About an hour ago, I walked back into my house for the first time in 12 days. There’s just something about coming home after a time away that makes me instantly relax and do that big inward sigh of “yes.” It’s the feeling of stillness and just being home. Soon after that initial feeling however, I went out to the garden and felt something completely different. In less than two weeks, weeds were taking over the garden, and the tomatoes were ripe and falling off the vine. Just 12 days. It’s crazy how much happens when you’re away for even just a short time. I was reminded once again that there is growing in the waiting.
After harvesting the tomatoes and pulling some weeds, I was back in the house. On the table was a letter from Penguin Random House welcoming their new authors. Nine years ago, I wrote a book for North Light Media whose parent company (F +W) was just acquired by PRH. My book, Creative Bloom was an incredible experience, because I had never even dreamed of writing a book, and also because so many people came alongside me to make it happen. Because they had faith in me, it was easier for me to have faith in me.
When the Start Becomes the End.
When my book proposal got the green light for publication my husband and I were sure it was the start of something big that God had planned. The entire process was OVER THE TOP – the initial communications with North Light’s acquisitions editor (amazing!), the trip to Cincinnati, OH for the photo shoot, and the moment we got the advance copies. It was a dream come true.
And then it was done. There were some things that came from it – a local book signing and a national conferences where people knew me. I was tapped to teach at the International Quilt Festival down in Houston the next year. But the sales of the book were not strong and we were left wondering what God’s plan had been. Instead of being the start of everything, I was left a year later with what felt like the end of it all.
How to Know You’re Waiting
I was in a waiting. Sometimes you can tell you’re in a waiting simply because there isn’t an obvious next thing. Sometimes you just don’t feel like you’ve gotten the go from God.
Because I had been so sure of my go last time, the lack of that feeling was all I needed to stay where I was. Being in a waiting time doesn’t mean you don’t do anything. You’re merely staying in place. I did bulletin boards at my son’s school, volunteered in the classroom, and decorated the teacher’s lounge. There was still my Etsy shop and some magazine articles. But nothing was the next thing. So I prayed, waited, and basically tread water.
Waiting is Staying.
The article “God is Working in Your Waiting“, by Jade Mazarin calls out that our initial response to waiting is often anger or doubt. In the article Mazarin references theologian John Piper when he writes, “Or, by God’s grace, we can choose to wait as he intends. Waiting on the Lord is the opposite of running ahead of the Lord, and it’s the opposite of bailing out on the Lord. It’s staying at your appointed place while he says stay, or it’s going at his appointed pace while he says go. It’s not impetuous, and it’s not despairing.”
There are Seasons to Go and Seasons to Stay.
Just about two years after I received my advance copies of my book, I was contacted by a local artist. She ran a non-profit creativity ministry that was just a couple of miles from where I lived.
I know, right? How crazy providential was that? Our kids went to the same school and we didn’t know it. That was the start of our friendship, but it was also the end of that waiting time. The next six years was completely invested in that ministry, first as the product development lead and then as the Creative Director. As we grew as a ministry, I felt certain that THIS was what God had made me for.
And then that season ended unexpectedly, and I was waiting again.
Was it Your Plan or God’s Plan?
How many of you, I wonder, feel like you’re in the midst of a waiting time? Do you recognize it as that? Or do you feel stuck where you are and doubt that anything will ever change?
Maybe your forward momentum came to an abrupt halt when your second child was born. Or maybe it stopped when you decided to take time off to help the family business. You may feel like you’ve walked away from your own dreams, and everything you were before is just wasted. In a season of growing and building, we are often so sure that God has a plan. When nothing seems to come of it, or the plan falls apart you may feel grief and even some betrayal. I know that, because I’ve felt both. If that happens we may need to question if what we had anticipated happening was our plan or God’s plan. Given time, I realized I had done exactly that – guessed at what God was going to do and decided that was the plan.
Growing in the Waiting
I want to assure you that there is growth in the waiting. The volunteer time I spent at my son’s school, after my book was published, introduced me to many of the friends I have today. I also started to make art for myself again and began to take mixed media art classes as well as teach locally. I was able to rest and relax into my role as a mother and wife again.
God was active in the waiting time in a way I didn’t recognize until much later. This last year was spent trying to find a healthy balance for both myself and my family. It was time I needed to try new things, and because I wasn’t working, I had the time to pursue new avenues of health and wellness. Again, God was growing me in the waiting. Is God growing you somehow that you just don’t see?
Waiting is Preparing
If you feel you’re in a season where you feel like who you are and the dreams you had are buried, know that this is also a time of preparation. Plants grow and bloom, but their lifecycle doesn’t end there. The blossoms produce seeds that drop to the ground and are buried. Seemingly forgotten, but yet growing beneath the earth. Gathering the resources, and taking the time they need to sprout and begin the cycle all over again.
Tips for Growing While You’re Waiting
The time you spend waiting is actually a gift if you recognize it that way. It’s a time you can take to explore new things, and to build relationships. Maybe it’s a time to take some classes that are in a completely different direction than you’ve considered before. Rest and maybe read this article on How to Practice Creative Self Care. There are also lots of different projects and tutorials for you to explore on this site. Don’t stress, and just trust. Know that even though it may not seem obvious to you now, you can trust that there is Someone who sees the whole of it. Even if you don’t.
Will You Go?
After a year of waiting, wondering (and to be completely honest, a lot of doubt), this Fall I felt God saying go again. There’s more about that in the post, Why I didn’t Want to Start this Blog (but I am so glad I did). It was a total Jonah moment for me. It also reminded me of another truth.
Even though you may be impatient in the waiting, you may not feel ready for where God calls you to go next. Keep in mind that where you’re going next may not be the final destination. It may just be the next step in the journey God has planned for you. It may seem small or insignificant – not even close to the grand plans you may have fostered years before. Maybe it’s something completely different and a little scary. Will you go anyways?
Be Still and Know – Free Download Files
Like the seed in the garden, to be still doesn’t necessarily mean to be inactive. The first part of Psalms 46:10 encourages us to “Be still and know that I am God.” According to some sites I looked up, to be still in this context means to let go and trust God. To know and understand who He is and what He promises. If you or someone you know would like a visual reminder of this, I have (free to my subscribers) SVG and PDF files of this verse that you can download. You can find these in the Creative Resource Library.
I’d also love to have you comment on this post, or share it with someone you know who may need encouragement in their time of waiting. Thank you for reading. It encourages me!
PS- Look for more great articles that will help you as you’re growing in the waiting at the Desiring God website.