“I just want to eat,” she says with a frown, as she stares at the fruit on her plate. She is grumpy and I get it, I understand why. I remember the pain.
“I know,” I say, “and you will. The pain you are feeling today won’t last. Soon, you’ll be able to eat lots of things.”
From the look on her face, I’m pretty sure she does not believe me. After all, she’s thirteen and I am her mother, one of the least credible sources in her universe.
While I know the pain will end, she can’t see it.
My youngest daughter got braces this week. And while I must say she’s been a good sport about it all, today the pain is getting to her. Today she is sick and tired of her teeth hurting.
I’m right there with her. Only for me, it’s my back.
I’ve had back pain for four months. It’s manageable in the day, but really bad at night. I’ve done all I could to remedy it. I’ve been stretching and icing and taking Advil and getting adjusted by a chiropractor. I’ve backed off on exercise. All of this helps. So just when I start to feel better, when I get excited and anxious to get back to my old ways, I do something to exasperate it. Then I find myself back at square one. It’s getting old (apparently so am I).
As I’ve prayed about this, or rather, as I’ve complained to God about this, I can’t help but wonder why it’s happening. I’ve always been healthy. No major illnesses, no major surgeries, nary a trip to the ER that I can remember (beside the time I got hit by a car, that’s a story for another day…). Now what, God, what do I do?
How can I help myself get better? What am I doing to make this worse? How can I sleep at night in the meantime? And the scariest question of all, will I always be in this pain? Am I forever done with yoga and Pilates and strength training and long walks and early morning bike rides? (One might think I’d be much thinner with all this activity…).
I’d like to tell you God gave me a concrete answer. That he whispered in my ear that this too shall pass, and that soon I’d be downward-dogging to my heart’s content. He did not.
I’m praying and waiting and praying and waiting. Sometimes, this is how it works.
I’ve just finished Jonathan Golden’s book, Be You. Do Good. The book itself talks about how to find and pursue your calling. Jonathon is the founder of Land of a Thousand Hills, a multi-million dollar coffee company. He’s also am Anglican Pastor and Executive Life Coach. His company provides work and wages for over 2,500 Rwandan farmers and their families. Wow! He’s a driven dreamer with a lot of great advice on partnering with God as you pursue utilizing the gifts He has graced you with. But my favorite part about the book was his talk about time.
Golden explains that in English we have just one word for time, but that in Greek there are two words to describe different kinds of time. Chronos refers to time on the clock, how much time we have in a given day. Kairos refers to opportunity, the time when you are in a prime moment of life and seize what is before you. Think of the unknown recording artist who happens to be in the elevator with a music producer. The artist just happens to have a copy of his music with him and seizes the opportunity to give his music to the producer.
Golden goes on to talk about how when we go after our calling, we are sure to face challenges. He stresses the importance of learning to get through these times instead of trying to force outcome in a certain direction. When difficulties arise, we must be patient, pray and wait on God. Kairos will come, in God’s time, not ours. This is the part that stuck with me.
Though I am wired to act, to solve my own problems in life, I am better if I am in sync with God’s plans for me. I must partner with him, not just in the pursuit of my calling, but in all aspects of my life. There are times I wish it didn’t work this way. I wish God would just wave his magic wand for those of us who are giving a life a faith the old college try. But unfortunately, one can’t abandon all faith during the crappy parts of life. The pain-in-the-back parts. The part your when braces hurt like heck.
Looking at my daughter, I finally hear for myself the words I just said to her. And I realize, even though God didn’t whisper it in my ear, it’s true; This too shall pass.
“Would you like a milkshake?” I say to my daughter.
Her eyes immediately light up. It may not be the most nutritious dinner, but it will get her through.
Accepting where I am, trusting where God is taking me, and getting through, this is the life of faith.