Waiting is …..
Waiting is not my choice. I don’t want it, I don’t accept it. I rail against it.
I don’t want to wait.
I want answers now. I want research findings, treatments, a cure. I want vindication and I want respect. And I don’t want to wait.
But waiting is one of those frustrating things … you don’t have a choice. I can’t make the answers come any sooner. I can’t change the world – or at least I can’t change it overnight. It takes time. It takes work. It takes perseverance. It takes patience and diligence. And so it means waiting.
To me waiting is such a passive, powerless word.
I think maybe that is why I hate it so much. I feel so utterly powerless, and have done in so many deeply painful ways in my life, and so I hate anything that tastes of that.
I am also afraid of my powerlessness. I try to hide it, to keep safe by appearing powerful, but I can’t. It is writ large on my life and it leaves me vulnerable and afraid.
And I hate myself for my powerlessness. I look at myself and I see a pathetic person. I have no compassion; I bring calamity on myself by being so weak. This is what a lifetime of abuse and disdain does to a person. My rage turns inward.
I hate passivity. I hate the accusation of it that comes at you as a person who has ME. You are passive, lazy, paralysed by fear, giving in, embracing and choosing this comatose life.
I am not passive. Nobody who has ME is passive. We may not be able to do a lot as others understand it, but we are fighters. We wade through more shit everyday than most of the naysayers can conceive of. And we keep going and keep fighting and I’m so proud of the community that is standing up and saying enough. We are activists from our sickbeds. We may be still, but we are not passive.
Do I sound defensive? Because I am. I have to be. That’s why I hate passivity, because I’m accused of it every day that I am not vindicated.
And yet I am also a survivor of childhood abuse. A naturally proactive person, passivity has been burnt into me as a survival mechanism. Don’t enrage the beast and you might get through this day unscathed. I am drawn towards the comfort and the oblivion that it provides, and I detest myself for it.
I am a powerless and passive, raging, rampaging Lion. I am all these things. I am impossible. And I must wait.
I want a resolution to the impossibility of all that I am. To be able to integrate the parts of me. To make peace with myself, and with my circumstances – not to give into them, but to accept that this is now.
I want to experience my powerlessness in the arms of my loving God, to feel the safety of that place, that doesn’t promise a life free from pain but from despair; a life in which I am not abandoned and will not be overcome.
I want to be able to rest in His loving embrace and leave behind the frenetic activity that is my defense against the accusation ‘you did this’. To know that I am known and believed by the only one who’s opinion counts.
I want this now, too. I don’t want to wait.
But healing and growth take time. They take courage and perseverance, the nurture of seasons to make them strong and fruitful. And I must wait.
Really waiting is not passive or powerless at all. It takes courage to wait. Waiting is believing in the ending. Believing for the change. It is hope lived out.
If dawn is never coming, you aren’t waiting, you are hopeless.
I don’t know how to wait. It is an art I believe, to truly … wait. It is a bittersweet mystery of life, that waiting, and the deprivation that it inevitably includes, is the birthplace of hope and of faith, which brings us life in all it’s fullness.
A paradox indeed.
I have 4 year old twin girls, and this year we have discovered an unexpected first. This Christmas is the first time they can remember the previous one, and look forward to what is coming. They are living their first Advent.
They have been so excited about Christmas for so long. As soon as the weather started to turn autumnal, they began to ask me, ‘is it winter yet?’ by which they mean, ‘is it Christmas yet? is it soon?’
Now that December has arrived and the first door of the advent calendar is opened, they are told again and again that it’s Christmas! It’s here! … just 24 days away! An unimaginable length of time when you are just 4.
Trees and lights appear in shop windows and on neighbours houses. Christmas music begins to play and everyone is talking as if it’s arrived. For us it is just around the corner, blink and we’ll be there. But when you’re 4, the wait is long and hard and can seem that it will never end. There are still no presents, no arrival, no completion, no fulfillment of all that longing. I can see them wondering if it will ever really come, and even if it does will they live to see it come. It is unbearable, but bear it they must. Wait they must.
Strangely I’ve always loved Advent. The preparations, the excitement, the longing. The waiting. I suppose this is waiting that hasn’t felt passive or powerless. You decorate the house, the tree; you buy and wrap presents; plan and prepare the food, all the while the anticipation and the longing mounts. The waiting is full of preparation and joy at what will come. The more you long for Christmas day, the sweeter it will be when you wake that morning, the delicious weight of a full stocking at the foot of your bed.
I’ve always been intrigued by it too. Drawn to the hints of the greater waiting, the greater Advent that we are living in. The one that feels so elusive at times and yet is my sure and certain hope. I plunge myself deep into the experience of Advent, of joyous waiting, in the hope that it will mirror into the greater waiting that it promises everyone who wants it and that I find so very hard to live and to understand.
And so this Advent, as I struggle with the waiting of ME and of injustices that are being fought, and answers that are being searched for and wholeness that is to come. As the waiting without end that this illness and my own personal struggles often seem to be, and that have threatened to overwhelm me this last year, I look to Advent again. I look to this one experience of waiting … of hope … that has been life giving and not soul destroying, and I emerse myself again in the hope that experiencing it may do more for me than figuring it out. At this time of year I can seem to be heart first instead of head first, and I think that’s what I need – to experience it, more than to understand it. To relearn what waiting is, what it can be, and to grow and heal in the bittersweetness of it.
I will always want that day to come. The dawn of hope satisfied, for ME, for an unbroken heart, for my soul that longs for him face to face. All of my waiting is painful. It is excruciating. It is hard. Every day I want to say with my girls, ‘how many days? what does that mean? when will it come?’ And every day my heart will cry out for satisfaction. But in the waiting I must learn to make preparation, to let anticipation and excitement mount. To find a way to live in the certainty that it is coming, and it will be sweet. Because that is waiting; real, true waiting that is not despair. It is not desperate, lost, powerless or passive. It is sure, resolute and eager. It is Hope. And it is short. It feels interminable, but blink and we’ll be there.
Our day will come. My day will come. Each Advent door that we open is one day closer and when it arrives, it will be sweet and we will be ready.