The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
If I’m being honest, there are many times when I’ve been
skeptical curious about my “superChristian” brothers and sisters. I think most of you who’ve attended church know the people I’m talking about. They may give you the “I’m not judging you, but I’m judging you” look when you don’t put money in the offering one week. They may lecture you about drinking if you mention going to a party on Friday night. They seem so perfect that you start to wonder if they’re even human.
I’m a hypocrite for judging them.
On the outside, my life looks the way it should to fit the stereotype of a “nice Christian girl.” I go to church every Sunday. Some weeks I even get there early to greet people. I’ve consistently volunteered with local non-profits for the past 7 years. I’ve attended Bible studies and prayer groups. I’ve written blogs about faith. But, as much as I try to appear this way, I am certainly not always “nice” and many times my actions fail to reflect that I’m a follower of Christ.
I can go days or weeks without cracking open a Bible. I listen to rap music with lyrics that would make my mother cringe. I gossip. I feel ugly when I don’t have any make-up on. I laugh at other people’s expense. I try to handle things beyond my control. I hang out with people whose morals don’t match my own. I miss opportunities to share my testimony because I’m too intimidated. I’ve fooled other people, and sometimes even myself, into believing I’ve got it all together.
I wonder how many of us go through life hoping we can just “check the boxes” and get by without anyone figuring us out. We show up on Sunday morning. Wear our best clothes. Put money in the offering. Raise our hands during worship. Smile and say “hi” to everyone. Check, check, check, check, check. We should be covered until next Sunday now, right? Nevermind that we looked at our watch the entire time, silently judged the appearance of the person sitting to our left, and critiqued the choir on the drive home. Throughout this crazy routine we forget that, while everyone else might not recognize a mask, we can’t fool God.
I’ve recently forced myself to re-evaluate my intentions and have discovered some truths that trump my imperfections. The real miracle of my life is this: despite my selfish heart, God still invites me to call Him father. And He knows me. He knows when I’m genuinely serving Him and when I’m just going through the motions. He knows when I’d rather watch America’s Next Top Model than read my Bible. He knows when I’m being loving and when I’m judging others. He knows when I’m sitting at church, wondering if forgiveness really applies to me or if it’s just for everyone else.
He knows all of this and He still loves me. He knows every flaw and yet I feel Him reach for me.
I’m finding that, when I hold myself accountable for daily devotions and actively practicing honesty, God begins to transform my heart. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with His grace. I had wrongly lived under the impression that I need to “fix” myself before I can get close to God. The truth is that He’s calling us to an intimate relationship with Him now. I have genuine enthusiasm about sharing my faith because I know that I don’t have to be perfect to fit perfectly into God’s plan. Asking God to be the foundation in my life just means allowing Him to use my broken, sinful heart as instrument for love. I don’t have to wear a mask because I’m not living for myself anymore… I’m living for Him.
I wish you only the beautiful things in life. I hope you find happiness beyond anything you can imagine. I hope your days are filled with love, friendship, inspiration, joy and peace.
I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. You have absolutely no idea how lovely you are. No matter how much you disagree, I will never stop saying it.
I wish you strength to move forward. I’m sorry that he broke your heart and treated you carelessly. Your next boyfriend will be so happy that your last one didn’t realize how precious you are.
I wish you the courage to tell your parents that you’re gay. If they’re not accepting, you can bring your boyfriend to holidays at my house. I already love you like family.
I wish you had stayed. I understand why you had to leave, but still…. I wish you had stayed.
I wish you would meet the girl you’re meant to spend your life with. Maybe then you’d realize that I’m not her. It breaks my heart every time I have to turn you down.
I wish you everything you want in life. The whole world will cheer for you when you finally realize your dreams. Everyone knows how much you deserve it.
I wish you believed in me. If I were a weak person I might shrink to match your expectations. But I’m not.
