Have you ever felt a little lost? Have you ever wondered what your God-given purpose really is?
A few months ago, that's how I was feeling—lost and wondering about my purpose. Then, an amazing opportunity came my way. It was a dream come true, and I was excited! I was going to have the opportunity to pursue my heart’s desire, and I couldn’t wait to dive in.
But soon afterward, it became quite obvious that the timing was not right. I felt overwhelmed by the monumental task that was in front of me, and anxiety overcame me. Suddenly, I knew this opportunity was not quite right, and God was clearly asking me to wait.
At first, I was very disappointed. "Wait, Lord? Why? This is my heart's desire!" But in reality, I was struggling in my health. I was worn down and worn thin. And in God’s wisdom, He was telling me to wait, because this was not the best time to add one more thing to my plate.
Even though I was disappointed at this realization, through God’s invitation to wait, I received a profound amount of grace to say no.
“For God alone my soul waits in silence.” —Psalm 62:1
I still wondered about my purpose, but my heart began to settle into waiting.
Then, I received my third health diagnosis in one year. On the day of the news, my heart sank. “I just want to feel normal. I just want enough energy to be a good wife, mom and friend,” I prayed to the Lord. I felt sorry for myself, because I couldn’t keep up with everything on my to-do list. I felt discouraged when I fell behind on my deadlines. I tried so hard to live a “normal" life, but I was running myself ragged.
As I sat in the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel, I asked God for an audible message—a message that would clearly tell me what to do. "What is your purpose for me, Lord?" As I sat in the silence, gazing at Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, a wave of peace rested upon me. I realized that God already gave me a message and a purpose. And that was to wait.
“But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” —Micah 7:7
Often when we think of waiting, we assume it is a waste of time. Like the type of waiting that happens in a long checkout line or in traffic. That type of waiting is filled with anxiety, and in that waiting, we look ahead to where we are going. It feels like we are running late, and we wonder what else we could be doing. We want to be anywhere but waiting.
Waiting in silence for God, however, is a completely different type of waiting. This type of waiting is not meant to be passive or filled with distraction. Rather, this waiting has purpose; it is active. It extends a certain peace and patience.
When we wait with God and for God, of course we are excited about what we are waiting for. But there is something good, content and desirable in the waiting itself. It is needed for the next chapter, so to speak, because the waiting is also a chapter, and without it, the next chapter may never happen; the book may end too soon.
For me, it is clear that God’s invitation to wait is a pathway to slowing down, growing stronger, and restoring hope.
"But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." —Isaiah 40:31
I cannot help but notice the perfect timing of God's invitation to wait: the season of Advent.
During the season of Advent, God calls us to wait in silence and in stillness for the coming of His Son, Jesus. The darkness of night, illuminated by the candlelight from the Advent wreath, helps us to slow down. Following the Jesse Tree tradition of reading the Bible from Creation to Incarnation reminds us of how long the Jewish people waited for the Messiah, and yet, all of their stories, everything that happened in the waiting, pointed toward the Savior. The daily Gospel readings encourage us to be active in our waiting, as we make room in our hearts and homes for the King of kings.
“Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence … In silence we hear so much that is beautiful,” said Dorothy Day.
For me, and perhaps for you, waiting will last longer than the Advent season. And that's okay! God's invitation to wait gifts us with a closeness and a "being with" God that is truly worthwhile. In the waiting, we can pour our hearts out to God. And we can listen to His message of love, mercy, peace and joy—the message we may only hear as we wait.
Copyright 2015 Sarah Damm