I do weird things in waiting rooms.
I do this odd, fidgety dance thing with my feet. It makes my kids cringe. I study the patterns of the sweaters people wear. I imagine what the guy flipping hamburgers did to merit the name Lucius. I wonder why the person behind me smells like spearmint and patchouli then I try to figure out if I like the smell. I think I do! One time, my friend and I had a staring contest while quoting “Little Mermaid” and standing in line for the porta-potty. I ended up not needing the porta potty because we laughed so hard that I pee’d my pants. True story.
There is one waiting place that was utterly blank for me though. It was my uncle’s kitchen. I was thirteen. It was January and I was freezing. A phone call had just come saying that Dad was injured while on his run. All of the adults scrambled out the door for the hospital. My cousin and I were left to watch the little kids. I felt weary and cold in my very bones. The kitchen felt lifeless, despite being surrounded by life.
So while they were with Dad at the Hospital, I was left here to Hope which I was discovering that I suck at profoundly. I stood at the window watching my younger brothers play outside. How utterly innocent they were as they played in the frozen yard. How entirely ancient every second that passed made me feel. I decided pretty quickly that this Hope thing isn’t for the faint-hearted. I had been wrestling with Hope for about two hours and I was exhausted. I knew in my soul that something was broken and it was more than my Dad's foot or leg. I was...
Frozen and waiting.
Numb and waiting.
Broken and waiting.
I had been taught to pray. I broke away from watching the kids and knelt in my cousin’s bedroom.
“Lord, please bless Dad to be okay” I asked clumsily because what else was I gonna say? I felt warmth wash through me and the gentlest nudge whisper to my heart…
“It’ll be okay.”
As an adult, I look back on that moment and I want to hold her, my little 13 year old self. I would tell her that what she was doing in that moment, practicing Hope, isn’t a wasted effort. That it was working it’s magic inside her and will grow into mighty things. But mostly I just want to hold her.
Later that frozen January night, I laid in my mom’s bed with my siblings around me and waited for sleep. The haze of the day couldn’t cloud my grief. There was the drive home, the stumbling in the house where my mom told me that dad was dead. There was the sadness, the bargaining, the demanding to see him, the outpouring of love, the prayer. It was too much feeling to be contained in one day. In that moment, it kinda felt like too much for one lifetime. So I dared to double check with God.
“Is this what you meant by ‘it’ll be ok’? Because this feels like the opposite of okay.” I whispered angrily at the ceiling.
Again, I felt warmth.
Warmth and no sleep.
Warmth and grief.
Warmth and wondering.
“Doubting Thomas” of biblical notoriety, gets a bad rap…
As a doubter…
As a grump…
I think history has painted him wrong because everything the Savior did had a purpose.
Jesus didn’t show himself to Thomas on that Easter morning. He showed His glorious, resurrected self to the others, just not to Thomas.
Jesus gave Thomas space to practice all the truths he had learned. Eight days of space.
Eight days to figure out what he really believed and why.
Eight days to wonder. “Has He forgotten me? Does He not see me in this waiting place? Does He not care about how alone I feel while I figure out what to believe?” or my personal favorite "Why me?"
Eight days of practicing Hope.
How many of us have felt that?
Forgotten. Alone. Left out.
Here’s the truth I learn from Thomas’ story in the first Easter and my own darkest waiting room story:
Hope is never wasted.
Hope exalts the soul.
Hope carves out a place for the God to fill.
And He always shows up. God always meets us where we are.
Has the world ever felt like more of a waiting room than right now?
Do you not see us? Did you forget me, Lord? Why me?
8 days of waiting. 8 days of wondering. 8 days of practicing whatever it is you have declared to believe.
Happy Easter in this waiting place, America.
You are known. You are loved. You are seen.
And your Hope is not a wasted effort.