As a substitute teacher I’ve learned a lot about waiting. At times, I will be requested like honey at a bear convention (cause they have those). Other times, it’s as if I don’t exist. I try not to take it personal. I typically advertise myself as much as possible when I am at a school and I try to be awesome so people will request my services again. Yeah, me!
But no matter how hard I try and how much I flex my advertisement muscles, chance and fate ultimately hold the cards to whether or not I get a job on a particular day. I hate that.
It leaves me in an interesting position. As someone who believes in the power and utility of prayer I find myself perplexed in a moral dilemma. If I pray for more work, I am essentially praying for teachers to get sick or to have some sort of personal crisis. That’s awful. And so oftentimes I do not pray for more work even when I should.
To be fair, teachers need to miss school for thousands of reasons which aren’t always negative. Recently I subbed for four days for a teacher who became a grandmother. That was a great reason. In that instance, everybody won. Baby—good. Work—good. Win-win.
But in a larger way, I am in a season of waiting. Waiting for a more stable and permanent full time teaching position (can I has job?). Waiting for circumstances to change. Waiting for something to happen to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not just sitting on my hands (most times I’m sitting on my butt). I am working in the meantime to prepare for a more fruitful season. I am applying when I see things pop up. I am emailing, networking, making phone calls for favors, and begging my students to name drop me if they hear anything from their teachers. I honestly have no shame.
Even after all that, I still have to be still and let things sort themselves out on their own time. This is typically waaaaaayyyyyyyy slower than I would like. But if I am really honest, it’s probably better this way. If I achieved success in every context of my life and saw immediate results, I wouldn’t properly appreciate the end results.
The waiting and the struggling and the failures make the victories worth winning. A story isn’t a story without conflict. We want to live in an exciting story—but would rather do without that pesky conflict part.
And so, I will practice day to day efforts—no matter if the fruit of that labor isn’t seen for years. The work we do today creates our realities tomorrow—or at least shapes our attitudes to those future realities.
I have a theory. Not only are we waiting now, but we will be forever. Waiting for something (Godot). It is our natural state to wait and hope for change of some sort. Prove me wrong.
In our present cultural context of being the richest of the rich and over stimulated with all sorts of gadgetry, long-term labor with no immediate gratification is very difficult for us to handle. We want now, now, now! Instant results! Digital speed! This is not good for our souls.
My closest friends know that I have an odd relationship with technology. Part of me is very suspicious of it and never wants to use it and to just become Amish (The Matrix trilogy really affected me). Another part of me gets totally geeked-out on it and wants machines and robots to do everything (Wall-E much?). Cause that would a good thing…
In our increasing dependence on technology, in many real ways, our species has been damaged in our ability to be patient. We aren’t farmers anymore (they exist but most of us don’t know one, and a majority of the American ones use big robots to do a bulk of the work so they aren’t as “farmerish” as others are or have been).
We don’t know what it means to anxiously wait for the rain and the beautiful sound of thunder—the hope it brings. We don’t know what it means to work together with a beast to plow a stubborn field and ready it for the sowing of seed. We don’t know what it means to work sunrise to sunset and yet be patient in our hearts knowing that if the rain and sun don’t come, our labor will be lost.
The ability to be patient and live in the tension of work and waiting is a vital skill set which farmers embody the best. They are the hardest workers on the planet and the wisest as they know that it’s more up to weather than their own labor. And yet they still work hard—and would be screwed without their work!
I smell a conundrum!
They work like it all depends on them, but know that it all depends on the rain. Chance. Fate.
But we aren’t farmers. Do farmers read blogs? I digress.
The point is, we aren’t very good with waiting for things that take a great deal of work and preparation and depend highly on outside circumstances that are not in our control.
If you haven’t already figured out, I did not get a sub job today. So I am watching the news, taking care of the apartment and writing this blog. I am writing this not for immediate gratification in the form of approval from my readers and friends (but I also am). I am writing this to remind my soul (and yours) that the best things are worth waiting for and that there is plenty to do to get ready while you wait.
At the same time, I so easily incline to make things I am hopeful for my Ultimate Hope. I think that they are going to transform everything and set my circumstances the way I want and everything will be smooth sailing. Has this ever happened? I don’t believe so. And it won’t. Ever. Once we get that thing it’s on to the next thing. We look to something else to look forward to. To complete us. To save us.
But my identity is not in what I do. When I do get that job someday it will not make all my pain and struggles go away. If anything, it will complicate my life and add changes and more work. I am not what I do or what I will do. I am redeemed creature because of what Christ did on the Cross. Hoping in Him alone is where I need to rest. Be still and know that He is God. He has done it all. He is in control. He will provide. Be still, O my soul….Oh, and get to work too cause there is so much to do!
What are you waiting for? A job? Getting into that program or school? A friend? The woman or man of your dreams? The Chiefs to have a winning season (please, Lord?)?
Whatever it may be, just know that it can’t complete you. It’s not designed to. We were made only to be complete in a relationship with the God of the Universe. That is only possible through a relationship with Jesus.
I will leave you with some quotes for your consideration. Keep working. Keep waiting. Is that thunder in the distance I hear? Have fun storming the castle.
“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become your habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.” –unknown
Find out what you can control and don’t worry about anything else. –old man I met at a friend’s house
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings." –Shakespeare from Julius Caesar