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  • Writer's pictureSharon Beck-Doran

Cuz Corona, and other thoughts on waiting.

I used to think I was an expert at being single. I imagined one day, when I wasn’t on staff in church ministry, I would help open up conversations about what it’s really like to be a single person following Christ. Except, about five minutes after I started dating my soon to be husband, I forgot what it was like to be lonely and make bad decisions. Now as I recollect, I’m wondering if it would be easier to tell stories about what not to do.

The theme of my single life was waiting. As a worship pastor, I really enjoyed songs about waiting on the Lord. I thought about what it means to be really good at waiting. I know it doesn’t seem like it should be a skill, but I ascribe to the philosophy that if you do something for long enough you’ll get better at it.

Waiting on the Lord is a thing. I mean, it’s in the Bible here and there. One of my favorites is Isaiah 30.18, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore, he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” The idea that God wants to be gracious to me, just blows my mind. There’s also Romans 8.25, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Which I would read, but if we hope for [the husband] we do not yet have, we wait for [him] patiently.

I found a blog post I wrote from June of 2007 titled “The Last Woman Left.” That was the year I graduated from seminary. I had gone out with a coworker a couple of times and his ex-wife who “was still around,” whatever that means, answered my call to him. It was one of those awkward, funny, oh well, guess he’s not for me, kind of moments.

I was certainly more relieved than jealous to hear a girl’s voice, but I couldn’t help but feel a little left out. Summer seems like the season of hook ups and breakups. I was thinking about my romance of this past year. Not to sound like a selfish five-year-old, but nothing has gone like I wanted, with one exception. I have thankfully rather easily maintained my chastity. But I still wonder how long and how far away my next inspiration waits for me…

… I have lived in a lot of homes, in several cities. I know what it feels like to leave everyone you know for a strange land. I have felt like a pilgrim on an adventure, and I know how to trust that God will go with me. But what is it to stay? I suppose it is safe to assume God will still be with me, even when I’m not exactly geographically on any journey.

I stayed. I mean, I really considered going several times. In retrospect, God has for sure been with me, even when I was not geographically on a journey.

It would be another ten years of waiting before I (finally) agreed to marry Adam. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to work on myself. I needed it. I didn’t use the term “personal development.” I just started going to therapy because I realized that I had ruined my last relationship (thank goodness) with hang ups like shame and fear and worry about what other people might think. I also knew what it was like to feel like I was losing my mind, and I didn’t want to have to take medicine to feel like myself.

I get depressed sometimes. Every time I emerge with more tools to nurture my apparently fragile mind. I spent a week with my family in Reno and came back refreshed, but to the same stressful situations I had just temporarily escaped. But that little reset was enough for me to find my feet again.

I discovered podcasts. I was reaching out for help with both physical and mental health and there are like a gazillion podcasts for that. I also found several of my favorite NPR shows, like Hidden Brain and Science Friday have podcasts too! A walk by the river on a warm day listening to Shankar Vedantam, and bam! I have a new coping skill.

I also discovered meditation. I downloaded an app called Insight Timer. One of the little church ladies at Bible Study recommended it. I mean, I always thought the idea of meditation was kinda dumb, but ten minutes of deep breaths and imagining gratitude radiating out my face, I feel like a new woman. It might be my favorite thing of 2020.

With all of my expertise in waiting, you’d think I’d be better at the whole quarantine thing. Adam doesn’t seem to mind at all, but I really hate it. Video conference calls make me look like I have a triple chin. I am way thinner and roughly 10 years younger in my imagination. But mostly, I just need people. Like, really, I’m so sorry I took you all for granted.

Nonetheless, I’m taking a page from the younger me, and wondering how I might do some work on myself during this time of waiting. I’m taking a class to be a certified remodeling project manager. Reading a book with my lady pastor’s book club on the enneagram, and apparently, I’m an 8. And my husband has this crazy idea that we might do a video blog on couple’s finance. We'll see...

I’ll leave you with this thought.

Isaiah 40:31 (CEB)

31 but those who hope [KJV wait upon; NIV trust] in the Lord

will renew their strength;

they will fly up on wings like eagles;

they will run and not be tired;

they will walk and not be weary.

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