting for something because God’s timing is better than mine. He knows what He is doing, and I don’t. I can’t understand it, but I choose to wait for Him to tell me where to go. He has a better reason than I know. He sees the whole picture, but I only see part. So then I try to apply that knowledge, because I’m always the logical one. But God, it doesn’t make any sense that I’m not getting this thing that I want! Everything points to the fact that I should get it. Why isn’t it as clear to everyone else as it is to me? I mean, seriously, I’m a whiny baby. I’m like the two-year-old screaming over fruit snacks in the grocery store (is this anyone else’s normal life right now? Anyone?) because I can’t understand why I can’t immediately rip open all the boxes and have them right this minute!

So I think the key here is that I need to find some contentment. Trusting God is the same thing as contentment. We will never be content on our own, because we will always want more. We will always want to fill ourselves with something else. My heart is unsteady, always flitting and floating to whatever new thing brings it pleasure, always forgetting the greatest pleasure is complete and restful trust. And it seems that with trust comes the waiting. I live in this strange collision of waiting and living. I mean, after all, even Dumbledore knew, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” I’m waiting for these things that I’m hoping and praying for, but I’m trying to make sure I’m living the life Jesus wants to me to live at the same time.

I can’t help but think of Harry Potter in this. I mean, y’all know Harry Potter is my boy. But seriously, that Dumbledore quote above is from Philosopher’s Stone (that’s Sorcerer’s Stone for all you fake, half-hearted fan people)(okay, sorry, that was harsh) when Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised, which shows him his heart’s desire. The tragedy of Harry’s vision is that he seems himself surrounded by his family, all of whom have died. So Harry’s greatest dream, his absolute heart’s desire, is something that can never be. When I was like 11 and read this, I didn’t think anything of it really, except the normal 11-year-old “oh boy that’s sad, no wonder he wants to sit here and stare at this all the time.” But as an adult, this pierces my soul a whole new way. How many dreams are my heart’s desire than I can never have? Or, more importantly, from a faith standpoint, how many dreams are my heart’s desire that aren’t God’s heart’s desire for me? Am I sitting around waiting for something, staring into my own personal Mirror of Erised, wasting my life away because my dream isn’t something I can have? And then I next think of One Tree Hill (oh yeah, I’m a major fangirl), which doesn’t really teach Christian principles very much, but I remember this episode where Nathan decided to tell everyone that he point shaved in the playoffs even though it was going to cost him his basketball scholarship. He tells Haley something like, “The people I respect the most are those who got up and went on with their lives when their dreams were dead, and went out and found a new dream.” Nathan had accepted that he needed to do the right thing even if it resulted in losing his entire life’s dream. There is great strength in the willingness to do that.

I think about this for me and my life: what if I never get what I want? What if this perfectly logical thing that I greatly desire never happens for me? Will I be okay with that? Will I be able to trust God if He doesn’t move the mountain I want Him to move? Will I be okay if the answer to my fervent prayers is “no?”

My friend Ellie writes a blog, and she posted this meme on hers that said, “And if not, He is still good.” This is the key! While I’m waiting, I need to pray within God’s will.

“Your will be done, God. I want this very much, and it makes perfect sense that I should get it. But if not, You are still good. I trust you. I won’t waste my life hoping for a yes when I’ve gotten a clear no. I won’t harbor bitterness or resentment because of that no. You are good to me.”

I have this absolute favorite album. It’s “Fortunate Fall” by Audrey Assad. That chick can write some music, y’all. Seriously. This album gets me through my day. It is so full of subtle wisdom and amazing lines that I could meditate on all day long. So I’m going to close this gab-fest of semi-random thoughts with the lyrics to one of the songs:

I put all my hope in the truth of Your promise
And I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness
When I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joyBecause You are good to me, good to me

I lift up my eyes to the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night – raise my head up to hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me I will praise You, my God
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me, good to me

Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise
cause you’re good. Good to me.

Parents-in-Law

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(I feel like I should start this post with the disclaimer that this post in no way demeans my relationship with my actual parents, who are truly wonderful human beings and who I love dearly and am endlessly thankful for. I wanted, however, to focus a post on my awesome parents-in-law because I know that my love for them is not average or regular. They are awesome, and I want to share some wisdom they have gifted upon me.)

Okay, so I’m sitting at my parents-in-law’s house (is that the proper grammar? Who knows?) at 11:00 on a Tuesday night, and my husband is not here. How many people do you know who feel comfortable bringing their two kids for a day and overnight without their husband to spend it with their parents-in-law? Not many that I know. But I have the greatest parents-in-law on the face of the earth. My parents-in-law have basically adopted me as their actual child. They love me unconditionally. They treat me like a queen. They are endlessly supportive and wonderful and kind and loving and seriously – how many people do you know who can say this?

I think it goes without saying (although I am going to say it anyway) that the typical parent-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is sort of coined as strained. Daughters-in-law love to slam on their mothers-in-law as overbearing, hurtful, judgmental, etc. Mothers-in-law love to slam on their daughters-in-law as not good enough, ungrateful, rude, etc. But the relationship does not have to be this way. I think the great relationship I have with my parents-in-law comes from both sides. Here, I’m going to give some tips based on my relationship with my parents-in-law for cultivating a great relationship with your in-laws for both the child-in-law in question and the parent-in-law in question. (I feel like I should add here that our relationship isn’t perfect, just like all relationships. Sin enters the picture and makes us get frustrated with each other sometimes, and we don’t always treat each other the way I’m about to outline here, although we do try and succeed the vast majority of the time.)

Child-in-Law, Do These:

Respect them.
When I look at my parents-in-law, I see people who truly love Christ. I see amazing wisdom and value. I see an opportunity to grow and get better because they are in my life. And I treat them like this. I ask them for advice and then listen as they give guidance. I talk to them about my faith and my struggles. I speak to them in a respectful tone regardless of how I’m feeling at that moment. Letting them know that they are respected goes a long way. I make sure that they’ll never think of me as ungrateful.

Treasure them.
Love is a choice. Love is action. I choose that no matter what happens, I love them. These people raised my husband. They made him kind, gentle, compassionate, merciful, hopeful, friendly, caring, strong, smart, etc, etc, etc. They made him that way! They contributed to his fun quirks and his good looks. They taught him to love Jesus first. They taught him to work hard for his family. I think a lot of people blame their parents-in-law for the frustrating things about their spouses, but they forget that they fell in love with their amazing spouse for his/her great attributes in the first place! I can easily treasure my parents-in-law when I look at the wonderful attributes in my husband because they put those attributes there in so many ways! I treasure that they love one another so deeply. They demonstrate long-lasting love, which is something that my husband and I strive for. They unconditionally love each other, and we get to see it whenever we are with them. What a treasure that is! Recognizing the gifts/treasures that your parents-in-law are to you is one of the first steps in having a healthy relationship with them.

Look at them as family.
When I look at my parents-in-law, I see relatives. They aren’t random people who I’ve been thrown into life with. Dumping them out is not an option. In fact, it would be a travesty for my husband and for my children, who need their grandparents in their life. With family, you get annoyed and frustrated sometimes (often, lots of the time!). But the key with family is love without condition! You don’t stop loving your own mom when she’s being obnoxious. You don’t stop loving your sister or your cousin. With family, we often shove aside irritating features, or shrug them off, because they are our family and we love them no matter how crazy or messed up they are. My parents-in-law are easy to love, which is, from what I understand, different than with other people. But even in those times when they are less easy to love because of frustration or dumb irritations, they are still my family. And family means that nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten. Oh, man, I started quoting Lilo & Stitch. But you get the point. You don’t abandon family. You work through it. You love in spite of it. If you view your parents-in-law as family instead of random people you’ve been forced to bear throughout life, there will be an underlying sense of commitment present, much like the underlying sense of commitment to your actual blood family that helps you to love them even when you sometimes want to punch them in their faces. This underlying commitment inspires you to love first.

Trust them.
As mentioned above, my parents-in-law just cannot be all that bad because they created and raised the man that I love more than any other person. They made him who he is. If they were able to raise him (and his sister, who is possibly the most wonderful person on the planet), then surely they are trustworthy. Surely, their ideas about raising our children must be okay even when they are different from mine. Surely, their driving is okay, because both their kids were driven around for years without any signs of terrible car accidents at their fault. Surely, their method of budgeting or cleaning or dealing with a difficult person can be trusted, because they have used what God has given them well and their house is always presentable and their children have excellent character. I trust them, and I will listen and try to apply their ideals with humility if they are presented to me.

