I pronounced it this weekend: This will either be a fantastic week in our household, or else a supremely crappy one. Brad and I both had irons in the fire, so to speak. Both of us were to find out about jobs we’d applied for, and we were watching with particular interest for the “early this week” deadline on the job he’s been hoping for. If he were to get the job, the holding pattern our life has been in lately would come to an end and we could finally move on with the umpteen projects that were waiting on that. If the answer came back unfavorable, we would face the bleak reality of probable prolonged unemployment, or at the very least uncertainty, since there is not much else out there for us youth minister types.
Add to this tension my discovery on Sunday that my wallet was gone and that it was most likely found by some unsavory citizen in the grocery store parking lot. And then there is the upcoming anniversary of our daughter’s death. Talk about edge of your seat.
Yesterday at 7am, the store called. Someone had turned in my wallet. Dare I hope that more good news would follow? No call came from Prospective Parish. But every time the phone rang, we both jumped a little bit. It was Father’s day off, right?
Today, Tuesday, Brad “volunteered” at his former place of employment, as a favor to his lovely wife, at our summer program. He is a manic message checker normally, so when he answered in the affirmative to my question, “so, have you been checking messages every ten minutes?” I knew he was not exaggerating. Hanging around at the church while our teens did service projects. Lunch. Walking around the zoo. Waiting for pickups. A few calls, but not the anticipated one. By this time, it was 4:40 and we were resigned to another day of waiting.
Then, in our minivan, two minutes before arriving at our home, the cell phone rang again. It was Father. And as we pulled in the driveway, I turned off the car and listened. “Yes, this is he. Oh, hi, Father. Great. Yes, I could come in tomorrow. 2:30? Okay, see you then.” In that minute-long seemingly casual conversation, we were released from this particular, 6+ month long trial. Just like that. He got the job.
We literally jumped up and down in our driveway. Finally, something to celebrate! This time God said “yes” to what we wanted, too! Instead of a party for something we know in our hearts is good, but is sad and awkard and kind of sucks, we can actually invite people to our home to celebrate something that makes us happy. Hooray!
An instant can change our lives for good or for evil. As the evil moments have for us, this one also made me think about heaven. Being suddenly set free from this burden made me think of how crabby I was last night under the stress of all this. How many times I cried out in frustration and anger that God would allow such a trial after I felt I had already reached at least a decade’s quota worth. In my joy, I felt a certain regret for not weathering the suffering as well as I could have. I am left wondering if I gained all the merit God held out for me in this trial, now over.
Here’s how that relates to heaven. If this is a sense I get from some relatively mild trial, what will it be like at the end of my life, when in an instant I am released from the burdens of sin and death and sorrow, and every tear truly is wiped away. Will that joy, too, be tinged with regret for the missed opportunities to have trusted more, loved deeper and given more sacrificially?
Someone recently quoted something (that’s good source citing, isn’t it?), that made me picture our trials as God coaxing his little one to climb one rung higher on the playground so that he could brag about how high the child jumped. Or perhaps God putting his kid into Honors Math, even though the child struggles, so that his full potential could be realized. He makes us go through hard things not to punish us or to be mean and vindictive, but because He is anticipating with delight how proud He will be of us (and us of ourselves) when we accomplish that which we did not know we could do. He’s there through the whole trial. He knows how hard it is for us, but that it will turn out okay. He is waiting to brag about us… and in His waiting He is already proud of us.
So, as we accepted the times when God “takes away”, we will accept the sweeter “give” that is ours for now. And I will not be too hard on myself for not handling the waiting perfectly, since as St. Therese says, our weaknesses just make Him love us more. But I do want to remember this feeling of relief, this perspective from safety, so that it may deepen my confidence and trust in Him for the next time He asks me to take a big leap.