Love is patient.
Yesterday my daughter refused to be vaccinated. After an hour of coaching, praying, cuddling, offering lollies and even watching other children be vaccinated to try to neutralise the fear, she looked at me with deep disappointment in her eyes: “I can’t do it Mum.”
We decided to come back and try again in a few days’ time.
She cried on the way home.
I’m not entirely sure what suddenly triggered this intense fear of needles, or how or when we will ultimately overcome this, but I know that I recognised in her eyes those many moments in my own humanity when I have felt the exact same way: “I can’t do it. I want to. I know I should be able to, but I can’t. I’m just not ready.”
I seemed to be running out of strategies in my bag of parenting tricks. I wasn’t going to be able to fix this quickly. The only thing I knew, as I watched my eight-year-old battle with her logic, her fear and her courage, was that the worst thing I could do would be to force her. We need to get it done, and we will, but not by removing her agency. Not at this age.
She needs to find her “yes” in the face of fear and doubt.
We all meet this threshold, in work, relationships, public speaking, therapy; whatever it may be. “Yes, I will join the gym. Yes, I will tell someone what I have been secretly worrying about. Yes, I will risk this friendship. Yes, I will share my story. Yes, I will go to this place and do this big thing that I don’t feel fully prepared for. Yes, I will marry you.” Whatever it is.
And we have all sat with the feeling, at one time or another: “I want to, but I’m not ready.”
Sometimes we were the one who frustrated or disappointed the people who loved us with our “no” or our “not yet”. Other times we’ve played the role of the disappointed, as our friends, colleagues, would-be-companions were a “no” when we deeply wanted them to be a “yes.”
I have been reflecting on these three categories of relationships that we see in the life of Jesus, as he walks in obedience to the Father’s will: “No”, “Wait” and “Yes”.
Some of his friends and early followers didn’t go the distance. They became a “no.” “This is too hard,” they said (John 6.60). Am I allowed to say that this is understandable? It is hard. To be in relationship with Him calls for a whole lot of giving things up, trusting in the midst of hardship and allowing Him to look into the painful places inside and say, “Let’s talk about this, shall we?” Ouch. It’s hurty and scary. Lollies and glittery band aids won’t make it more palatable.
On the other hand, we know He is the bread we need (John 6.48). So many times we are the one who says, “Can I come back and try again tomorrow? I want to, but I’m not ready.”
When we are walking in our God-given callings, there will be friends who will say to us (in so many words): “You’re ready for more than I am right now. I can’t come with you.” They might even deny knowing us, or what they know to be true of us. And like Peter, they might secretly go home weeping with disappointment, whilst all we see is their absence when we could have used a friend (Luke 22.62).
Yet we are never completely alone. Even in the abandonment that Jesus experienced on our behalf, there was his mother, his aunty, his Beloved John, Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas (John 19.25). There they were and they wouldn’t (couldn’t) have been anywhere else in that moment. “Yes” was their answer, even in death. “Yes.”
They were ready to go to the cross.
Others needed time to try again, on a future day that was always coming.
Who are your “yes” people?
Who has been a “no”?
Who are you waiting for, because though they can’t come with you right now, they just might meet you on a beach one day for breakfast? They just might become the greatest “yes” in your life, in their own time frame.
How do you keep moving forward with God, while you wait?
By Heather Cetrangolo,
29 March 2022
Image by Jon Tyson