The Art of Waiting

When I walked into the kitchen this morning, I was met with some enthusiastic shouts of, “Sprout! Sprout! Sprout!” I turned to C with a curious look and repeated, “Sprout?” It took me a few seconds, but then I realized what she was referring to … her strawberry plant had FINALLY sprouted!!!

Here’s the sprout in all its glory!

Now, in case you don’t appreciate the magnitude of this news, let me tell you what it took for this little sprout to grow. According to the directions that came with the plant, it takes anywhere from 2 to 3 months for it to sprout. That equates to 60 to 90 days of watering, “sunning” and … waiting. That last part was definitely the hardest part of this journey for C. Every single morning she would wake up, go downstairs and check her plant. Then she’d record what day it was on her chalkboard. Day 1 turned into Day 15, then Day 33, then Day 58. When she reached Day 60, she exclaimed, “It’s been 2 months! Why isn’t it growing?” And I started to see the glimmer of hope in her brown eyes flicker. I continued to encourage and remind her that the instructions said 2 to 3 months (all the while, half-hoping and half-doubting that we’d see any results).

All hope was lost about two weeks ago when C was tossing a ball around the house and accidentally knocked the whole pot over! She called me for help—her voice low and flat—and showed me the damage. Most of the soil remained in a clump on the floor, but some of it had been scattered into pieces and had to be vacuumed up (RIP strawberry seeds!). I tried to keep my tone hopeful as I swept up the pieces and put them back into the pot. “Let’s wait and see!”

And wait we did. It got to the point where C decided to invest in a new succulent plant and transferred her ownership of the strawberry plant to hubby this week. She did still care about it though because she’d whisper to me, “Bob (short for Baba) didn’t water the plant today!” 😉 But all her hard work during the previous days and weeks and months had been worth something because after 72 days, it sprouted. 🙂

AT LAST!!

I told her, “Yay! I’m so proud of you! You persevered!” Her eyes lit up as she took the pot in her hands and gazed at the little green shoot. It was a defining moment in her life, folks. 🙂 And I mean that in a serious way.

Waiting has always been hard for C. She’s just wired differently from my other munckin (who shall not be mentioned on my blog anymore at his request, hehe), and it’s part of her nature to want results NOW. (Hmm, I wonder who she got that from—not me, cough cough!). So when she had first decided to grow this plant, I was very hesitant. All these thoughts ran through my mind: What if it never grows? What if she gives up after a few weeks? What if she’s terribly disappointed? Okay, so I was hesitant and doubtful. But as a parent, I’ve learned that you need to let kids experience struggle because it’s during the hard times that they learn the most. They learn about how the world works (you can’t always have immediate gratification) and they learn about how they themselves work and how they can change and adapt and grow to be more well-rounded people.

For C, she needed (and still needs) to learn the art of waiting. To be honest, we can all benefit from this lesson. Nobody likes to wait. Whether it’s waiting in line at the store, or waiting for your child to outgrow his tantrums, or waiting for the next job promotion, or waiting to find your spouse … there’s a whole lot of waiting going on in life. To master the art of waiting, however, requires 2 parts: hoping and doing. To hope without doing anything, well, you might as well forget seeing any results. C could have hoped all she wanted that her plant would grow, but without watering it daily, it would never have had a chance. And to do without hoping would be a pointless effort as well because it’s the hoping that inspires you to keep going; as in C’s case, her hope in the plant’s growth kept her watering it every single day. So, Hoping + Doing = The Art of Waiting

I admit this world gets me down a lot (especially when I read the news), but I also have hope that something better will come, that this life is not the end. I think this hope must have been what Jesus’s followers were feeling and hanging onto thousands of years ago when all seemed lost on that dark day when He hung on the cross. They really had the ultimate test of waiting it out as they held on to the hope that something would happen, that change would come in three days. And boy, they were not disappointed! When they heard and saw that Jesus had come back to life, that He had defeated death, that must have been an amazing morning. A hopeful morning. An it-doesn’t-get-better-than-this morning. 🙂

I hope you and yours have that kind of a morning this Easter as we reflect and celebrate the significance of Jesus’s death and resurrection in our lives. And may we also come to believe that good things—growth, change and results—do come to those who wait. 😉 Have a Good Friday and Happy Easter!

What have you gone through to help you master the art of waiting?

