Friday, November 5, 2010

Playing Go Fish While I Wait

I cried in chapel on Wednesday. Nothing new. However, it was new that I turned to see the girl next to me wiping her eyes. Excited to find a fellow crier, I tapped her shoulder, pointed to my tear-soaked cheeks and whispered, "me too." She looked confused. Then she saw the tears and said, "Oh. No. I just had something in my eye." I blushed and she giggled the rest of chapel.

I cry easily and probably was thee only person that cried because of the skit the drama class performed but it was so clearly God whispering to me that of course I cried. In the skit four kids stood in line looking irritated and impatient. Enter Blake. Blake is one of those students you never forget. He says off-the-wall comments and often appears to be living in another world. Last year I told him he couldn't eat in class but he said he only had one more bite and then he dropped his entire lunch on the carpet. Salmon salad. What high school kid brings salmon salad to lunch? It smelled for days. He is quite intelligent and wrote an incredibly entertaining story personifying a french fry and big mac as well as a poem about a suicidal clown that made me cry. I know- surprise, surprise. Needless to say, when Blake galloped up the steps onto stage, the whole school tried to suppress a giggle. "Oh boy, what goofy line is he going to say?" But he didn't say anything goofy. He said something remarkably insightful. And then he pulled out a deck of cards and asked his annoyed classmates if they wanted to play Speed or Go Fish. He went on to enlighten his classmates and remind me that while we "wait in line" for God to answer prayers, we can rejoice because (A) we know He has our best interests in mind and (B) He hasn't said "No" yet. Thus, we can be hopeful and ENJOY the time "waiting" with the right attitude. Cue my tears.

Some days it feels like I've been WAITING for answered prayers for too long- longer than it seems others have to wait. But Blake reminded me that I should drop my "irritable, impatient demeanor" and simply rejoice in today and play cards. Relish the moment. While I wait for answers from God about my future, I can simply relax and enjoy the present.

Ever the dense student, God has had to pound this into my head lately. The skit wasn't the first time He reminded me of my need to trust His plans and live TODAY.

My friends and I read Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning and one chapter was devoted to the topic of living in the present or what he calls "Nowhere." Here were a few lines that struck a cord with me:

Being fully present in the now is perhaps the premier skill of the spiritual life. (a skill I desperately need to hone)

Preoccupation with the yesterdays and tomorrows of life to the neglect of now/here- Nowhere- is not living at all. When my mind is replaying past glories and defeats or imagining unknown tomorrows, the music of what is happening is muted. ( I've always thought it would be cool to have a life soundtrack- how terrible to realize there is one but I have it on mute by focusing on yesterdays and tomorrows)

It is through immersion in the ordinary- the apparently empty, trivial, and meaningless experiences of a routine day that life is encountered and lived. Real living is not about words, concepts, and abstractions but about experience of who or what is immediately before us. (I've been trying to consciously practice living in the moment. The other day this quote came to mind as I got ready for school and I giggled as I focused intently on tying my shoe. Never had such a great lookin bow.)

To live in the present moment requires profound trust that the abundant life Jesus promised is experienced only in Nowhere. (As much as I day dream about it, I cannot time travel and cannot experience this abundant life while thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.)

The effort to free ourselves from concerns and the willingness to put aside fuzzy distractions involves a kind of death in order to take up the cross of the present moment. (I've never imagined living in the present to be "taking up the cross" but I do see how "fuzzy distractions" have hindered me from enjoying the present, from sitting down and playing a game of Speed while I wait for God to answer prayers.)

Wednesday was a day of enlightenment for me for another reason. Girls' bible study happens during lunch on Wednesdays and this year I have a remarkably silly group of freshmen girls. I love it. I'm often shushing them as they giggle for a good majority of the lunch but they plan days like "high five day", "headband day", or my personal favorite, "talk like a man day." Here we are on headband day:
Of course we took a goofy one:
I love being around them because I'm reminded of the childlike innocence we're called to have. They aren't "too cool for school" or jaded yet and though they are plagued by worries and insecurities, for the most part, they still have a childlike faith. I love Wednesdays because I am reminded why God has me here- these girls are 15 reasons. On this particular Wednesday, it was Nettie whom God used to speak to me.

This girl is mature beyond her years. When I asked them if they had prayers that God had answered, "Wait," most of the girls talked about wanting a boyfriend. But sweet little Nettie rose her hand and explained, "I just want God to show me how to live His will for my life. I'm afraid I'll get off that path and I want so badly to stay on course." She's 14 and she blew me away. Part of the reason her comment made my jaw drop was because the very night before I watched this on-line sermon by Andy Stanley. He heavily emphasized the importance of praying the following prayer:

"God, show me your will for my life."

So when Nettie nearly quoted him word for word, you can see why I was a bit shocked. I know it wasn't coincidental. I've started praying this prayer daily. Not that He would show me the future but that He would show me His will for me TODAY. It is changing how I live, and not just because I'm focusing more as I double- knot my laces. It's making me aware of my purpose so I don't just "get by" but rather, embrace each day- even the mundane ones. I seek His will in the midst of the "ordinary" days and it's making ordinary days much more enjoyable.

I recently discovered Pandora. I know- I'm not sure how it escaped my notice the past few years and I had a slightly embarrassing moment when I gushed to people about this new website I found. Today a song I never heard played and it made me laugh. God knows I need lots of reminders. Here are some of the lyrics:

I'm waiting on you Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will SERVE you
While I'm waiting
While I'm waiting
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

This is the song playing on repeat on my "life soundtrack" right now- I'm trying not to mute it. At the end of the skit in chapel, Blake recited the following well-known verses which took on new meaning for me:

Even youths grow tired and weary, (of waiting)
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who HOPE in the LORD
will renew their strength. (strength to live in the present moment)
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (as they seek God's will for their life)
Isaiah 40: 30-31

1 comment:

  1. I struggle with this daily as well. I'm a better watcher than live(r). I sometimes think that my strength/weakness of being a writer is that I don't experience the live performance of life nearly as well as my rebroadcast. I love Brennan as well and try, try to make make myself stay present, not a little out in front, imagining or a little behind, rehashing or recording. It's an important battle that I don't take up often enough.

    I made an "innocent" comment in front of a few students (as we watched a fabulous nature oriented TED video) about how one day I would love to write for National Geographic or something of the like. One very bright student who is a far more talented writer than I, said to me, "Mrs. Sullivan, why do you do this? Why do you stay here? You could be..." She meant it as a complement to my passion and relative skill. But I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me, "They see your absence, the ways your are more somewhere future in your hope than here."
    I felt very dared to hope and commit the full presence of my person anew, whether it seems to matter or not.

    I appreciate the good words, the reminder via you as well.