When God Says Wait
When I was a child, the saying “slow as Christmas” actually meant something to me. For someone with a single digit age, the twelve months passing from Christmas to Christmas might as well be twelve years. I remember how slowly each day passed as I mentally counted down to the blessed holiday from New Year’s Day, spring break, summer vacation, and Thanksgiving.
Even during the month of December, I found it difficult not to squirm. Moving our little stuffed mouse from one day to the next on the cloth Advent calendar hanging on the door was physically agonizing. I couldn’t wait for Christmas and all the joy the day symbolizes, which in that season of my life meant lots of baked goodies, family get-togethers, and more gifts than I knew what to do with.
As I age, “slow as Christmas” means less and less to me. My life is so busy and filled with activity that by the time I pause to check the date, I am astounded by how much time has passed me by. I’m more likely to say, “Christmas again, already?”
But today I feel a kinship with my younger self, a precocious child who thought she knew much more than she actually did. In the middle of what feels like the hottest summer my native Alabama has experienced in years, there is inside me a groaning, a yearning, an unresolved anticipation for the hope that Christmas brings. Once more, I wait for a child.
Motherhood has not always been my dream.
I’ve always found babies adorable and I loved my little brother and sister, but as the quintessential older child I much preferred the company of my books in the quiet solitude of my room to that of younger children. In high school and college, I went through a period of time when I decidedly did not want children. But when I met the man who is now my beloved husband of three and a half years, I almost immediately changed my mind.
We were eager for children right away, but our financial and living situations were not conducive to bringing new lives into the world. When we bought our first home last November, it was with joy that we officially began what we hoped would be a quick season of trying to conceive. We dreamily imagined spending the Christmas season of 2016 with a brand new baby of our own.
But eight months have now passed. The hope of watching our little son or daughter gaze in wide-eyed wonder at the hope and joy that is Christmas lights this year has long since died out. The time between that rather naïve moment of daydreaming and today is filled with empty plastic jars of prenatal vitamins, worn-out lists of possible baby names, and entirely too much money spent on plastic sticks that spelled out what my heart already knew to be true: not pregnant.
Patience is a virtue, and it is not one I naturally possess. I am the one who will volunteer to do a group project by myself if I feel my group members will slow me down. When I have a great birthday gift for my husband, I can’t wait to give it to him on the allotted day — I have to give it to him now. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Ask someone else. So you can imagine how I have reacted to this relatively short period of waiting and uncertainty.
I will admit, God’s silence on this matter has brought me to anger. It has brought me to tears. And yesterday, when I received yet another confirmation that my womb remains empty, I descended into both. After my husband left for work, I collapsed on my bed and, sobbing, I cried out in despair.
“Do you hear me?” I asked in silence, unable even to speak. “Are you listening?”
And — perhaps since this was the first time I have asked Him a direct question about this particular issue — He finally answered me.
It was not an answer I wanted.
It was not yes. It was not no. It was what I least wanted to hear.
“Are you listening to me?” He whispered in my heart, still gentle despite my rage. “I would not have given you a mother’s heart only to deny you the chance to be a mother. Hold on. Trust me. You, like all of my people, simply have to wait.”
Growing up, Lent and Advent were foreign to me.
I didn’t participate in either until my family joined a United Methodist congregation when I was in the tenth grade. As a teenager, even more impatient than I am now, I didn’t understand these seasons. Why were we expected to go through these periods of fasting and quiet mourning for the promise that has already been fulfilled?
But now as I think back over the blessings I’ve received in my twenty-five years of life, I am beginning to understand.
After puberty, I waited seven years for my first boyfriend and my first kiss. Both were fulfilled with the man I married. At the time, it seemed like forever. Now, it seems like nothing.
After I graduated college, I waited six months to find a job that would provide good benefits for myself and my new husband. At the time, it seemed like forever. Now, it seems like nothing.
After we married, we waited two and a half years to save up and buy a house. At the time, it seemed like forever. Now, it seems like nothing.
Sarah was an elderly woman before her promised son was born. Noah and his family waited out on the ark for forty days and forty nights. Jacob waited (and worked) for his beloved wife Rachel for fourteen years. The Israelites waited for freedom from slavery for four hundred years, and freedom from the desert for forty more. Caleb waited forty-five years to claim the land God had promised him. Humanity waited for thousands of years for the appearance of our Savior. And now, we spend thousands more as we await His return.
To our God, waiting is important. I don’t pretend to know why.
But what I do know is that I’m in good company, and the evidence shows that our God is faithful. He upholds His promises when His people are faithful in return.
So I will rejoice in this period of waiting, and to paraphrase one of my characters, when I am tempted to fear, I will instead rush headlong into His love. Because no matter how slowly Christmas approaches, it always comes on time.
This piece originally appeared on CarolynAstfalk.com.
Olivia Folmar Ard is a secretary, grad student, loving wife, and devoted Christian. Her new adult women’s fiction trilogy The Bennett Series addresses issues facing today’s generation while adhering to timeless moral principles. She and her husband live in central Alabama, where they attend Valleydale Baptist Church.