The Quest for Perfection

I was a naive freshman in college, walking around with a load of books on my back and a new, strange world of possibilities in front when someone posed this question to me:

“Do you think it’s possible for us to be perfect and without sin? Even for just one second? Like maybe when you’re in the middle of worshipping God?”

That someone was my small group leader, an outgoing, assertive girl two years older than me. We were sitting in her apartment, along with a couple of other freshman girls, talking about the Bible. The discussion was interesting, if not ordinary, until that question popped up.

There was silence, and something in my brain or heart didn’t feel right about her theory. I had sat through enough sermons and Sunday school lessons to know that the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross was to save us from our sins. If we could be perfect for even a second, why would we need to be saved? Couldn’t we then try a little harder to be perfect until we got good at it? That’s a rhetorical question of course. Even if we did everything we possibly could think of, or didn’t do anything at all, we still wouldn’t get any closer to perfection.

Because perfection is not a feeling or an act or thought or even a state of being. It’s more an essence, something intrinsic, and at the core.

But the thing is, even though we can’t achieve perfection, we’re always on the quest for it. We want the best results at school or work, we want the ideal marriage, we want the healthiest kids. We even want the cleanest and shiniest produce at the grocery store. (Tell me I’m not the only one who inspects a dozen pieces of fruit before picking the “perfect” one. LOL)

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/freedigitalphotos.net

Why then do we have an obsession with perfection? Maybe because we were made to appreciate beauty. To be drawn to wholeness. To desire goodness.

Perfection isn’t a bad thing. But when we look around at the world, and the people in it, and especially ourselves, we see quite the opposite. There’s a lot of imperfection out there and there’s just as much in us, too.

Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? But it isn’t.

It’s a good thing we can’t be perfect and without sin. Not even for one millisecond. Because the burden to be perfect would be too great. It would crush us. Instead, it crushed the only Perfect One who took our place on the cross. That’s the perfection of the Gospel. That’s why tomorrow is Good Friday and Easter Sunday is even gooder. 🙂

Perfection isn’t the enemy. But if we’re going to pursue perfection, may we pursue Jesus, the only one who can make us whole.

Take a listen to Tori Kelly’s song, “Hollow”, which she has described (when she was a guest mentor on The Voice) as her prayer to God. I love these lyrics:

“I confess my weakness
Till you pick up the parts that are broken
Pour out your perfection on me now”

What have you been chasing in your quest for perfection?

Less Square and More Hip

Jesus is so not square!

This was a revelation of mine recently. You would think that someone who’s been going to church for close to three decades and attended seminary (for a counseling degree, not theology, mind you!) would have a better understanding of who Jesus is. Unfortunately, all those Sunday school stories went in through one ear, straight through my very square mind, and out the other without making much sense to me. I suppose I’m just so accustomed to viewing things through my perspective that it’s hard to think of things in an un-square way.  😛

When it comes to God, the creator of the universe, I have no problems understanding Him. I think we’re kinda on the same page. I mean, I’m pretty sure He is a perfectionist because if He had put the earth even a mile closer or farther away from the sun, it would be uninhabitable. And God is the one who came up with the ten commandments, which means He likes rules, and square people always follow the rules. 🙂

Jesus, on the other hand, is so out of the box! He healed a blind man by putting mud, mixed with His own spit, on his eyes. To be honest, that sounds just a teeny bit messy. He also hung out with people who were shunned by society, and not in a ke-chi kind of way either (translation = be polite even though you don’t mean it), but with genuine acceptance and concern.

So like I said, I just recently realized how different Jesus and I are … and this realization makes me appreciate Him even more than before. I’m so thankful He isn’t square like me and that He’s willing to get his hands dirty, literally and figuratively, cause people (myself included!) are messy. Knowing people and loving them for exactly who they are, even when they don’t love you back, is hard work. And that’s what Jesus did when He came to this earth, died on the cross for us and rose again.

Image courtesy of bela_kiefer/freedigitalphotos.net

I used to like Christmas a lot more than Easter, but they’re equally special to me now. I see that they both represent hope, the hope that there is so much more to this life and the way things are. They also give me hope in my quest to becoming less square and more hip, just like Jesus.

Here’s a happy and hope-filled song about Jesus by Jamie Grace called “Hold Me”.

How do you see Jesus?