I wanted to write this post because I feel like a lot of the people who speak about patience and waiting are the ones who are on the "other side" - and have received what they were told to wait for. When it comes to relationships, there's the hip and happily married girl who's telling you - just wait! Have hope! You're going to find YOUR GUY! (Easy for her to say now that she's got him, right?!) Discouragement and comparison just sneak their way in!
But I'm hoping that because of my position of being smack dab in the midst of waiting, I can be a relatable source to where you're at and what you're going through in the realm of patience with a world telling you that everything you want can be yours NOW. Note: this can totally apply to more than just a future spouse - maybe you're waiting for your dream job, to receive your calling from God, or maybe it's something else! For a second I thought maybe I shouldn't write this, maybe I don't have as much validity as someone who's "made it" to the "other side" - but nope. Those are lies. And there is so much value from what is found in the waiting. In your patience. The seeds that are sown and grown before a harvest.
Now, you may or may not know how much I love a good analogy. And I believe one of the ways God speaks to me is through spiritual analogies, real-time parables, if you will. He orchestrates somewhat of a production to get his point across to me. So, the following is just that - setting the scene at Joshua Tree National Park in California.
I was recently visiting my old roommate in Arizona, and on the third day of being out there, I felt all this creative energy built up in me that I wanted to release into a desert-inspired photoshoot. (Hi, I'm from the midwest, this is a really exciting endeavor for me.) So I showed Kaylie some image examples of environments I wanted to shoot in, and she, having already been to Joshua Tree before, recommended we take a trip there to accomplish what my heart was itching to capture.
So great! We set out - and after a few hours of driving and a pit stop at In-N-Out (talk about the best kinda DAILY BREAD, am I right?) we reached the sign "WELCOME TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK!" We were in! ...Or so I thought?
Now at this point, I was the one driving the car because we had switched positions at our last pit-stop, so it was me - girl who had never been here before - who was in charge of directing the journey for the time being. We drove on the main road without saying anything for a good couple minutes - my eyes darting from side to side at the landscape around me. It looked pretty good! Your typical "can't find this is the midwest" desert scenery. So after a bit, I proceeded to ask Kaylie, "So...do I just pull over kinda anywhere, or do I wait for a parking area or, how do we do this?" to which she replied, "Oh! We're not even really in the park yet! We should just keep going." Which sparked confusion in me because we had FOR SURE passed the WELCOME TO JOSHUA TREE sign a good couple miles back. But okay! I kept driving.
The following is the raw and naked example of my lack of patience, which was startling for even me to experience. What felt like driving for 20 minutes was probably not even 5, and I found myself asking Kaylie, "Are you SURE we shouldn't be stopping? I'm definitely seeing some scenery I'd love to have in a photo. I feel like we're missing things!" to which she would replied "I'm sure! The good stuff, the stuff you showed me you were wanting, is way further into the park. I promise!" The rational fact that she had been through this entire park before was nowhere to be found in my mind. I was so concerned on what I might be missing out on.
Also, being the driver of the car was NOT helping. Keeping my foot on the gas and hands clutched to the wheel when everything in my being said LOOK! STOP THERE! PULL OVER! - it was a tormenting self-control exercise. Driving by the things I thought would look great. The things I thought I wanted. But I was (ever so thinly) trusting in Kaylie's word.
Finally - after about 15 minutes and a 4th round of "Are you sure?" "I'm sure" back and forth between me and Kaylie, I had us pull over. Just to get some peace.
But once we got out of the car we started snapping some photos, I realized this wasn't actually what I wanted. It had all looked okay when zooming through the road, but standing here, these pictures were quite flat and uninteresting.
So we got back into the car, and I had Kaylie get back behind the wheel. It took SO much pressure off of me. The voices inside that said "STOP HERE - LOOK THERE" were silenced as I wasn't the one in control anymore. There was a new driver to get us where we were going. One who knew where to go, and even more, knew what I was looking for even when I had not seen it myself, but merely showed her what I wanted.
The next place we stopped was GREAT. It had aspects that I didn't even know I was looking for, full of the most interesting looking cacti and gentle hills in the background. We had a good time capturing each other in this environment. But eventually, we knew we needed to move on, and there was more in store.
Now, something I failed to mention before was how we had each brought 3 different outfits to take photos in while going through the park and its various scenery. And If you're REALLY paying attention, you'll remembered we've made two stops. That means two outfits, and one more to go.
So we got back into the car, encouraged from that good stop, but ready to push forward onto what was to come. From the beginning, because of the reference photo I had shown Kaylie, she knew I wanted the environment to have massive boulders that we could post up next to and make all my desert Vogue dreams come true. Yup. I said it. Desert Vogue dreams I didn't even know I had.
As we were driving along Kaylie pointed out, "Look! Up ahead! There are the boulders! Do you see them?" I looked to where she was pointing and realized 2 things.
1. I could see them, I knew they existed, but they seemed SO. FAR. AWAY!
2. Because we were 'so far away' they didn't really catch my eye because they looked like a very small pile.
But the question was, "Do you see them?" So. My answer was. "Yes!" They indeed existed.
We kept driving, and after a few miles and bends in the road later, I knew we had gotten to where we were supposed to be. I saw the whole picture. It was not a small pile of boulders, but massive rocks surrounding both sides of the road, with cacti and green palms mixed in to the terrain. It was all the things I had gotten glimpses of before, and EVEN MORE. My excitement was SKY HIGH. We pulled into a parking area and I proceeded to whip out my last - and FAVORITE - outfit. I distinctly remember confirming with Kaylie, "So we're SURE. This is the final stop. This is best? This is the place where I'm gonna be using my favorite outfit." And Kaylie replied, "Yes. This is it. We're almost at the end of the park."
And that was all the assurance I needed as I went into the car to start changing my outfit.
The air felt different at this last location. A cool breeze had picked up, and even though we were hanging out in the desert while it was pushing over 100 degrees...it was not at all miserable. The entire time we were exploring it was blissful and freeing. This final environment paired with my favorite outfit caused me to loosen up the most - my confidence kicked in as I leaned into the boulders like old friends. The best was truly saved for last, and these were BY FAR my favorite photos of the day.
All this to say, I feel like what the Lord was trying to teach me through all of this was to trust His leading and timing. In the same way that Kaylie had been to Joshua Tree and was guiding the trip, God already knows every road and bend in my life while I'm just driving though it for the first time. It feels better and is easier to be patient when we get out of the drivers seat and let Him take us through. Because of free will, we're able to stop where we think looks good, but He'll always call us back to the promise that He has the best in store for us. When we think we know what we want the 'picture' to look like, He is gently smiling, knowing how wide our eyes will get and how much our hearts will swell when we reach what He has for us.
This lesson at Joshua Tree just snapped me back into purpose and patience. I know God has given me this gift of singleness right now. I know there are so many things I want to grow more deeply in to become more whole before I can find a man who is also whole. Not perfect. But whole, and ready.
That's something else the Lord taught me this week. Don't look for your better half, just look for another whole person. And make sure you are whole yourself. Do not strive for perfection, but for WHOLENESS. Being READY. Athletes don't go into the game with an injury. Don't rush into a situation you aren't healthy enough to handle yet, or that wound/sickness is just going to get worse.
Trust God. Grow in Him. He will not let you miss what He has for you, and you will certainly not miss it if you are constantly in communication and oneness with the Creator of your soul. He is a good Father who gives good gifts, and He waits until we are ready to receive them because a part of His goodness is His timing. So hop into the passenger seat and trust the One who was, who is, and is to come.