There are students that stay with you for a lifetime. Adrian was one of those students. I serviced him for speech therapy throughout kindergarten and first grade. His big brown eyes would peek out from underneath his long lashes whenever I came into the room to pick him up. Everything he did was exaggerated, from the way he talked with his hands to the way he walked out of the classroom waving goodbye as though he were standing on a float in a parade.
One Friday afternoon I walked into his classroom and was met with the jittery shuffle that is commonplace about an hour before student lunch. He sat with his arms crossed and head down, shoulders heavy with defeat. I looked to the teacher and she just shrugged her shoulders as if to say, I can’t even tell you what it is today.
“Adrian, it’s time for speech.” I called to him from the front of the room.
He raised his head in slow motion, look right at me and released all the air out of his body in one deep, exaggerated sigh, parking his chin directly into the palm of his left hand. “God NEVER answers my prayers,” he sang in his theatric English.
I tried to hide the amusement curling at the corners of my mouth, “What do you mean Adrian?” I asked.
“Every day, EVERY DAY, I pray that there will be no school – but here we are,” he responded.
It took every educator bone in my body not to laugh out loud. One of the paraprofessionals in the room, no longer amused by his daily histrionic performances, turned in her seat to face him. “You know what Adrian? God always answers prayers. Sometimes he just says no.”
Adrian rolled his eyes, forwent his wave goodbye, and huffed and puffed his way to the speech room.
Sometimes I feel like Adrian. All irritated and restless, pacing left and right, trying to sit and listen but also impatiently pressing my own agenda into God’s hands.
Waiting for what you want is hard. And the more technology caters to placating our immediate desires, the harder it gets to wait. But God doesn’t deliver promises on the fastest internet connection speed. God has more of a 1000 free hours on a CD-ROM dial-up speed type of delivery.
Pastor Rich Valledas makes a good joke about how God works on MTA time. Lots of delays. Lots of traffic. Lots of standing by.
Fast forward a few years from now and Adrian will get his dream of no school and then he’ll be praying that he doesn’t have to go to work. Then, he’ll be waiting for the paid days off.
For most of us, waiting is an awful desert in between where we are and where we want to be. Waiting for a job or waiting to retire. Waiting for a payday or waiting for the weekend. Waiting for a sign or waiting for the signs to go away.
We are all in this waiting room together. Sitting in the waiting room of life can be a disquieting experience, especially if you’re unsure if anyone can hear or see you. Waiting can cause anxiety and anxiety can make you do some irrational things.
Henri Nouwen, the author of numerous books on deepening the spiritual life, introduces the concept of “active waiting.” He describes active waiting as “waiting that pays attention, is fully present to what is really going on, even when to all outward appearances, nothing is going on.”
You see, waiting is God’s way of working in us. It is the preparation for the blessing. Adrian needs to go to school even if he doesn’t understand why right now. He needs to learn to read and write for more than just survival purposes. He needs to learn these basic skills to thrive.
We all need to learn something in the waiting. Patience. Gratitude. Perspective. We would benefit from focusing on the present circumstances and what we have to discover in place of obsessing over the end of a timeline we cannot control.
***This is essay 42 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir.