There are moments in life when our adult bodies aren't so far removed from those of our childhood. It's as if there is another layer of self just beneath the surface, like what can be seen with the eyes is just a film coating a tinier reality. And the foot-stomping, door-slamming, yelling and screaming child wants it all RIGHT NOW! Trying to speak of an abstract concept like patience to that self is about as successful as embarking upon an introduction to the fiscal cliff or delineating the history of strife in the Middle East. All that it knows is RIGHT NOW, and instant gratification is demanded.
Perhaps being patient would be easier if there were guarantees. When I was waiting for God to send my husband to me, I used to assure him that I could be ever so much more patient if He would only assure me that I would in fact get married. Just the knowing would be comfort enough to get me through the waiting. But waiting without any certainties is a torment, especially to the child-self.
How am I any different than the child whose questions about when it will be lunch keep driving me mad? For him, the span of time between breakfast and lunch is an eternity. We must sound like that to God, making a speck of time a century and fussing over something that will occur in good time. We may grow up, but we rarely outgrow those longings, those needs, that imperative NOW NOW NOW! The funniest thing---often when we do get "it," we don't know what to do. We focused so much on the wanting that thoughts of application were never broached.
Would having had a guarantee that I would most definitely get married have made finding my husband any sweeter? Would I have learned as much, grown as much, and been as grateful? Not sure.
My outpourings of please please please and soon soon soon to God----do they sound the same as my prayers to find the person with whom I was meant to spend my life? I am sure He listened to those with lots of sighing, knowing full well He had a plan for me, wishing I would trust more. It's as if I can hear him saying, It will happen. All in good time. In my time. At the right time. Trust in me.
So why does it seem so unbelievable? Why so far-fetched? On my wedding day, right until the point I was actually entering the church, I kept exclaiming, "I can't believe this is happening! I can't believe this is really, actually, truly happening." My mother said, "You MUST stop saying that!" Why the disbelief? What was the source of the astonishment? That God would love me, too, among all the other people in this world? That He actually had a plan just for me? That something so longed for, prayed for, dreamed of could finally come true? And if something as complex, nuanced, and unbelievably important as two people falling in love could come to pass through His grace, why not something as simple as the sale of a house?
It will sell, I tell myself. God knows it. Oh, for stronger patience and renewed faith.
I walk through the park in this early spring and see the live oaks full of yellow sprays of pollen and pale young green leaves screaming of life and rebirth. They fill my soul with joy, with promise. Then I notice wrinkled brown leaves---just wrinkled brown leaves, no sign of life---on two of the live oaks. They are huge and magnificent and ages old, and I am immediately stricken with fear. I ask my husband if he thinks they are dead, and he says it certainly doesn't look good when all the other trees are flagrantly displaying life and renewal. A few days later, I return on my own for a walk of silent reflection, trying to set aside my anxiety and open my heart to spring. And I see it! I pull down my sunglasses, jerk them off entirely, just to be sure. There it is---the slightest, lightest green, a sign of new life emerging from beneath the brown, the old leaves already falling away to make room for the new. The trees are not dead. They are being reborn, just like their neighbors, only a little later than the others. I regretted my walk by those trees, thinking them dead, doubting their viability. I should have looked at them and said, "All in God's time. They may be brown now, but one day they will be green. Just a little more time and a bit more patience. Nothing lasts forever."
There is fruit on the tree, new life growing all around us. We might be waiting now, but we won't always be. Though we might feel like a little child, like NOW is all there is and all there ever will be, when we look back on our lives and all He has done for us, we just know that isn't so. Though green today, the fruit will ripen and be ready. That fig tree had never borne fruit for Him, but He gave it another chance. He was patient, and He believed.