I’ve never been very good at waiting. I was the child who conducted a full-on CSI-style Christmas gift investigation in the first weeks of December. Maybe it was a partial consequence of my Nancy Drew obsession and my new-found love of the Babysitter’s Club Mystery series, or maybe it was simply my lack of patience in light of the promise of all of the Christmas excitement to come (probably a little of both). Whatever the cause, each year, pen and detective notebook in hand, I put my sleuthing skills to the test by creeping around the house, keeping meticulous notes on which packages came in the mail on which day, where they were from, which wrapped packages appeared under the tree and what could be determined based on their size, shape, and (okay, I admit it) weight when I tenderly picked them up. I heard the warnings over and over: “You’ll ruin the surprise! It won’t be as fun on Christmas morning if you peek now!” but, yet, year after year, I found myself perched in my hide-out behind the couch, in full-view of the Christmas tree, jotting down notes in a desperate attempt to figure out what lie inside my mother’s perfectly wrapped packages.
I have since learned the value in holding out until Christmas morning, but I am still not very good at waiting. I am learning this especially now as I find myself in the midst of the “time in between.” The time in between college and camp. The time in between graduation and “the rest of my life.” The time in between moving home and embarking upon upcoming adventures in Denver. The time in between the familiar and the unknown. And right now I am smack-dab in the middle of it and as restless as can be.
There is certainly great beauty to be found in this in-between time. Rest. Restoration. Reading for fun. (Who knew there were still so many good books to read outside of text books and journal articles?!) Getting reacquainted with the piano. Re-forming the guitar callouses on my fingertips. Eating good food. Breathing. Simply being without having somewhere to go. Learning to walk slowly. (Still working on that one…it may take a while.) However, I just can’t shake that nagging feeling that even in these in-between weeks, I should somehow be doing more, being more, or at the very least, planning for the future.
I’ve always been a planner, which can be difficult for someone who has also always struggled with the concept of long-term goals and who has never had solid answers to the questions, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “Where do you see yourself in five/ten/twenty years?” I get nervous when anybody brings up the dreaded “vocation” and “discernment” words, which happens a lot when you attend a Lutheran liberal arts college. Yet, as a chronic planner and over-analyzer, I am constantly asking these same questions of myself. The day after I solidified my plans to volunteer with Urban Servant Corps for the coming year, I was back on the hunt for graduate programs and potential post-USC job opportunities. I want a detailed step-by-step plan for the next ten years, even though I know that I would probably change my mind six months into said plan anyway.
I know that participating in Urban Servant Corps will provide me with much-needed breathing room to more deeply explore the concept of vocation, to find those connections between faith and everyday life, and to somehow figure out how I fit into all of it. However, this knowledge does little to alleviate the restlessness I feel in the here and now. I want so desperately to be able to pick up my pen and detective notebook and hide out somewhere where I can catch a glimpse of the future and solve my own vocational mystery.
But, alas, that’s just not how life works (or so I’m told.) And to be honest, it’s probably much better that way. So, my personal challenge in the coming weeks is to ignore the voices telling me to do more, to be more, to plan more. To instead live fully in the present moment, getting swept up in time with family and in the ministry at camp. To turn off the nagging questions of “What’s next?” and “How am I going to get there?” and to simply trust that, for the time being, I am exactly where I need to be.
When have you experienced the “time in between?” Where have you seen God at work in the midst of periods of waiting?