Just Give It Some Time

Frozen Garden - Stefan Eber - Photography

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.” ― Shel Silverstein

The big freeze in February seemed to kill off the whole back garden. I sit out there in the evenings. The birds are making their last run. What’s left of the squirrel population seem to be heading off to their cubby holes – stopping in their tracks to give me a hard stare.

I began these vigils in complete despair. I had planted a whole new batch of plants all throughout the newly landscaped little back garden. Then a month later came the killer freeze. As I would sit there and look at all the dead plants and think about the wasted dollars, it would be such a discouraging experience.

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” ― E.B. White

But as the weeks went by, the miracle of life began to show itself all around me. Green slowly appeared. Those bare and cut back branches, barren roots, black soil, all began to take on a new vibrancy. My own spirit started to hope. There were a few specimens I had all but given up on. Even some of these began to come to life again. Just give it some time I whispered to myself each time I looked and saw a different garden.

I thought again and again, what a necessary motto this was for so much more in my life. Just give it some time. There’s always such a hurry all around and deep inside. So much dissatisfaction all over the place. But, it’s not done until it’s done.

Just give it some time. What’s meant to be will come back, one day, bit by bit, never all at once. Just like relationships, second chances, and unplanned transitions. Wait just a little longer, one more evening. I sat and watched the baseball game with thousands of others and it seemed the lock-down was miles away. Just give it some time, all the time it takes.

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Sitting out in the garden has now become a wondrous experience, looking at all that has emerged from the soil of hopeless despair to the burning sun of tomorrows yet to be. It’s gonna be really hot as each day passes. Are you sure you want to start sprouting in this heat? But it is a very different time in garden now than it was at first.

Maybe whatever that’s heavy on your heart or mind these days just needs you to stop for a little bit, put it down, step back and just give it some time. Like sliding that cake back into the oven for a few more minutes. Instead of fretting about your feeling of powerlessness or stewing about mistakes, try to just give it some time. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, people and situations need distance, space and days to go by before what will be, will be.

Now, as I sit in the evenings I’m planning where to dig the new holes and introduce the new additions to what’s already on the move. What a completely different feeling. Just give it some time. 

“You have to imagine
a waiting that is not impatient
because it is timeless.”
― R.S. Thomas

Waiting Always Matters

“For a while” is a phrase whose length can’t be measured. At least by the person who’s waiting.” ― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

Waiting is a necessary part of living. How well have you mastered the skill of just waiting? Usually I’m very impatient. Sometimes, when I’m more thoughtful, I can sit down and wait for what I know will surely come (one way or another).

Think about all the waiting you have to do while you live your life…

  •  Waiting in line at the grocery store too long because you still can’t pick a fast moving line (there’s always someone ahead who’s going to dig out her checkbook, right?)
  • Waiting at the doctor’s office. Why did I schedule this appointment so late in the day when every other appointment is backed up?
  • Waiting in traffic, welcome to Houston. Hasn’t that road been under construction since Dolph Briscoe was governor?
  • Waiting for that baby to walk his first steps. What’s the hurry? He’ll be gone one day too soon. Enjoy every minute that he has to be carried about.
  • Waiting for an answer to that prayer you’ve been asking again and again. Makes you wonder, is God even listening to me anymore?

“I hated waiting. If I had one particular complaint, it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation. I expected — an arrival, an explanation, an apology. There had never been one, a fact I could have accepted, were it not true that, just when I had got used to the limits and dimensions of one moment, I was expelled into the next and made to wonder again if any shapes hid in its shadows.” ― Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

I don’t need to remind you that you are living in the fastest society in the history of the world. We are bathed in fast information, fast work, fast food, fast schedules, fast relationships, fast transitions into adulthood and even fast thinking.

This world we’ve made has probably produced in us a razor thin tolerance for waiting. What’s the value in waiting and the time it takes from the fast life we think is normal? Psychologist Stephanie Brown has come to believe that we even fear waiting (slowing down).

“Waiting turns men into bears in a barn, and women into cats in a sack.” ― Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven

So often there are big things in life that we can’t fix ourselves. These are matters that must be left in the hands of God. Anyone who has waited on God knows how  agonizing, frustrating, and discouraging these times can be.

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

When I’m in a situation that calls for a time of waiting for God’s will to come about there are a number of things to remember:

  1.  I really do want God’s plan and not my own.
  2.  Waiting can bring out the better in me. Sitting still, praying, reflecting and putting things into their right perspective always bears fruit.
  3.  Waiting calls for action on my part. When I wait on God I work with great effort at praying, writing, reading and reflecting. There is much to do while waiting.
  4.  Often, while waiting, I realize that what I thought I needed from God was a mistake. After serious spiritual reflection, I misunderstood my situation and what God was already busy doing.

I’m sure there are other great lessons that could be added to this list. I’m not there yet. I’ve got more waiting to do.

What about you? Are you waiting these days? Do you need to stop what you’re doing right now and start waiting? That’s where I am at this point in my life.

“Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.”  ― J.I. Packer, Knowing God