The things I began learning in singleness… I’m learning in marriage… and learning in motherhood and now learning in a season of loss I know I will continue to learn in deeper ways in each phase of life the Lord asks me to step into.
And “waiting well” is one of those fresh on my heart.
For 31 years, I prayed, I begged, I hoped, I trusted, I took matters into my own hands, I watched those “matters” not work out so well, I prayed some more, I waited, I got angry, I got disappointed, I prayed for patience, I surrendered, I dreamed, I wondered if marriage was really going to be a thing for me… and then I met a guy who became my husband 2 years later. The one I prayed for, the one I waited for…
And then the waiting for the thing I longed most for was over. Right? There were new lessons to be learned.
Or so I thought.
Let me take you back to the begging, dreaming, trusting, waiting years.
I was that little girl that was boy crazy from the time I noticed boys… which was fairly early on. I dreamed of the day I would fall in love. And I wrestled with these longings of my heart for a man to waltz into my life and sweep me off my feet especially in my early 20’s, then late 20’s… then the question of “will there ever be any waltzing?”. I watched friends get married; start having babies and those longings that I surrendered over and over kept creeping back in. Surely, I would be married by 30…. But… what if I’m not? I started to have some serious conversations with God about this dilemma. Conversations filled with hope, filled with trust, filled with anger, filled with disappointment. Do you see me? Do you see the longings of my heart?
“Yes. I see. I’m here. I’m penning a great story for your life Lindsey. Trust me.” Was all I seemed to hear, in not so audible a voice.
No promise of when or if the chapter of marriage would be written into my story.
Instead He led me to Isaiah 25:1
“O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.”
At 25, I clung to that verse… wanting to believe in the midst of all my wrestling that the plans God laid out for me were wonderful. I could trust Him. I wrestled with Him but found myself starting to trust Him more in the midst of the wrestling.
Inevitably, well, perhaps not inevitably for you but for me after I trusted for a while and didn’t see the desires of my heart fulfilled it was hard to keep trusting… Almost like my trust was conditional on whether what I was trusting him for would appear in my divine idea of what a “good” waiting period would be. A couple of years later Isaiah 25:9 struck me.
“It will be said on that day, “Behold this is our God, we have waited for Him, that he might save us; This is the Lord, we have waited for him, let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
I had recently heard a devotional on what “waiting” in the Old Testament meant. And then I studied it a bit more. And it means nothing like how our western culture defines it. Wait, while it does mean a waiting for something also means “to bind together”. Like a rope, the more strings in a rope, the stronger it is, the more it can hold. So “waiting” in eastern culture is less of waiting for an event or something to happen, but about what happens IN the waiting. Spiritually speaking, are we allowing God to strengthen our rope with Him, to be bound together with Him more IN the waiting. It was an “ah-ha” moment for me. God, what do you have for me IN the waiting for these longings of my heart? What are you surfacing in my heart that you want to strengthen? How do you want to deepen my understanding of you in this journey? My prayer became “Lord, when/if I stand at the end of an aisle about to meet my groom would I be able to say… not “It’s about time” with a hint of cynicism… but “this is our God we waited for Him….” And so, that time of singleness became a time of learning what it looked like to “wait well”, to dive into the hard questions about who God is and is He for me in the midst of the longings of my heart, to deepen my faith and strengthen my rope.
And that day came, when I stood at the end of the aisle May 13, 2012. Isaiah 25:9 was written in our program and engraved on my husbands ring. I walked down the aisle to the song “How Great is Our God”… because I knew this marriage was an answer to a prayer I never knew would be answered “yes” and a picture of what we were ultimately waiting for… Jesus. I stood at the end of the aisle and I thought “O Lord, had I known what you had in store for me, I would have spent so much more time trusting you, so much less time worrying, this man was more than worth the wait.”.
And then I was married. Dreams coming true. The “hard” waiting was over.
The blissful honeymoon stage lasted all of but a week or so and then the junk we brought into marriage (that we already knew would be there) began to show it’s ugly head. While still enjoying married life immensely, we dove in quickly to some of the hard stuff that marriage surfaced.
