This was, of course, two years after I wrote a blog post reflecting on Luke 1:20 (“Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time—God’s time” [The Message]), and on how I sensed then that God was teaching me to rely on him during the days I felt I was in limbo. How to be patient, how to trust in God’s timing, not mine.
Well, last year, God must’ve decided that the time of waiting was over.
It started innocuously enough with me transitioning to full-time work in February after a hiatus of ten years. Then in March, my in-laws—who had been living with us for three-and-a-half years and helping with cooking and home maintenance—moved to their own place. In July, I had surgery to get my gallbladder removed. In August, Ferguson happened. And the protests. And the grand jury decisions. Then, in early December, I experienced an early miscarriage, my third one to date.
This is where I’m supposed to put in a bunch of Bible verses that correspond to the turmoil in my life and say God used them to help me find peace. The fact is, though, I didn’t think much about the Bible . . . or God, for that matter. I was busy adjusting to working full-time while maintaining a house that suddenly felt too big, too empty. Busy trying to figure out what was wrong with my body. Busy trying not to break down whenever Michael Brown or Eric Garner came up in the news.
And then the miscarriage happened, and everything just . . . broke.
God speaks to me in Scripture. But he also speaks to me in other ways. In this case, I stumbled upon a quote by Joseph Campbell:
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
His words came at the same time I was studying the theory of story structure: how most stories always follow a cycle of order and chaos, rest and activity. A time to work, a time to sleep. A time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens.
It was obvious that the time of waiting in my life was over. Change was finally happening, but, as in the time of waiting, it wasn’t happening on my terms, but on God’s. And he never promised that those changes will always be neat or happy. After wandering the desert for forty years, Moses never got to enter the Promised Land with the Israelites. Even though Leah bore Jacob children, she was never first in his heart like Rachel.
But despite turbulence and disappointment, one thing always remained evident in the Bible stories: God’s faithfulness. In a sense, this was a fulfillment of all those years of waiting in limbo. During that hard week while recovering from the miscarriage, I was reminded of how God walked with me, mourned with me. His peace remained with me, through both times of waiting and times of change.
Through his faithfulness, I was finally able to respond to the changes in my life:
1. By taking up the challenge: In working full-time, I rediscovered the joy of cooking. I also figured out how to continue writing while working full-time. This made me far more productive in my writing in general.
2. By changing my lifestyle: Having my gallbladder removed forced me to make healthier choices about food—and not just me, but my entire family.
3. By shifting my expectations: After the miscarriage, I’ve realized that I have come to terms with the fact that I can’t have another child naturally. While I’m still in mourning for that, I feel like new opportunities have opened for my husband and me to minister in different ways, and we’re just now beginning to explore what God has planned for us.
4. By recognizing the need for healing: This was probably the hardest for me, even more so than the miscarriage. For many years, going back to when I was a child, I’ve been struggling with pain and isolation with my Black identity, the Black community, and particularly the Black church. I feel like God is saying that now is the time to deal with those issues and bring about healing. It took a very, very long time for me to acknowledge that, and frankly, I’m afraid of being hurt again as I was in the past. But God has proven to be faithful so far, and if he wants to heal that part in my life, the only person who’s keeping him from doing that is me.
Changes can be stupid rough. They’re messy and unpredictable, and there’s no guarantee everything will turn out wonderfully. But if God can bring peace in the day-to-day monotony of waiting, he can certainly bring peace in the wild roller-coaster days of change. All I have to do is hang on tight.
LaShawn M. Wanak lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and son. She has been involved with InterVarsity since 1989 and currently works at the National Service Center in Human Resources.