Sunday, August 30, 2009

Overflowing With Hope

Do you have a particular life lesson that God teaches you over and over again? For me, that lesson is definitely patience, and the method He uses is so simple and so agonizing: waiting. It seems I am ALWAYS waiting for something--waiting for a job, waiting for marriage, waiting for a baby. No matter how well I learn the lesson on one occasion, I have to learn it all over again the next time. Today I want to share one story about how I grew through waiting. It's also the next chapter in my love story with Bill; I've been wanting to continue that story for a long time now.

Back in May of 2001, Bill applied for an L-1 Visa through our company. In four to six weeks, we thought, he would transfer from the Vancouver office to my office in Texas. At last, our year of long-distance dating would be over, and we'd live happily ever after!

These pictures were taken on one of my visits to Vancouver, right around the time Bill completed the mountain of paperwork and sent it in.

Having the end in sight made our separation so much easier to bear. Though I tend to be impatient, I can usually tolerate or even enjoy the anticipation as long as I know how long the wait will be. I set my mind on six weeks and joyfully started the countdown.

As you might have guessed, it didn't work out the way I expected....

Excerpts From My Journal
I miss Bill a lot today. I just wish he were here for good. I'm tired of counting down the weeks.

From the mountain to the valley.... Good thing my faith doesn't depend on my emotional state, or I'd be faithless today.... I felt sad and let down, and tears started rolling down my cheeks. I knew I was being ridiculous, but I couldn't help it.... I comforted myself with chocolate, and later Bill's sensitive, compassionate emails were a big comfort. He said he wished he were here to "kiss away my tears." That gave me a few happy tears. I love him so very much. It's hard to be patient for his transfer to come through.

I'm feeling very impatient about the Visa. It's been six weeks and one day, and they said four to six weeks. I still keep thinking that he won't really transfer, that something will go wrong. I can't truly imagine him living down here, or us being married. I want it, but it feels like just a fantasy. I think God is teaching me patience through this experience. Maybe I'm not really ready for Bill to move, and God knows that.

I was hoping to hear about Bill's Visa today, but there was no word. Lord, help me be patient. It's not just that I am anxious for Bill to come, but that a part of me fears he'll never come, that the Visa will be denied. I try not to think that way, but it's been seven weeks!... I have prayed so often for your will in Bill's transfer, and for your timing. Yet I cannot seem to let it go and leave it in your hands. Forgive me, Lord. Help me to trust you.

Bill was saying that it isn't hard for him to wait on the Visa because he's happy with his life the way it is. He said he was anxious to move down, but he is happy there, too. I asked him if he was SURE he wanted to move down here; if he's happy with his life up there, why would he want to change it? I think he was aggravated by that question. He said OF COURSE he's sure. I told him that I was sure, too, but that I also get nervous about the future, that change scares me. Maybe he thought that meant I was getting cold feet....

I hung up with tears in my eyes. So now I'm just waiting, like the story of my life. Always waiting and waiting. I just want to go home and curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep....

Lord, help me to rest in you. I can't resolve any of these feelings or these fears, but you can. Please work this out according to your will. If I am not meant to be with Bill, let me find this out soon, but give me the strength to bear it. And if we are meant to be together, give me assurance. Help me to have peace.

When the waiting become too difficult to bear, at last I threw up my hands and stopped asking God for what I wanted. Instead, I asked for what he wanted for my life. Though I'd said that many times before, this time I really meant it. I was just too exhausted to keep struggling.

A few days after that turning point, on July 30th, to be exact, God gave me three scriptures:

  • Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

  • Isaiah 26:3-4: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.

  • Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I knew that I had been leaning on my own understanding and that I COULDN'T understand why there was such a delay. These verses reminded me that God could be trusted and that he had a good reason for making us wait. I knew that the answer would come at the right time.

Suddenly, instead of being imprisoned by anxiety and worry and impatience, my heart was overflowing with hope, joy, and peace. I don't think I ever would have come to that place without the months of waiting.

The Explanation
The very next day, we got word as to the status of the work Visa! It wasn't the news I was hoping for, but it was a progress report. His Visa was supposed to have been filed in May, but it actually hadn't been submitted until June, and the INS hadn't registered it in their system until July 11. There had been a two-month delay from when we started the process, and now the INS was estimating 30-90 days from the date of filing.

That meant we could hear from them in as little as a week, or as long as nine more weeks. Based on the way things had gone up to that point, I was inclined to expect the latter.

Amazingly, I was not discouraged by the news, but continued to revel in my newfound peace.
The Answer!
Just two days later, on 8/3/01, I was called into the director's office at work, where I listened to a voicemail from the corporate attorney who had submitted Bill's paperwork: William's L-1 Visa had been approved!

I was so happy that I cried, much to Steve's chagrin. "This is good news, right?" he asked.

"Wonderful news!" I choked out.

The next day, we sprang into action, making all the arrangements. But that's another story.


Jenny from the Block said...

Great food for thought.

Mindy said...

I love hearing about yours and Bill's love story :-)

I'm a very impatient person too, when you said that you like to know the time span you have to wait and you want it to be done at the end of it, that's just like me. Blake doesn't understand how I get SO frustrated when things don't go as planned or on time. I like to count down the days as well, and when it hits day 0 I want the result. I really need to work on that. Just wanted to comfort you in knowing you aren't the only one :-)


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