I was terrified. It wasn’t the kind of fear when you wake from a nightmare and slowly realize it wasn’t real. It wasn’t even that those words were a sense of foreboding, that something was definitely wrong with my health. It was something totally different, something that felt mysterious and much, much bigger than me.
Since then I faced a diagnostic test that declared me just fine, but I haven’t stopped mulling over those words. I am not arrogant enough to dismiss a message because of the dubious way it’s been relayed. The night before my test I did a word search in every Bible translation I could find for the phrase “don’t wait.” I found a handful of verses, but none that I felt spoke to me in that moment. Now that the panic has passed, I can’t stop thinking about them. I don’t want to miss whatever I could be learning here.
Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well.
When you make a promise to God, don’t wait too long to carry it out. He isn’t pleased with foolish people. So do what you have promised.
But I am poor and needy. May the Lord be concerned about me. You are the One who helps me and saves me. My God, please don’t wait any longer.
Sure, all of these are legitimate things. I’m not beating myself up. But truthfully the message “don’t wait” doesn’t sit well with me. It pulls me out of a relatively comfortable place. It whispers again, loud enough to wake me from my complacency:
Don’t wait until you feel ready to give of yourself, your time, your home, your talents.
Don’t wait to lavish love on others, even if you don’t know them well yet.
Don’t wait until the house is perfect to invite others in.
Don’t wait until your soul is fed and your heart is contented to serve others and speak joy into their lives.
Don’t wait until you have “more time” to call someone you love and be an ear for them.
Don’t wait until the to-do list is done to play and delight and enjoy your children.
Don’t wait until the mundane is managed to look your spouse in the eye and connect with him.
Don’t wait to have hard conversations that might mend old hurts.
Don’t wait for the absence of fear to try something new.
Don’t wait until you’ve found extra time to start taking care of your body and your soul.
For the love of God, don’t wait.
What this time of striving and exhaustion and falling short and adjusted expectations is teaching me is this: In this season of my life, there will always be another load of laundry to fold, more floors than I can keep swept, another meal to cook, more dishes to put away, another child to bathe, another toy on the floor, more toothpaste in the sink, or another errand to run.
I can let these things wear me down, and in my still-sleepless state, it’s not hard to do that. Or I can look at all of this mess as an indication that my life is filled to overflowing with blessings. I have a lapful of sweet children who want me to look up! To stop working! To play with them! I can’t do everything, but I can do that.
This house we were so blessed to find is more than I can manage on a daily basis at this time in my life. I am doing the best I can. But the reason we bought it wasn’t so I could spend all my time cleaning it; we hoped it would be a haven to our family and a welcome respite to anyone who entered it. We hoped and prayed we would have chances to use it to bless others—family, old friends, new friends and even people we don’t know well yet. It doesn’t have to be perfectly renovated to do that. It doesn’t have to be spotless. Our overgrown yard doesn’t have to be under control. We just have to be warm and inviting and willing. We can’t be those things if the door is closed.
Right now two of my children are napping and I am not cleaning or organizing anything or being otherwise “productive.” But if I wait until everything is done before I feed my soul, it will starve. If it starves, then I am not being responsible with these others—namely, my husband and children—who have been placed in my care.
Our little one is still not sleeping reliably, so neither am I. It’s wearing on me. I feel justified saying I can’t stay up with or go out with Daniel because I’m just too tired. But slightly less sleep here and there is a small price to pay for a renewed connection with the one my heart loves. It’s easy to forget about him because he’s self sufficient—he doesn’t need me like our children do. He’s the least squeaky of all the wheels. But I can’t wait to invest in us; it’s too important.
I hope these words have challenged you to rethink how you order your days, but please don’t let them make you feel judged or heavy. I still don’t know whether I am doing with them what is meant for me, but I feel completely certain they were meant to offer freedom and relief, not additional burden. There is grace and joy and peace and it’s all there for the taking now, not in some ill-defined future when everything has changed. Don’t wait.