I always giggled when she said that because it put a funny visual in my head. But the truth is, I took a lot of wisdom out of that one little phrase that was part joke and part reminder that God is timeless and that He literally has all the time in the world to do whatever He sees fit whenever the timing is exactly right. Sometimes we have desires or needs that we want resolved immediately. Hurts we want healed. Relationships we want restored. Pain that we beg to subside. Grief that seems interminably long. We cry out to God and say "Hey, you're God. Why can't you just fix this, already!" Or something to that effect. We pray and we wait. And wait. We stretch our faith and try to keep the flicker of hope alive as we keep on waiting. Eventually, we may be forced to move on and just hope for the best. Can you relate?
Here's a story to illustrate my point:
Once upon a time, when I was a young girl, I had that intense and overpowering experience of my first real love. He was a great guy and I thought he was perfect in every way. He was tall and handsome and strong. I had never met anyone who made me feel so special and cherished. I thought about him constantly and when we were apart, I counted the minutes until I would see him again. I was so in love and so in awe of him that I thought he was the knight in shining armor in my Cinderella story. I fantasized about all of the places we would go and things we would do together. We would be Mr.and Mrs. fabulously, perfectly happy. I was young and naive. I thought we would love each other forever and live happily ever after.
Enter: reality. My family life was falling apart. His family wasn't crazy about me or the status of my family life.(I don't blame them). I started to be afraid that he would be like so many other males I had trusted in my life and he would leave me. I had some worthiness issues. People close to me whispered into my ear that I wasn't good enough for him and that if I held onto him, I would drag him down with me and would that really be fair? Was I that selfish? Would loving me ruin his life or his future? I knew he sincerely loved me. I knew he was willing to take care of me. I knew he would stand by me but I allowed people to convince me that he would stay with me out of obligation. That he would stay by my side because he was an honorable guy and he felt sorry and responsible for me. Eventually he would see me as a liability. This pricked at my pride. Those castle walls I had imagined began to crumble. In my desperation, I began to put up emotional walls of my own. I began to rebel. I hurt him and pushed him away. I was nobody's charity case. I'm sure you can see where this is headed. To make a long story short, I began to make a series of disastrous choices that coincided with the time that I was thrown out into the world as an emancipated minor. I was afraid and alone and had lost all hope of retrieving my knight or my fairy tale. Just for good measure, by my naive and foolish actions, I blew up the castle and my heart was shattered into a million pieces in the process. ~The end
Well, not exactly. God had a plan for my life. I had a destiny to fulfill. I began trudging through the mud with the faint glimmer of hope that somehow, I would survive. I fell down and got back up countless times. I made bad choices and learned some tough lessons. Eventually, I began to work harder and make better choices. My God supplied all of my needs, if not necessarily all of my wants. As I matured and healed, I felt more and more hopeful that I would find that pure kind of healthy, unconditional love I had felt when I was younger. I let that be my ideal goal. To experience that happy ending that I believed God had meant for me. In fact, that young love experience taught me some of the most valuable lessons about love and relationship that I needed to learn in order to weed my garden of undesirables. I'm hard headed and I made mistakes but never gave up hope and prayed that when my prince finally came, I would be worthy and I would be ready for him. It took a LONG time. Remember? God is old and he's slow. Still...David came into my life at just the right time. Handsome, strong, capable and compassionate, he swept me off my feet into a life of love and security that is way more than I ever imagined and is better than I deserve. I am loved and cherished. My prayers were answered. Our family is built on a firm foundation of faith and trust. Things are great in love and life. I'm living out my fairy tale in real time.
But...there's more to the story and I'm sharing all of this personal stuff to make a point and I'm hoping it helps some of you.
Through the years, I had never really resolved the guilt and the sadness that was buried in the old rubble. I felt there was unfinished business to be dealt with. I felt I owed my former knight an explanation and an apology. I knew he had moved on and found a happy ending of his own and I was truly happy for him. Still there was a disturbance in the force, as it were, and I had held on to the pain and regret and dragged it behind me like a punishment. I even carried around a box of memorabilia with his name on it containing letters, napkins, swizzle sticks, goofy mementos and old photographs. On particularly bad days, I would drag out this box and weep rivers of regretful tears into it. The memories were comforting and painful at the same time. I guess in a way, I thought I deserved the pain and anguish. One Monday night (the same night that Joe Theismann broke his leg on Monday Night Football...yes, I'm that old...) God whispered to me through my tears that it was time to throw away the box and everything in it, including the guilt and the regret. I didn't want to obey. I stood outside under the stars on a cold, clear Dallas night, and held onto my box in front of my apartment dumpster for a long time. I didn't have the strength to let it go. I hugged the box harder and contemplated forgetting the whole thing and going back in. In that moment, I felt God's presence and a whispered promise that He would make all of my wrongs right and would give me an opportunity for resolution. The only catch was that I knew had to throw the box and the residual emotions out once and for all. With a shout of anger and grief, I hurled the box up and over the top of the dumpster and winced as I heard it's contents clinking and banging to the hollow bottom. I stood silently in the darkness and the cold and cried a while longer, then finally turned away and went inside, pulled the covers over my head and fell into an exhausted sleep. From that day on, I waited for God to fulfill his promise. Nothing happened that week or that month. Or that decade. I moved on and hoped for the best. Time marched on and so did I. The pain gradually subsided but I still prayed for peace in my spirit.
Fast forward to this week. David knows this whole story, as we were really close friends and had shared a lot of our personal triumphs and tragedies before our relationship turned into a romantic one. He has always understood me. He knows I'm soft-hearted and sentimental and that I cannot stand unresolved conflict. He knows that this issue has bothered me for a long time but that I had put it into God's hands. He's been urging me to reach out to people and to trust God to provide healing and resolution with anyone I might feel I needed to. In his words, "You have a lot to gain and nothing to lose." That's my prince. He's supportive and awesome like that. That's one of many reasons why I love him so much! A month or so ago, The knight had found me on Facebook and this week I finally summoned the courage to write to him. He responded and, just as God promised me, all those years ago, there was communication. There was resolution. There was mutual respect and we were able to finally tell each other we were glad our paths had crossed all those years ago and wished each other every happiness. He has a beautiful, loving wife and awesome kids. His story is a successful one and I'm so gratified by that. Decades later, all is well. Finally finding peace took a LONG time. But as you know, God is old and he's slow. :)
You may be praying and believing for something that seems to be taking FOREVER. You may be in a painfully dry season. I would encourage you to remember that although God may seem slow, He is never too late and is always on time. Sometimes it takes a lifetime of lessons and experiences to get us in position to fulfill our potential and purpose in Him. I know that my relationship with David is stronger because it is built on honesty and openness. I know that God had always intended for me to have the family I have (and the testimony that comes with it) from the beginning. I don't know why things went down the way they did but because of the difficulties and trials I've been through, my faith is strong and I trust God with every detail of my life. I hope you will take away from this story that God really will give you beauty for your ashes. That healing can come out of our deepest hurts and that sometimes we have to be reduced to rubble so we can be reconstructed on the solid foundation of God's love. It's a process and God may be old and slow but His perfect design for your life will always be worth the wait! Just keep moving forward and continue trusting the plan. When it gets to be too much or you get discouraged, remember what God says:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~Isaiah 55:8-9