Why I Sat Quietly in a Dark Room, Waiting

Once a friend told me of how he and his family moved south. When work didn’t fall into his lap, he spent months preparing to be a realtor. He studied the books, took the tests. But just as he finally reached the point of almost becoming a realtor, something else came along. Something better.

What struck me about this story was his take on it.

“I kind of wonder,” he said slowly, “if God didn’t mean for those three months to be a time of rest for me. If I wouldn’t have tried to take control of where I was going, I could have simply enjoyed those months.”

But instead he spent that time hurrying, striving, moving, and in the end all was for naught. He took three months that could have been a slow grace, and turned them into frantic activity that went no where.

I have done that. I do that.

* * * * *

I sit up with the older two kids in their room as they fall asleep, not because they need me to be here with them, but mostly just because it’s where I want to be right now. There’s a fan roaring white noise. Outside the room, the hall light outlines the almost closed door in a rectangle of yellow.

These are warm, heavy days. August days. In a few weeks the farmers will start to bring down the corn. The hay will be cut one last time and the barns will be full. The nights and mornings will grow cooler. I’ll start to smell woodsmoke in the evening. Stray leaves will blow across the street.

I spend 75% of the year waiting for autumn. It’s been thirteen years since I was last in school, but September still feels more like a new beginning than January. A fresh start. Summer has always felt like the culmination of things, the season when things reach their peak. And then comes Fall, with a return to cooler temperatures, a return to normal life, a return to the things that make me happy.

Waiting for fall.

* * * * *

“One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God.” Oswald Chambers

* * * * *

I have been waiting for quite some time. Or so it feels. In reality, we have only been back from our cross country adventure for two months, the blink of an eye. I have an upcoming trip to Sri Lanka, then the Frederick Fair that we go to every year, and then October. The heart of autumn. By then we will know which way to go, which ways have opened up, which ways perhaps have closed.

And I fight in me an urge to skip to the end. To lay waste to this middle that feels endless, this waiting. But I do not want to miss the small blessings! So tonight I sit in this room, and I peer through the darkness, trying to pay closer attention to my now sleeping children. When I finish typing this I will lay down on the scratchy carpet, in front of the fan, like I used to do as a child. Perhaps I’ll fall asleep there.

Because waiting can be okay, if I let it happen. And this darkness is so temporary. So fleeting. I want to stop pushing so many days aside.

14 Replies to “Why I Sat Quietly in a Dark Room, Waiting”

  1. Waiting is not what we want to do. We want to be people of action. People think those who wait are strange. Yet, He tells us to wait a lot. Think about Abraham and how long he waited. Even Paul waited about 14 years before he became Super Apostle.

  2. Many people are too busy making a living to make a life.

    And for decades, I thrashed around. Given a little success, I would work harder. Given a shortage of success, I would work a little harder. It’s like a propeller. It likes a certain pace. Too slow and it doesn’t accomplish anything. Too fast and the cavitation not only reduces speed but can destroy the propeller itself.

    Michael J. Fox has said that his Parkinson’s has been, on the whole, of benefit to him. Of course, I suspect he has little to worry about, financially, but there is a weekend in every week for everyone.

    Dad farmed in the clay soils of the Black Swamp of NW Ohio. Walk across a bare field in March, and the muck will suck the shoes off your feet in fifteen feet, and if you plow in the spring, you form hard clods that cannot be turned into a decent seed bed even if you harrow the field 20 or 30 times. However, if yu plow in the fall, the clods fall apart through the winter storms, and the fields need only a light disking in the spring to form a perfect seedbed. One might think that God forces the farmer to relax all winter and perform maintenence work at a leisurely pace.

    It’s not that farmers work less. Dad was typical, and he’d spend 3000 hours a year in planting and harvesting alone, compared to the 2000 hours of a 40-hour employee. It’s just that he has regular seasons where he could do little but pause and reflect.

    Jerry Baker, who wrote “Plants are like people” points out that August, not April, is planting season. It’s the time of year when nature scatters its seeds on the ground. I’d say that Jerry had it backwards. People are like plants. We need to lay around in late summer, geminate – and yeah, get buried in manure.

    My wife recently became disabled with vascular dementia. She’s cavitating, trying to do things she no longer can do, because she refuses to accept reality. I’m cavitating, too, trying to ease her pain, but if a dentist extracts a tooth, he doesn’t try to do it slowly. That would be too painful. I can’t think for her, and I can’t take away her senility. I need to give her a husband who relaxes and doesn’t get ruffled, because this cavitation is destroying me.

  3. And what I am only beginning to understand more fully is this….even when we’re crazy frantic busy, we’re only casting long shadows on the waiting that is happening beneath… why not stop the crazy frantic and, instead, sit quietly in the dark because that is the place where we want to be? We are all waiting.

  4. “I kind of wonder,” he said slowly, “if God didn’t mean for those three months to be a time of rest for me. If I wouldn’t have tried to take control of where I was going, I could have simply enjoyed those months.”

    I wonder how many times I have done that myself, for I know I have done it.

  5. currently I am coming to the end of a season and I can feel the pressure to make some big decisions and all I get from God is; press in to me and wait…. I felt like I was going to go crazy! This was an encouragement to me and came at a perfect time. Thank you.

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