I wish you faith for the road ahead. I know you don’t trust God right now, but I hope the path you’re on leads you home eventually. It’s never too late to go home.
I wish you and I had stayed close like we used to be. Maybe then you would have called me instead of trying to drive home drunk. Maybe then I wouldn’t have seen the look on your mom’s face at your funeral.
Everyone is seeing someone. Who isn’t seeing someone? I was just seeing someone, and now I’m no longer seeing him. Even if a person is seeing you and only has eyes for you, that person could still be noticing, longing, considering, fantasizing, back-burner-ing, seducing, flirting, accidentally touching, and nonaccidentally having sex with other people.
We’re all just giving ourselves away, to everyone, mostly people who don’t want anything to do with us. Will I ever belong to someone? Will someone ever want that responsibility? Will someone ever say, ‘Yes, she’s mine, and I’m hers, and there’s nothing better than this, and I can’t even employ the popular phrase ‘may not work…’ because these words vanished from my vocabulary the day I decided she tasted sweet.’ Is this feeling so rare that inappropriate flirtations seem to take up more space in the universe than hermetic fidelity?
And more to the point, if everyone is seeing everyone else, why have I been seeing no one all this time? The math doesn’t work out, not in my favor and not correctly. Why do there have to be any other people when I exist? I am right here. Here I am. And here is someone.
–Elissa Bassist, If Not For Everything Else
“A tender heart and a brave soul light up the path for others with the kind of luminosity that heals and enlivens. So don’t worry about being good. Instead, discover how both good and bad live within you. Deeply accept the shadows even as you seek the light. Believe in change. Take full responsibility for who you are and what you want. And from such forthright wisdom, your goodness will prevail and your kindness will blossom and your heart will be healed.”
— Elizabeth Lesser, The Seeker’s Guide
At 17, I learned that we are more alike than we are different.
I attended a Catholic high school that put its social justice teachings into practice. We housed homeless people from the community in the evenings and I was part of a group that set up sleeping areas, prepared dinners and spent time with our guests.
I enjoyed getting to know everyone I met through the program, but there was one particular person who changed my heart. Candice was 19 when I met her. We chatted all the way through dinner because we had so much in common– love for biology, reading, and Jesus. Candice was articulate, compassionate, and pretty. She seemed just like every other teenage girl.
Except, she was homeless. And she had a two year-old son. I will never forget the look on her face when she told me it was his birthday and the only present he received was a stuffed animal from a shelter they’d stayed at. She couldn’t afford to get him anything. Candice’s circumstances were overwhelmingly sad– as were everyone else’s there– but that’s not what I remember most about her.
She reminded me of myself. I looked at her and thought, why did my life turn out so differently than hers? Why am I in prep school while she’s a single mom? Why do I have loving parents while hers kicked her out? Why am I so quick to judge other people when they have the same wants and needs that I do?
Candice is the reason I became passionate about volunteering at 17. She inspired me to get involved in the lives of people I didn’t normally meet. From working with children with Autism, to building houses with Habitat for Humanity, to tutoring kids from “at risk” schools– I’ve met countless people who changed my life. They did far more for me than I could ever do for them.
The great thing about serving is that it does not require you to have extraordinary talents or gifts. You do not have to change yourself or pretend to be anything you’re not. Serving is simply having so much gratitude for the life you’ve been given that you can’t help but praise God by loving what He loves: people.
We’re born into circumstances and often unconsciously think that because we have more opportunities that another person, we somehow deserve it. If we saw ourselves in someone else’s eyes, we might realize that we’re not so different from a homeless single mom. We’re just given cards and play the hand we’re dealt.
I picture Candice when I judge someone unfairly or start thinking that I deserve something. If you ever find yourself feeling superior to someone, I’d suggest asking them about their story… You may be surprised when you see yourself in it. And when you do see yourself in their eyes or feel gratitude that you were blessed with different circumstances, that’s when you need to put yourself on their level and walk with them.