I’m feeling rather uninspired today–or maybe just on the verge of falling dead asleep–so I needed a nudge on my 15 minutes today. I fell down my deck stairs yesterday (yes, my Indian name is, “Trips Over Sunlight”) and really hurt my hip. Luckily, I wasn’t carrying Baby and the only thing that was wounded was my pride. However, every time I rolled over on my hip, I woke up, so this is day three on the “sleep deprivation, insanity inducing, freaked out Mommy” saga.
But I digress. As I was saying, I needed some inspiration so I flipped through several of my “Women Who Do Too Much But Still Have Time to Read Self-help Books” books to find something inspiring. I googled the day of the year this is, so I could see if the topic from “365 Days of Guilt for Women Who are Busy and Need Something Else to Feel Inadequate About” book would have anything relevant. In case you want to know, this is day 209. And no, the surfing didn’t count as part of my 15 minutes.
So, turning to day 209 in “Whispers of Wisdom for Busy Women” (for me, I need things to be more obvious. You whisper in my house and no one will hear you. The book should be called, “Let Me Hit You Over the Head with a 2 X 4”). Day 209 says: Hold On. “Hold tight to God, your God, just as you’ve done up to now.” Joshua 23:8 (The Message).
The book (not the Bible), talks about how we spend so much of our time worried about, focused on, and trying to figure out the next hour, day, or week. Personally, those of you who are only trying to figure out things a week ahead are slackers in my book–I can worry about what my kids will do once they start driving! If you aren’t worrying into the next decade or generation, you are an amateur. Sure, I can trust God, but only as I’m making sure that I have a backup plan. It isn’t that I don’t trust God, I just don’t trust anyone else. And it isn’t even the people–it’s the things that we depend on that seem to cause us the most problem–the flat tire, the doctor running late (which then makes us run even later), the weather, the stupid person with his left-hand turn signal on for the last 5 miles on a road with a double-yellow line. Can’t we have a “pass stupid people for free” card?
I know this passage is telling us to hold on–as in cling to the Lord–but I hear it with my voice as I say it to my kids–“Hold on, wait, just a minute…” And when I hear it with the voice that God uses (a cross between George Burns and Morgan Freeman), I think I probably have the same reaction as my kids do– I want to whine, “But that’s not FAIR! I don’t want to wait! I don’t want to hold on! I want an Oompa Loompa, NOW!” in my best Veruca Salt voice.
We know to “hold on” to God, to believe that he has the best in store for us, that he wants us to succeed, but I think that the “hold on” as in “wait” is a little harder to embrace. His timing is not our timing and waiting can be as hard for us as it is for our kids waiting for Christmas morning. There are so many things I want to accomplish NOW that I’m hearing “hold on” from God. What’s really frustrating is that God KNOWS that patience isn’t one of the gifts he blessed me with.
We need to learn to hold on and wait while we hold onto God. When I first graduated college, I really, really, really wanted to go to grad school to get my MFA in Creative Writing. I knew that it wouldn’t get me a dime more in salary at the local advertising agency (and would very likely have made me overqualified for my first job as an assistant manager at The Gap) but I wanted it NOW- or rather–then. I knew I couldn’t be a writer unless I had an MFA. If I had any hopes of being a writer, of making a living as a writer–I needed to go to graduate school. I applied to three writing programs and got rejected from all three programs. There. I had my answer. I couldn’t go to graduate school, therefore I couldn’t be a writer.
And for almost 20 years, I didn’t write. Then, I found out about instructional design. And to do instructional design, one had to go to graduate school. Gulp. I had a lot of fear about putting myself out there again. I was terrified that I was going to be rejected. Again. But I decided I would apply to one school–if they took me–I would take it as a sign that I was moving in the right direction.
For those of you who don’t know what instructional designers do–we create (more or less) training. We don’t teach the course, (well, sometimes we do), we give the instructor the tools to teach it. We don’t program an online course, we write the script that the programmers follow. I joke that, very often, I write the ‘read me’ files that no one ever reads. I write the learning objectives for courses, “By the end of this course you will be able to….”
I’ve actually been a pretty successful instructional designer. I really enjoy making learning fun. A lot of the work I do is for government- and corporate-mandated courses that are, let’s be honest here, about as enjoyable as watching paint dry. But I try to make it fun because I truly believe that people learn better when they are laughing.
When I joined my writer’s group and told them what I do for a living, it dawned on me that I actually get paid to write! Okay, it isn’t the great american novel (yet) but I do get paid to write. And paid more than what I’d get if I was a reporter, or copywriter. Plus, given the publishing industry right now, I have a job that is a little more stable than a reporter or copywriter.
So I “held on” to God, believing that He had the best thing in store for me. I also “held on” as in waited–if I had gotten that much-coveted MFA back 20 years ago, I certainly wouldn’t have ended up as an instructional designer. I don’t think that holding onto God–in trusting him–means sitting back and doing nothing. I have a note I wrote down from a sermon that says, “Pray as though it all depends on God; work as though it all depends on you.” The productive work–as opposed to the angst-filled, neurotic, ruminating, needs to take her meds work, is what we need to do while we are holding on for God. We also need to recognize that “hold on, wait” while frustrating, is part of the process of growing as a child, a person and as a Christian.