Treat your spouse well, both behind their backs and especially in front of them.
One of the best ways that you can show love to your spouse’s family is in the way you treat your spouse. I could write another whole post about this, but the brief version is that our society tends to make husbands look dumb and wives look like b-words. The wife is always annoyed and nagging. The husband is always too stupid to do anything right. Both are kind of miserable forever and that’s just how life is supposed to be. This is ridiculous, and life doesn’t have to be like this! For me, this means not spending any time talking about my husband negatively. Sometimes I joke about how he won’t pick up his socks, or I kid around about him being a slob. Sometimes his mom and I bond over how he doesn’t notice or care that the lawn looks horrible and how this baffles us. But this silliness is not disrespect. I am careful to point out my husband’s good qualities and how they compliment his parents’ character much, much more often than I joke around about his not-so-amazing qualities. This has to be done genuinely; don’t be a suck-up and make up false things. But seriously, smack-talking your spouse in front of his/her parents is not going to make them like you better, and it is not going to change those behaviors that irritate you about your spouse, so it really serves no useful purpose except making you look like a jerk. Speak kindly of your spouse. Find genuine, honest, real things that you love about him/her, and point those out in front of his/her parents. It really makes a difference! They will appreciate that you love their kid, and you will actually start to appreciate those nice things about your spouse more because you are focusing on them. Moneyback guarantee, seriously, it works.

But what about…

Maybe you are the parent-in-law reading this, and you are thinking, “Well, sure, but my daughter-in-law is a little brat who doesn’t treat me like that and doesn’t feel that way about me!” Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you choose to look at it), Jesus doesn’t call us to treat others the way we are actually treated. He calls us to treat others the way we want to be treated. He even goes further to say that you should turn the other cheek, give them your coat as well, go two miles instead of one, etc. In other words, don’t just treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat them better than you want to be treated. I hate to say it because it can be hard to hear, but the truth is, if you are the parent-in-law, you have the responsibility as the parent-figure to treat your child-in-law well no matter how he/she treats you. And I bet/absolutely guarantee that treating your child-in-law well will make a wonderful long-term difference in the way he/she treats you.

Parent-in-Law, Do These:

Treasure them.
As a daughter-in-law to amazing parents-in-law, I have to say that this is the biggest one to me. My parents-in-law make it clear that they not only love me, they treasure me. They value me. They like me. They think I’m funny and cute and clever. They laugh at my jokes and make me feel important. They think I’m smart. They acknowledge how hard I work. They let me know that I’m doing okay at this mom thing. They celebrate my joys and grieve my sadness. I matter to them. It’s like I’m their own kid or something!

Look at them as family.
There has never been a single day of my relationship with my husband where I’ve felt like I was worth less than him. They have adopted me just like I’m their own kid. They have accepted me into their home at any time. They have listened to me and guided me like my own parents do. They have helped me through tricky times and awkward situations. They have put up with crap from me to a certain extent and then called me out when I got out of hand. They have come to help. They have dropped everything to watch my kids so I could go to an appointment. They helped me for weeks after my kids were each born. They give us food and help us in times of trouble. These are things you do with family. These aren’t things you do with just anyone off the street. Now, you could argue that some of this is just because they were helping out their son and I am married to him so I got the good deal from that, but it’s more than that. I am included. Those decisions to help and that advice was for me, too, not just for my husband. I matter to them, and I know it because they have invested in my life individually AND in my life with my husband.

Trust them.
My parents-in-law do not ever make me feel badly about myself. I am good enough for their son! I know this because they tell me this! They point out the qualities in my character that are good for their son. They point out the ways we compliment each other. They point out why he needs me. As mentioned above, they tell me how good I am as a parent. They are kind and complimentary, and I know that they trust me with their treasures – their son and grandchildren. There is an ever-present understanding that our presence in each others’ lives is good for us and makes us better.

I understand that the relationship I have with my parents-in-law (like sitting here on their desktop computer in my father-in-law’s office typing at now-11:48pm when my husband is on a business trip in Chicago) is not normal and not easy to cultivate. I really believe, though, that if both parties put forth effort to see the great things about each other, the relationships can become a treasure. I am truly thankful for my parents-in-law, and there is never any doubt of this. Lots of times, people that know my husband’s family say things to me like, “Boy, you sure hit the jackpot with what you married in to!” and I couldn’t agree more.