I had expectations for this man, my husband that He couldn’t meet. Shocking, I know. But what I didn’t know was what to do with those expectations, how to lay them down, not make them demands. So, we had some shall I say “issues” those first few months of marriage. We were stuck and needed help. Broken areas in my life triggered broken areas in Kevin’s and back and forth we would go. We went to counseling, got some tools that in God’s grace showed us how to communicate in ways that began to bring healing and not hurt to those broken areas that The Lord wanted to continue to redeem and restore. And the Lord led me again to Isaiah 25:9… Will I wait for the Lord even in this? In the ways that marriage wasn’t what I thought it would be. That I wouldn’t just set my hope of “when it’s not hard, when it’s what I dreamed it would be, when we get unstuck in these areas” but ask the Lord to strengthen my rope with Him in the things that the hard work part of marriage was surfacing in my heart. It was as if the Lord was saying “Lindsey, the things I rooted in your heart in singleness are things I want to root deeper in your heart in marriage, those lessons were not just to help you in the waiting for a husband, they were to prepare a deep foundation for you that will be needed also in marriage” And He began to do that, for both Kevin and I, in what I can say is nothing short of a miracle, a few months into marriage the ways we dove into the hard stuff and allowed God to reshape us began to produce a deeper love, a deeper joy with one another than we could’ve hoped for. God allowed our rope with the Lord as a couple to be strengthened in ways that certainly provided a deeper foundation for the next season of life we would step into. And I know He will and has continued to provide more opportunities in marriage to continue to strengthen that rope and wait on Him.
We began to trust God to expand our family and much to our surprise that happened quite quickly. We were elated and eagerly anticipating welcoming a little child into our family the following August. The strengthening of our rope with the Lord as we waited for this little one to arrive was filled with excitement and hope in the midst of the normal fears that having your first baby brings. 5 months later, we found out the little child we were carrying had a severe defect that would not allow her to live for long outside of the womb once she was born, if she made it full term. We were devastated. Yet, in our devastation, as the rope of our faith was stretched to the breaking point an astounding thing happened, it did not break… but new threads began forming over the ones that already had formed knitting our hearts closer together with the Lord then we ever thought possible. Again the Lord drew me back to that passage “will I wait well for Him in this season to?” I could go on and on about the ways the Lord strengthened our rope over the next 22 weeks but you know that story and if you don’t, can read about it here. I became a mom last year, waiting for a child dreamed of and prayed for. And then we met her, our first daughter. And 10 hours later we watched as she took her last breath and entered the arms of Jesus. We sang, through tears the same song I walked down the aisle to “How Great is our God” with a view of the steeple from the church we were married in from our hospital room. What was simply a picture of the bridegroom coming for His bride at our wedding became a reality for our little girl that day as we ushered her into the presence of our great King through a holy moment of praise. Her little footprint, sits on top of Isaiah 25:8,9 in my Bible, reminding me that even as we wait now for the Lord to continue to expand our family, ultimately what we wait for is the Lord, His return when He makes all things new.
Though I haven’t always waited well in this whole journey, I have seen the Lord honor my prayer that He would teach me to wait well, to focus not on the event of what I’m waiting for, but what He’s doing on the journey. That has not always been easy. And is not now. At times the waiting is exciting, at times it is excruciating. But still, He is strengthening my rope with Him IN the waiting.
I do not hope, nor think that most families will walk through what we have had to walk through in losing a child. However, I do know that life is full of unexpected blessings, unanticipated heartache, and more joy then we could ever know from it all even in the midst of the sorrows that come. I pray that at the end of my life, whatever else God calls me to step into I could say with greater confidence and depth than I ever knew possible before my King “Behold, this is MY God, I have waited for Him, that He might save me. This is the Lord, I have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Because ultimately, the picture that is painted in Isaiah 25 is one of God’s people declaring at the Great Feast (I’m capitalizing it because its going to be the kind of feast that needs to be capitalized), when the Lord has restored all things, that in all God has walked us through on this earth we were bound together with Him as we waited for His return.
So, my prayer for you in whatever season you are in and for myself is that we would spend this life “waiting well”. That we would find ourselves at the end with a rope of faith that is unbreakable.