I've found that often the best way for me to help relieve this anxiety is to be outside and to move. That's why instead of taking my usual route home (actually I now have three interchangeable routes home, because I get bored of the same) I walked further than necessary to the bus stop on Michigan Avenue. On the way I gloried in the fresh air, lightly laughed at the groups of children gathering in Washington Square Park, smiled a salute to Newberry Library, and delighted at the prisms of sunshine light dancing in chandelier-filled windows, Starbucks, office buildings, and 4th Presbyterian. Thanking the Lord for these things, and acknowledging that beauty feeds my soul, I stopped at my designated steel chariot waiting area and...well, I waited.
Being that it was a very windy afternoon and getting colder by the minute, I looked at the bus stop to see when my fair coach would be arriving. The display read 11 minutes. Eleven minutes?!? But that's an AGE to stand here doing nothing (Remember? I've been restless all afternoon. I didn't want my physical and mental progress impeded by standing and doing nothing! The gall.) so I started walking. Oh, I know it was illogical. Walking would actually increase my commute time, and I'd be cold and accosted by the wind in the process. But I'm not very logical. I'd be doing something, you see? I knew the physical exertion would help calm my mind, the fresh air would be great, that I probably wouldn't go running when I got home anyway, that I could talk to the Lord while walking, and I'd have a great view of the lake and the city to boot. My plan was to walk as far as I could within reason, because I still needed to get things done when I got home, and then take a street west to one of the red line stops to carry me the rest of the way home.
As I was walking praise songs were running through my head. I was thankful for the brisk walk. I kept thinking that I missed my bike and that this would go much faster if I were on my bike. Then I thought how silly I must look in my work clothes, walking along the bike trail. Then I thought of every time I'd been irritated by people in dress clothes moseying about on the trail while I, the super cool biker had to maneuver around them and pick up speed after passing them. If they are like me that day, just needing some fresh air and jumping at the only opportunity they would have to get some "exercise" that day, I shouldn't mentally make fun of them again.
Reaching a point in the trail where normally the artfully or instagram conscious would turn around and snap a photo, I gazed back at the city, my fingers searching for my phone. "No Kayla, this isn't about the city. It's about Me", the Lord corrected. Instructing me to keep walking, I did, until I reached the point where Lincoln Park is adjacent to the trail. Turn left here. Oh! Okay, sure. Run up the stairs. I ran the second half. :/ Take a left at the fork here. I was starting to feel suspicious, this wasn't very close to a red line station...in fact it'd probably be closer to just go back to the one I normally take, but that would seem silly... And we didn't walk as far as I had wanted. I was going to push through as far as I could! Maybe take a couple pictures...maybe write a cute story...you know, express myself! The Lord's voice next very clearly said, "go back from where you came and wait for the bus". Are you sure? "Go back from where you came. I want you to wait for the bus."
(Begins heading back the direction I'd just come from.)
Lord? This feels like one of those Old Testament prophet stories, where you tell them to do things that don't make sense and people learn things from them...
Once again worship songs flooded my mind and we were walking again, and the next thing the Lord brought to mind was that He is for me a fortress. I looked to my right and the home standing next to me was built like a medieval fortress, made from stone, shaped with round turrets and complete with those square cutouts on the top, you know the ones archers hide behind and shoot arrows from? Yeah, those.
Finally across the street from the bus stop, the one I had left impatiently, intending to forge my own path and make my own progress, I see not one, but three 147 buses. Um, hello,wait! I squirm internally, beginning to get nervous. You guys are supposed to be more spread out than that! You see, my traffic light is red, and yours is green, and if you all make it through the green light, then I'm likely to be waiting a very long time for the next bus! At least another eleven minutes!
Lord? This isn't fair. What if I have to wait a very long time now? "Do you trust Me?" Sigh, well I suppose if you could allow three buses to be clumped up in such a fashion, it's possible that one could come quickly behind them and I might not have to wait a very long time. And, Lord? If You don't want me to have any of these buses and You want me to wait, I think I trust You then, too. Two buses have made it through the green light now, but the traffic light turns red! My walking signal directs me to GO, and boy do I 'go'...I made it onto the third northbound 147 outer drive express bus right on time.
At lunch the next day I told a sweet friend this story and she replied, "Boy you really made a big deal out of eleven whole minutes!". To me though this was more than a four-minutes-short-of-a-quarter-of-an-hour-wait on a bus. It was a metaphor for where I am in life. In my restlessness I can move forward on my own, thinking my way will be more effective or beneficial in some way. I can also follow the letter of the law in waiting, not moving physically, but still grumble in my heart that this is silly, and I could do a better job of this. Why isn't the bus here yet? Who isn't doing their job? What caused this effect? It should be here by now. Well dear impatient Kayla, you don't see the big picture. There are many variables, many other people to consider, and you're not the only one alive on this earth. God is the God who sees and He sees all. So circumstances aren't perfect. Is there anywhere in the Bible that states the children of God will have really happy, always perfect and comfortable lives? No? No. Will I eventually get home? Mmhmm. Will I learn things along the way? Definitely. Does God care more about my own well-being than I do? He truly does. And just as much as I can enjoy His presence while we're walking along the lake trail with the thought in my head that we're getting somewhere, I can learn to enjoy His presence when we're standing in place and it feels like we're making leaps and bounds to nowhere.
"...but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint."
"Love the LORD, all you his saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD!"