“Jimmy, can I read you something?”
“Ugh, no.” He grinned at me. “Yeah, sure.”
“Okay, it’s not this, it’s something else.”
I had allowed Jimmy, upon his request, to change the document name of one of my short stories so it matched the title. As he leaned over my laptop, I’d thought of a story he might like, and wanted to read it to him. I took over the laptop and went to find the story, and when I opened it up, I asked him to go to the other side of the kitchen while I stood on this side. I can’t read out loud when someone is on the same side of the room as I am, when they’re not facing me, it makes me uncomfortable and I can’t focus, though I’m not sure if this is a pet peeve that I should let God get rid of or a writerly idiosyncrasy that can be kept.
Jimmy obliged, but then ran back to the laptop and pulled it towards him. At first I thought he was trying to get a peek at the story before I read it, so I playfully scolded him before he looked back to me and exclaimed, “Twelve pages?”
I became a bit disheartened. It’s never good or helpful when someone asks how long a piece is. Yes, twelve pages. And yet here, I wondered how I should react to this. Do I show how upset I am? or do I choose to remember that God is bigger, that this time with Jimmy is not about me, but about spending time with him?
“Yes,” I said with a smile. “You don’t have to listen if you don’t want to.” Jimmy kept his grin and told me it was okay, he would listen. He walked away from me to the other side of the kitchen and slid down to the floor, looking up at me. I stood at my laptop, which sat on the counter, and began reading.
“Hunter, what page are you on?” Jimmy asked a handful of paragraphs later.
Okay. I thought. What’s the choice here? Do I answer out of patience, or do I get frustrated? Love is patient, and Christ has called me to be patient.
“We just finished page two.”
“Can you tell me when we’re on page five?” he asked. This translated to “I’m only going to listen until page five.”
I consented to telling him, and then went on reading.
“Hunter, what page are we on?”
“Jimmy, it’s okay, bud, you don’t have to listen,” I said, realizing he really didn’t want to listen any longer, didn’t want to listen to begin with. But I wasn’t hurt, and I remained patient with him.
“No, I know that you want me to listen.”
“But,” I went on. “I know you don’t actually want to listen, so it’s okay, really.”
“I’ll listen to page six,” he said. “I’ll meet you halfway…for you, because I know you want me to listen.” And I smiled.
It’s in moments like these, when I would easily become impatient and frustrated, hurt and distressed, despite the smallness of the situation, that God blesses me so wonderfully when I lean on Him. Trust God with the big things? Yes. Trust Him with the small things too 🙂 Here I was struck with how sensitive and wonderful my little brother is, the work God is doing and has done in him, how He’s grown him into a kind and heartfelt gentleman, able to forgive and love and show himself vulnerable, despite the circumstances.
Speaking of the small things, it seems we often wait on big movements and miracles to come about in our lives, but I’m learning that a lot of times it’s waiting on the small things that builds up endurance in my walk with Christ. If He can handle coming through on the small things, or what seem small to me, then I am more able to trust Him with what seem like the big things. It seems like a lot of my relationship with Christ involves my sitting and waiting to see what He’s going to do, waiting on Him to work in someone, some circumstance, some struggle. All the while, during the waiting, it seems like nothing happens, and yet, at the same time, it’s when I seem to grow the most, when He pushes me to figure things out via the light of His word and His character and what He’s already proven to me time and time again.
Right now is one of those waiting periods. There are a lot of things happening in a lot of small ways, and also in big ways that will continue to expand throughout the rest of my lifetime. There are also a lot of things that are going to happen, about which I can do nothing because they haven’t happened yet. And all of it scares the snot out of me.
How is God going to use writing in my life? What does the rest of my time at Pratt look like? What’s going to happen? What are things going to be like when Jacob gets back from Korea? How is God going to move in my family? In my church? In my town? All of these questions continue to circulate through my brain and I’m wondering how on earth to keep them quiet so I can focus.
The other day I was able to Skype with Taylor, and it was incredibly encouraging to talk to her and see how she’s doing, what she’s learning, how God is breaking down walls and lifting up focus, and to talk to her about what’s going on in both of our parts part of the world.
A lot of time being at home is spent on the little moments, and the quote, “maturity is realizing how many things don’t require your comment” is running through my head. James 1:19 comes to mind a lot, the command to jump on an opportunity to listen, to be slow when it comes to getting angry and reacting out of anger, and to hold my tongue when it would be easy to interrupt or respond poorly. It’s difficult a lot of times, at least for me, to do this with family, because your family has seen you at your worst and at your best and they’ve watched your transformation from newborn to college student. They’ve witnessed everything you’ve been through and have heard all of the things you’ve said, seen everything you’ve lost or gained. Of course, God has seen more of you and knows more about you than they do or ever will, and He can see your future, but other than God, your family are those you spend and have spent the most time with. So, this offers a freedom to be snarky, to be impatient, to be frustrated, even though those responses aren’t helpful or necessary, within or without the family. They love you and they’ll continue to love you, so you can treat them the way you want.
This perspective is not okay, and Christ has been changing and continues to change this in me. When I realized that coming home was as much of a war zone as being at Pratt, that Satan didn’t give me a break just because I was in the Shire as opposed to being in The City, that my flesh doesn’t just disappear or lose influence because I can now walk around in bare feet and bake a lot, the perspective of there being a tangible safe zone evaporated, and I was forced to remember that God is still and always will be the constant safe zone and home base. I’m not trivializing homecomings, or casting aside the absolute wonder and remedy that is being with family, but I am saying that, just like with anyone else, even more so, maybe, I need Christ and I need to lean on Him in every moment in order to effectively love and challenge and encourage my family, just like I had to do on Pratt campus with my classmates and professors and my church family there. Nothing has changed.
Lately, because of errands being run and people to chauffeur around, my time with God spent in the early hours of the morning has been cut short, interrupted, and missed once. But I’ve had tons of time alone with Him throughout the day and at night, when I can pray and talk and vent and study His word and then learn how to apply it immediately. And I wonder how, in this whole thing, He’s using all of it to prepare me for what’s coming up next.
Based on God’s leading, on the situations at hand, on months of praying and thinking and then seeking advice and counsel, I ended up deciding not to be a counselor at BaYouCa. But even in this, as I prayed through the decision, God provided another girl to replace me (which I had been praying for) and be able to do ministry at the camp effectively and completely, and He’s going to do amazing things there and through her, and I can’t wait to see it 🙂 God is leading me in a direction in which I never imagined walking, and I can’t see what the end will look like or even how I’ll get there. I can’t see or fathom what crazy adventures and absolutely uncomfortable circumstances I’ll enter into where I’ll need Him more than I ever felt I needed Him before. But He knows what He’s doing. Yes. He knows what He’s doing.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” —Isaiah 55:8-9