Navigating the waiting space

By Jessica Brodie

I’m sure we’ve all been there, and it’s not our favorite place: the waiting space. Middle ground. Limbo.

After the turmoil and hurt feelings surrounding separation and disaffiliation, as well as the angst over what is General Conference going to do (or not do), many of us are stuck in an uncomfortable and unsettled place of uncertainty.

Now what? How do we get back to normal, if there is such a thing? Do we focus on getting stronger after the pandemic? Do we look outside our walls and into the community? For those of us whose churches have left the denomination, where are we going? Have we found a new church home? What do we do with all of these emotions that are still oh-so-difficult?

The truth is that there is no easy answer to any of this. Like any waiting season in life, sometimes the answer doesn’t come for a long time.

I’m frustrated sometimes at the lack of answers. I wish there were some creative new program or mission effort I could sink my teeth into as I go about my daily Christian walk. Business as usual doesn’t feel like it’s enough at this stage.

But here’s the thing: It doesn’t really matter how I feel about it—or how you feel. And it doesn’t really matter if there is or is not some big, great project to focus on right now. These are self-imposed wants, things I think I need—not things I actually need.

What I need is to listen to God’s still small voice in the center of everything (1 Kings 19:12-13). This is the answer it has always been.

My oldest child is 17 now, and I remember 19 years ago living in the center of a painful waiting season. I struggled with infertility, and I had absolutely no idea if I would be able to conceive and eventually give birth, something I desperately wanted. Sometime during that long, long process, I made peace with where I was, and I made peace with surrendering to God’s will. And eventually, what I desired did come to fruition. I did get pregnant and give birth to my son, and now he’s in his senior year of high school.

Of course, sometimes we don’t get what we want at all. Sometimes that season of waiting has a decidedly different ending. But I do know this: When I am truly surrendered to the will of God, somehow, whatever happens ends up being OK. Actually, it’s even better than OK. It ends up being the perfect thing, the thing I wish I’d asked for from the start. That’s because God works all things for the best, “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The season of separation in The United Methodist Church is not over. I’ve been hearing about a number of local churches who are still struggling to discern what they wish to do. Many are waiting to see what happens at General Conference. Things are not over, and it’s going to be a long time before the waiting is done and things seem reasonably clear.

In this season, instead of letting strife and worry take over, let’s all lean little closer to the Lord and tune our ears to God’s special, sometimes imperceptible voice. Let’s pray for one another that we can all do this, that we can all keep our eyes on God in the center of everything. For if we can do this, if we can surrender to God’s will, anything that happens will always be just right.

After all, God plan is best—not mine.

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