Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wandering and Waiting
Clearing housing was a bear- much worse than I thought it would be. However, none of that matters in the light of the fact that we passed! Now all the fun of moving in begins. We are somewhat ahead in the game, considering that since we moved in town we don't have the piles and piles of boxes. Instead, we have piles and piles of loose stuff! In some ways that may be worse.
This house is different in a lot of ways from our other one. It has a basement and a garage, which is nice. It has a teeny, tiny kitchen and two bathrooms. And lots of other small things. So, I was standing in the shower yesterday (I do a lot of good thinking with hot water running over my head) and I started thinking about how I was frustrated with all the work to be done. It is hard dividing things in between different spaces. I have no room in my kitchen- precisely, no drawers, and weird lazy susan cupboards that hardly hold anything. Also, since we only had one bathroom before, I had everything all together in our big linen closet right next to it, and now I have to figure out how to split it up between two bathrooms that aren't close to each other. It made me crabby. And I thought to myself, "I wish I only had one bathroom, that was so much easier. And less to clean, too."
Now, don't get me wrong. There were definitely days that I tried to be thankful about only one bathroom. But most of the time (especially when I was pregnant) I would complain about it to no end. And I would dream of the day when I would have two bathrooms. I wouldn't have to share with the kids and all their bath toys, and there would never be a line for the toilet. I also thought of how wonderful it would be to have a basement or a garage to store all the Christmas decorations and JBF stuff that I always had to put up with in the laundry room.
I was not being thankful for what I have in my new house because I want it to all be put together and organized NOW. I don't want to have to put up with the slow process of sorting everything out, trying one spot and then needing to move things to another. I don't want to have to decide what I should keep in one bathroom and put in the other. I don't want to tromp up and down two flights of stairs 45 times a day. I don't want to find things while losing others. I want it to be my way ASAP. I don't want to wait.
That was when I realized: gratitude and patience go hand in hand. I can't be thankful for what I have now, because I want what I know is coming, or what I know can happen. I don't want to endure any temporary pain, or even discomfort. I want it right, right away. I don't want to have a journey to my destination, I want to tele-transport like Star Trek. Instant gratification.
Which is an oxymoron. You can't truly appreciate something until you have something to contrast it with. Truly, apart from God, we can not understand pleasure without pain, good without bad. But that requires patience. I couldn't help but think of the Israelites. Whining and complaining in the desert. Moaning and groaning because "things were so much better in Egypt".
"Didn't we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
"The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
Doesn't sound very grateful to me. Doesn't sound very patient either. The Israelites had just been rescued from slavery. And not run-of-the-mill, do my laundry, cook my dinner, slavery. Not that that would be so great, either, but they had been under a firstborn killing, make bricks with no straw, complete disregard for religion, backbreaking, soul-stealing, regime of forced labor of the worst kind. And they wanted to go back! And simply because they weren't getting what they wanted when they wanted it.
The first quote is when they were standing before the Red Sea. I will cut them a little slack in this situation. But God performed a mighty, amazing, death-defying miracle. The second quote however, is once the journey had begun. The people were angry because they were hungry. They wanted to be satisfied instantly. They were so impatient and focused on themselves that they couldn't remember every mind-blowing thing that the Lord had already done for them. They couldn't remember the exultant exit from Egypt, departing with all the riches of the land. They had already forgotten the dual triumph of the Red Sea, when they walked across on dry land and the "horse and his rider were swept into the sea". All they could think about what their present sufferings, which were really nothing in comparison to what they had already endured. They could not find contentment in their current circumstances because they had no patience to wait for what was to come. They ended up wandering because they wouldn't wait. They were forced to wait until they learned some gratitude.
In light of all that, I have to choose to be thankful for what I have and remember the oh-so-recent miracle of passing our inspection. I have to be patient and believe that it will be revealed to me in time. I need to be grateful for the chance to organize two bathrooms and a basement- because I need to be able to find joy in the here and now, without demanding perfection. It will all come together in time, but there can be gratefulness in the waiting. I don't want to have to learn the hard way.