It almost feels like, one of these days, I’ll write about something other than the quarantine (!!!). But that’s just exactly where we’re at over here, only our quaranTEAM has gotten a little bigger: my nephew is here for the long weekend!
I’m currently writing this to the sound of screaming over puzzle pieces and “lost” AirPods (newsflash: they’re never really lost, the teenager has simply misplaced them). Now the kids are both in my office because they want to “go drive around” and get Starbucks, and I have already told them ten million times, “not until after 3pm!”.
These sibling-like cousins SUCK at waiting.
I suck at waiting, too. I wanted a tattoo so bad at age sixteen, that my mom actually signed for me to get one. I couldn’t wait to turn 21 and “go clubbing”, so I got a fake ID in college. It was a pretty close match that turned out to be a major mistake one time when the bartender knew the real person pictured on the ID (oops!). I didn’t want to wait to have a career in LA, so when I was 26 I forced open a doorway to working in reality TV — only to realize when I got there I hated everything about the gig, especially the genre, and had needlessly wasted more than eighteen months of my life.
So yeah, you could say hating waiting is a familiar trait.
Churches in the United States hate to wait, as well.
Reading the news a couple weeks back, I spot the name of the church I grew up in (and worked for, years ago!) listed as one of the places suing the government for violating their rights by not allowing them to operate at full capacity. Then this week I watched an impassioned president wave his hands and declare that he would override local governments to ensure churches are allowed to remain open THIS WEEKEND. All churches, all sizes, with no clear guidelines in place from the CDC about how to do it safely.
Then finally, a note appears from our pastor, shared with a link — if you have four minutes to spare, watch the video below. If you don’t, i’ll give you the synopsis: our church has decided not to re-open at full capacity with the president’s blessing, but rather, to wait.
People, in general, don’t like to wait. We want answers, now, and for everything to be in terms as white and black as the ink in my first tattoo. Here’s the problem with that, though – like fresh ink fades and outstretches with wear and time, our absolutes, eventually, with life experience, give way to gray.
If there’s one thing this strange time in history has taught me, it’s that most people do not like to wait AND they do not want to live in the uncertainty of gray, of “not yet”, of waiting. But there is no blueprint for how to safely operate during a pandemic, and waiting is not the same as accepting that this is our forever. It’s simply saying no, not yet, let’s not force the outcome! Let’s sit with this and see what comes next!
I want to be adaptable, on the move with God, not stagnant in one place, so it’s been a shift for me to think of waiting as an active posture. Sometimes we think waiting is the same thing as inactivity, but, it isn’t.
I have a friend who is very pregnant with her first child, and she can tell you waiting is not the same as idleness. She is BUSY preparing her heart and home for what comes next — and this is how I see the people of God at this time. We are living in the unknown, waiting for what’s to come, and we’re utterly reliant on guidance from the spirit to lead us safely there. We’ve decided things can’t go back to the way they were before…and that maybe God doesn’t want them to.
Maybe God is doing something new with churches everywhere by making it less about the place we meet and more about why we meet, and how. We meet for the fellowship and the collective desire to learn more about God. But I’ve heard countless stories of God meeting his people during crisis wherever they’re at, from the Bible and my own circle of friends and even my Instagram feed:
God is showing up in the strings of guitars around bonfires in people’s backyards, and in cul-de-sac’s under pop up tents where neighbors are gathering to stream worship services, coffees and donuts in hand. God is meeting people in garages where they’re watching church online with their friends, taking communion with whatever’s available. God is showing up in the bible app, in studies I and my tween are doing together with kids from church — and I have to say, these kids are wiser than their years when it comes to trusting God with the uncertainty of their lives. It’s humbling to see their honest responses to everything that’s happening in the world.
I say, maybe we do church in our homes a little longer. I know community is key and people miss their people, but maybe, just maybe, THIS is where God is meeting us right now, in the mess of our actual lives. Maybe in the waiting we will learn new things about ourselves, and about our God who is a most inventive, manna-in-the-wilderness-type God who gives us exactly what we need, before we even ask.
My husband Christian is the one of those people with an amazing speaking voice who cannot carry a tune. Seriously, his voice is so sexy but he CANNOT SING. This is why I forgive him for not singing in church, even though I *love* to sing in the assembly. Yet when this whole thing started and we began doing church at home every weekend, Christian realized I *might not love* being the only person singing during the first part of the service. And this is why he stands in his robe with his hand in mine, and sings — terribly, robustly, hilariously — every weekend. It’s become my favorite part of church, the way he sings like he sincerely means every single word no matter how tone-deaf they sound coming out of his mouth. It’s made us laugh and brought us closer together as a family, and now I’m definitely not the only person singing in the living room – Lola sings, too, following his lead.
We never worshipped together this way before the quarantine, and I didn’t know how badly I needed this.
I know so many people — myself included! — who clean up for church and try their best to show up someplace for God, but with all this evidence I’m beginning to think that maybe wherever-we-are is exactly where God wants to meet us and *has* met us since the beginning of time, long before the church had a building but it still had a home, in us.
My mom has been waiting for MONTHS to see her doctor. She is unable to work even if her bakery re-opens when this is all over. Her next round of tests, which includes an endoscopy, have all been delayed since winter due to Covid-19. She wakes up in pain every single day, wondering if the meds will help — it’s really a waiting game for her that will continue whether or not megachurches are allowed to meet. With less external things to keep her mind off of it, her days in pain stretch long. Yet she is using this time to lean into God, to ask the hard questions, and to think and pray. She’s started to gain clarity about some things that have lingered in her mind for years. My mother has modeled patience for me all my life, but never more so than now, when all of us are at home.
So that’s where I’m going to be: here at home while the rest of Minnesota “turns the dial” on re-opening. I’ll keep my gatherings of film crews under 5 people and family under 10, and I’ll stay here waiting on God to come through like only God can and has done again and again. That’s the whole point of this blog: faithfulness found in the every day of my own life. I bet if you think about it, God has been pretty faithful to you, too.
In a time when staying healthy and alive is goal #1, the gift of simply waking up this morning feels like faithfulness to me.
There’s so much beauty to be found in the waiting, if we keep our eyes open to whatever God is doing and don’t try to rush things back to the way they were before. Instead of being impatient like a petulant child, let’s be found expectant — like my super pregnant friend — waiting with wide-eyes fixed on God for what comes next.
And God is so faithful to comfort us while we wait.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 New International Version
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.