A Prayer for the Waiting

Do you like waiting? I write about how in dealing with infertility, you are often stuck in two-week increments: two weeks to ovulation, two weeks of waiting. Repeat. Only, it isn’t always so simple either — long cycles or short cycles, closed clinics or other disruptions. For 53 months, I felt like I was endlessly waiting. Advent is celebrated as the liturgical season of waiting, waiting for Christ to come again. But waiting is exhausting. It’s even demoralizing sometimes. The following prayer does not romanticize the waiting but seeks to be open to God’s presence in the midst of it.

God who wipes our tears away, hurry up already. The weight of waiting has left me spent, unable to focus. I have no control, no reasoning can get me out of this, and scrolling often makes it worse. I want you to swoop in and zap my struggles away. I want you to lift up the lowly, now. I want you to make the world new, now.

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I’m Done Waiting on You

I was ready to meet my mate in high school, when I first learned what the term “high school sweethearts” meant. As high school flew by with no dates, I was then certain that college would hold meeting Mr. Right, but I needed to do everything right and follow all the advice given from my various evangelical “Christian” beliefs. Blog articles I consumed contained titles like “Twelve Things All Christian Girls Need to Do to Prepare for Their Husband,” or “What Christian Men Are Looking for in a Christian Wife.”

Despite all my research, college yielded nothing, so I started soaking in the advice from family, friends, church members, leaders, and more:

“Marry your best friend.” Yeah, seeing as all of my best male friends are gay or married, that’s pretty much a no go.

“I prayed about it.”

“I had given up on dating and marriage. I was ready to be single for the rest of my life.” Done that about a thousand times as I’ve been on all of two dates in my 29 years of life (OK four—two father-daughter dates come to mind).

“I prayed about it.”

We met online.” Tried four different sites. Went on two dates. Bad, horrible, awful, hellacious. It was too much on my soul, and as the inner critics started shouting, it was clear there were more important things to be working on than trying to go on dates.

“I made a list of all the dream things I wanted in a mate…and prayed about it.” I’ve made the evangelical list from my high school days, and made another list with a friend about six months ago about what I truly, legitimately want in a mate. Results? Nothing.

Over a year ago, as I was lamenting my desire for a mate, my counselor asked me that fated question once more: “Have you prayed for one?”

If prayers for a future mate were a dime a dozen, I’d be in the top 1% by now. Because the years have gone by and there’s been nothing. Yet through it all, the desire to meet someone, the hope of finding a mate has journeyed with me from every transition—high school to college, college to internship, internship to seminary, seminary to first call—and each move has come the lingering questions: “Is he waiting here? Will I find him when I go there?” The hope would build, the crushes would develop, and the reality would come crashing in every time: No, it can’t be him, or, No, it won’t be him.

So, at my counselor’s question, I wanted to cry out, “Pray for him? Honey, I’ve done every damn thing in the book for him. I’ve read books, journaled, written him letters, had conversations aloud with him, and prayed every damn prayer in the world for him. But Mr. Rev. Rachy (MRR)? He’s. Still. Not. Here.” Read more

Sometimes I Really Hate This Time of Year

pregnancy test – negative

We are in the thick of Advent. Inside the church, we are quick to turn our focus to Elizabeth, to Mary, to drawing parallels between the waiting time of pregnancy and the waiting time of Advent. Outside the church, Christmas cards show up in our mailboxes each day with pictures of smiling families dressed to the nines for Christmas portraits, or religious cards with silhouettes of pregnant Mary riding on the donkey, led by Joseph, down the road toward Bethlehem. Singers on the radio remind us that it is “the most wonderful time of year.”

Except when it isn’t.

“Sometimes I hate this time of year,” one colleague admits.

Because for those who long for children that they cannot conceive, for those who know the loss of a pregnancy or the loss of a child, for those who are childless beyond their choice or power, this intensely child-focused time of year is anything but wonderful. Hear the voices of young clergy women colleagues as they reflect on the tension of this season: Read more

Sleeping to One Side

Empty BedsI sleep alone in my queen-size bed and I’ve slept alone in this bed for almost two years. You’d think that after two years, I’d sleep sprawled in the middle of this mattress, limbs stretching as far as they could reach. But two years after I last had company on this mattress, I still sleep on one side of it. I can put my iPad and iPhone, four pillows and even a tower of books on the other side of the bed and when I wake up they will all be there, unmoved. It is hard to break the habits you learn when you share a bed night after night.

I sleep alone in my queen-size bed and you’d think that would mean I’ve been single for two years. But I haven’t…or I have. It’s complicated. Everything is complicated when you’re married to a man who is in jail. I’ve been raising a son alone despite the fact that he has a living father. I’ve been filing my taxes as “married” despite the fact that I’m the sole bread winner and only adult in the house. I’ve been going to bed alone despite the fact that I have a husband. Complicated. Read more

Advent Prayer

Fulfill in us the coming of Christ.

May we, O God,
Like Mary, treasure and guard the coming of your kingdom deep within us
Nourishing it as it grows,
Delighting in its first flutterings,
cradling its growing weight in our hands,
until it is ready to come and call out to the world. Amen.

If your path involves motherhood, the odds are pretty good that you will be in some way waiting for motherhood to begin during an Advent season. This year, I know pastor-moms who are in a variety of states of waiting: trying, waiting to announce, announcing, waiting for paperwork, waiting for a referral, and ready to deliver.

Two Advents ago, I realized I was pregnant during a sermon on the annunciation. For a variety of reasons, the timing of this baby was horrible. As my head pastor explained all of the reasons the angel might tell Mary “Do not be afraid” I knew three things for sure: I was pregnant; I was very afraid; and I had better come up with a good explanation in case anyone in the congregation noticed that I was turning a shade of green in front of their eyes.

Our waiting in Advent is informed by many versions of waiting for the coming of Christ. Mary’s waiting for his birth might be the most distilled version. Women waiting for motherhood have incredible access to that experience.

I wrote this prayer as a way of exploring that version of waiting.