I get on this little treadmill a lot where I place myself inside this memoir I’m writing. But a memoir is not made inside my head. Its made through the agonizing process of relating my story in a particular way for readers. At this time in my life a memoir cannot be made reality, no matter how hard I try to make it happen. I am a family man. My kids are on school break for the summer. My publishing work at this time involves waiting on others to finish their part of the book process.
So I wait, and wait, and wait. Through entire seasons I wait. Summer, fall, winter, spring. I go on long walks. I pay the bills. I get supplies. I ship packages. I watch the money disappear from the bank and I slowly watch it return. I feel like it will never really be time for the project I want to be doing. Slowly, acceptance is working its way into me. Acceptance is not giving up. Its not even putting life on hold. Its saying “Yes” to God’s timing. I’m learning patience.
I look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer around 1938 through 1940 and I see him playing the waiting game. His calling, the thing he’d been preparing his whole life for, training pastors, looks like a near impossible task. He doesn’t have a library. His beloved community is forced into seclusion, he can only train illegals. He and these illegals know that they may never see a normal pastorate any time soon. But he knows beyond any doubt that he’d rather not be doing anything else. He’s called to these people. He plays the waiting game. He works for change within the institution of his Confessing Church. He stays politically informed, which is very dangerous. But though day by day his country’s leaders march his people into chaos, he works to settle himself and his young illegal pastors into a gospel preaching that will weather the storm.
My own little waiting game seems to pale in significance, but who am I to say. God has us each waiting on Him in our own little way. I must accept and surrender each day, each task as a gift unto God. So whether I’m placing page numbers at the bottom of a page or calming my daughters momentary fears, whether mopping a floor or sitting in a recovery meeting, I have to believe that every moment surrendered counts for something.
When I’m on the treadmill in my head trying to “make things happen” imagining how this chapter would look if I could only write it now, or what I’ll do if so and so doesn’t turn something in soon, or what will happen if that bill doesn’t get paid, something happens to me. I try to take control of things that can’t be controlled in that moment. I try to “make things happen” when its just not time. Then my commitments to those people and things that are primary gets lost. The grass of my home church community doesn’t look as green as that of some other. The possibility of disappearing and reappearing somewhere more inviting seems more real. My calling is a lot less sure. Sometimes when my dad calls and asks “what are you doing these days?” I reply “oh, same old thing.” And in that moment it feels like I don’t know why the heck I do what I do. That’s the treadmill.
So I gotta get off that treadmill and get into action. I do this by reaching out of myself and out of my head. I need a reminder that I am valued for the person I am right now. That my calling and commitments are worth it here, now, in the middle of this waiting game. And you know what? I realize that the waiting game is actually right where God is at work. What’s that old Lennon lyric? “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. . . .” Well I can plan to be present now, accept the good God has for me today, surrender to His will, and then just be who I am for Him right now. That sounds good.