When I was a kid I spent so much time wanting to grow up that I don’t think I ever really enjoyed just being a kid.
Finally growing up didn’t really cure my impatience. If anything, having more options available, and still having to wait for things just added frustration and negativity to my woes.
And then I gave myself over to the hope of Christianity. The hole in my existence was filled. Finally. But that was just the beginning of a new kind of waiting…
In once sense, Christianity is an instant cure. Freedom for eternity. Free ride to heaven and all that. (NOTE: there’s a lot of theology behind this. I won’t get into now. But trust me, once you get saved you don’t have to keep working for it. On the cross Jesus said “It is finished.”)
But there’s another part to Christianity that fixes us from the inside out. It works a lot like homeopathy. You see, homeopathy isn’t a pill you take that instantly fixes whatever is wrong with you. Here’s an example: antidepressants work by blocking the parts of the brain that suck up feel good hormones (serotonin, dopamine and the like), so your brains stops noticing that you are producing too little of the good stuff. The problem isn’t fixed, it just gets a Band-Aid put on it. By contrast, homeopathy works holistically by encouraging the body to heal itself, thus correcting the imbalance that caused the problem in the first place.
Of course, homeopathy takes a lot longer. In fact, a lot of things in life are more beneficial the longer it takes. Weight loss, relationships, meditation, etc. etc.
Isn’t it a paradox, then, that we humans have such difficulty waiting for things. Eve didn’t want to wait for God to reveal himself and his plan. She wanted to know it all for herself. Right at that moment. By eating an apple. The ultimate “cure-all” pill. And she got what she wanted, except that it wasn’t what she wanted and it caused a whole lot more harm than good.
We’re still going after apples in this post-modern age.
Christianity didn’t fix my impatience. If anything, it has made it even worse. Because now I’m promised things. Now self-pity and negativity are driven out by all this hope.
I know what you are thinking. Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing?
Well, yes and no. It depends on how you look at it. You see, self-pity and negatively are tremendously effective pills for impatience. It forces you to be complacent. To move on past the dreams.
If I were complacent I would have figured out by now that my dreams will never come true. And I would have settled for much much less.
However, the “cure” of complacency is actually the side effect. Because we are all designed for a purpose, complacency is always temporary. Eventually it just leads to dissatisfaction and restlessness.
About four years into my journey to have my work accepted for publication I begged God to take away the hope. I didn’t want to want this. And it is so hard to believe that it has now been eleven years past that point. And I still want this.
I’m still impatient, and still going after things that by all normal reasoning I should have given up on by now.
But I’ve realized something.
The fruit is found in the waiting. I’ve been planting seeds for a lot of things for a very long time. I till the ground, water it, nurture it and even throw a little fertilizer (ahem…crap) at it from time to time. I’ve left this ground to drought and I’ve also drowned it, desperately trying to force the seeds to sprout.
And what do I have to show for it?
Well, definitely an oft-trod ground. Lots of foot steps…mostly my own and those of few others who have passed through. They never stay. One thing I’ve had to accept is that right now, at this stage, I have only my own footsteps to keep me company.
I also see lots of mud, and some patches of dry earth where the sun has scorched it a bit.
Every now and again I see some seedlings struggling to the surface. Maybe even a bloom or two. Sometimes these fledgling signs of growth are trampled by the feet of others, sometimes by my own feet, and sometimes by things beyond anyone’s control. That’s the hardest part, when you see things happening, get excited and then….nope. Not it.
I get so sick of waiting. Why can’t I be like them? I sometimes ask heaven as I lift my gaze to the fields of those around me, where there are houses and trees and lots of cars parked in the driveway with laughter streaming from the windows. There is this thing in me that desires complacency. I want to be okay to not live for a purpose. I want to turn from all of this tilling and dirt and mud and just enjoy my life.
But then I’ll see a little fruit hanging from one of those fledgling plants. And all the dirt beneath my nails and on my face, and all the tears I’ve cried – tears that have watered this field – suddenly make sense in those moments.
I’m reminded in those times that joy is not what we humans always make of it. Like time, it is not linear. It is not completely reliant on cause and effect, with satisfaction and laughter the only symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms are more subtle and it takes longer to recognize. Sometimes you have to dig it out.
Because the change is happening so deep and so subtly, and sometimes the only thing you have to keep you going is the hope that one day it will be worth it.
And it’s probably not going to be like anything you expected.