Tuesday, July 9, 2013

a time for everything

1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,

    a time for war and a time for peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

As everything continues to feel like it's happening all at once, this passage has been a real comfort to me. The past few weeks I've been making changes, preparing for a new life down South. I've been full of anticipation, daydreaming of of all things new; friendships, old fashioned bicycles, salty sea breezes, and sunsets. Every conversation screamed life. And then, just like that... my grandma passed away. 

I never once heard my grandad call her Gloria. She was always his "Gogie." And I always loved that.

After a lifetime spent on opposite ends of the east coast, I was blessed enough to spend the past two years just half an hour away from her. For as long as I can remember, she has been a golden example of the kind of person I want to be. She was relentlessly generous, quick to smile, invested, always sunny. In short, she lived that simple life I'm hoping for; one centered on faith, family, friendships, and a sweet tooth for the little things. She demonstrated love. I can't think of a single life event she wasn't there for, always making the long trip down from Pittsburgh. She made everyone feel special. Even sitting across from her in a crowded diner, splitting a plate of french fries, her eyes sparkled as she told me old stories and made me feel like they were secrets just between the two of us. It's one of my favorite memories of her. I just remember hearing her talk about her youth and meeting my grandad and thinking, 'Wow. She's really something,' hoping that maybe someday someone would think the same of me.

It's easy to look at the life she led and the person she was and be completely overwhelmed. I've admitted it before and it's no different now even though I know she had 61 years on me, but I struggle with comparisons. It seems ridiculous that I would even fleetingly compare my chapter in life with the final page of hers, but there it is. I'm flawed. Right down to my core, I long for all that she had; the love story, the family, her ability to instantly make you feel at home, the magic touch she had with soups. And it's hard not to look at all that and not be frustrated with that feeling that I'm just... stuck. Perpetually stuck. Like I'm never going to be like that. Like I'm always going to be on my own. Normally I wouldn't share this because it's just plain embarrassing to show how messy your heart is, how broken you are, that you're struggling every day, but I feel like... I should for some reason! I don't know! As a single lady, it's all too easy to wallow and quote Bridget Jones' Diary: "I suddenly realized that unless something changed soon I was going to live a life where my major relationship was with a bottle of wine... and I'd finally die, fat and alone, and be found three weeks later half-eaten by wild dogs." If you're in my shoes and this kind of thought never crosses your mind, then let's hang out, because I'd like that to rub off on me! I want so badly to get un-stuck. How do you get the kind of life you want when it seems to depend on so many people other than you? When you're not exactly the one in control?

And that! Right there. That's my weakness. It doesn't depend on me, it doesn't depend on other people, it rests entirely on God's shoulders. How quick I am to forget. Not only that He has me right where He wants me, but that there is truth in those words. "There is a time for everything." Life can feel like it's happening all at once, but there's a season for every little thing. There's no rush. After all, the passage goes on to say... 
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it." -Ecclesiastes 3:11-14
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Everything. Every. single. thing. Time flies, time crawls, but God is the time-keeper. He has planted holy desires in your heart for a reason and when-- when, not if-- they are fulfilled, you will understand the utter perfection of His timing. If the desires of your heart come from God, why do you fear and tremble? God is love and love never quits, so you do the math. Side note: I'm preaching to myself here. 

The life I want is not the prize. A partner and witness to my life is not the prize. God is the prize. Through all these changing seasons, I will take heart and focus on that. Some days it might feel like I'm being dragged backwards, going in the direction completely opposite to the one I'm hoping to go in. But an arrow must be dragged backwards in order to go forward, released at precisely the right moment to hit its mark.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." God's ways are lovelier than mine. He's proven this time and time again. He has given every cause for rejoicing. The life of a loved one, a family that surrounds, friends that support, the promise of His unfailing faithfulness. He has an everlasting love for you that you cannot fathom, a way carved out for you that is far and above your wildest dreams. Trust it. Trust Him. Be still. Be at peace. And just be the kind of person who's really something. Because you are. You already are.

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still." -Exodus 14:14