I just bought a house (yes, I will keep continue to scrape the barrel of this life experience until I’m out of material, thank you very much). But I didn’t just buy a house. First we decided we wanted a house and had to save up a lot of money for it. Then we went to viewing after viewing to work out which one we wanted. Then we put an offer in and that offer wasn’t quite high enough so we put another offer in. That got accepted and then there was so much paperwork, interspersed with periods of waiting for seemingly nothing and getting freaked out. We got the mortgage. We exchanged contracts. We completed, and then we finally got the keys.
And when I tell people this, they tend to not feel my pain. Apparently this whole saga of buying a house was actually pretty short, as buying houses go. There was no horrific chain. We weren’t trying to sell a house at the same time. But the distance between wanting and getting a house felt huge. We’d decided on this so long ago, and over the past year we just kept saying to each other, “Why don’t we have a house yet?”
Even though there’s a lot to do when you move house, the main thing I found myself doing was waiting – and it feels like it’s the same for almost everything in life. You know something is physically wrong but you have to wait for appointments, tests, a diagnosis, treatments, different treatments, perhaps even surgery. You feel called to move to Africa and become a missionary but you have to get the money together, or your team, or a whole host of other things. Maybe you want kids but it can be years before you get pregnant or the adoption papers are signed, or you really want to get married but you’re still waiting to find the right person, or you’ve found the right person but they’re not ready yet.
And so, we wait.
Waiting feels passive; it feels like nothing is happening, like things aren’t moving along. Whether you’re waiting to get over something, to reach a goal or to make a big change, it’s hard to be patient while you wait – and it’s even harder to understand what exactly it is you’re waiting for. If I’m honest, I’m not always the best at waiting. And, if I’m brutally honest, I often give God a good talking-to. I say, “I thought you wanted this for me – what’s the hold up?” I know that everything happens in His perfect timing, but couldn’t His timing hurry up a little bit?
But then I think back to those times during which I’ve had to wait. I think about the long periods of being unemployed, which meant I ended up being exactly where I needed to be when the right job came along. I think about the long lapse of time between me deciding I wanted to go out with James and me actually going out with him, and how fundamental that time was in shaping me as a person – a person who, hopefully, James quite likes now. And yes, we had to wait a while before we got the keys to our new house, but that meant that we had more time left to spend with the family-neighbours who live in our building (yes, three out of five of the building’s flats were occupied by my relatives – it’s been an interesting few months).
I wish I had hindsight in advance. I wish I knew, in the words of Pocahontas, what’s just around the river bend, but that’s not how life works. Only God knows what He’s up to. You may think you’re ready to get going, but maybe God is doing something more with this change than helping just you. Maybe he needs to bring other people together for this – you think you’re in your own movie, but actually this is just your origin, solo story before you team up with your personal Avengers. You are just one thread in a giant, intricate tapestry of the universe, and weaving it all together requires a little time and, unfortunately, timing.
Only God has memory in reverse, and only He knows what’s going to happen because he’s outside of time – he’s already done it, doing it and yet to do it. It’s up to us to have faith in the adventures he has in store, and patience to know those adventures will come at the right time – or that he’ll bring along different, even better changes that we never would have thought of. It’s not easy, and I think it’s perfectly OK to get a little bit grumpy about it from time to time. But at least it’s good to know that waiting is not the same as doing nothing; it’s an exercise in faith and trust and, if Peter Pan is to be believed, that’s two out of three things you need to fly.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett, Deputy Editor, Liberti