When I was eight, I was chosen to do a reading at the school’s Advent service. It felt like a very important role, and I practised it for days to get the words right. I got to sit in the choir stalls, which was an important place.
I wasn’t, however, chosen for the choir.
My voice was judged inferior* – at least that’s what I remember feeling, even if that wasn’t the full reason. Whenever the choir sang, they all stood up; I remained seated in the stalls. Gradually, I realised – I was the only one sitting down when the choir stood up. All the other readers were also singers.
As is the way with Primary School performances, we practised it week after week. Each time, I sat while the choir stood, and my cheeks burned with shame. Then, a day before the performance, a teacher noticed the discrepancy.
“Stand up whenever the choir stands up. Just mouth the words instead of singing,” she told me. I was so grateful I almost cried.
In the performance, I mouthed the words, because I was not allowed to sing, and I remember feeling mortifyingly glad to be included.
We crave inclusion, a place to belong. When life stops us from joining in with others, it can be as painful as being the only kid in the class not to be invited to a party.
When you are in a season of waiting, hoping for something good to happen, it can feel more like rejection than a holding pattern. When others have been picked ahead of you, and you are left there waiting, it can be tempting to start telling yourself a story about why you’re left waiting:
‘It’s because I’m not as good.’
‘It’s because no one likes me.’
‘It’s because I don’t deserve good things.’
Most of the time, our stories about why we’re in limbo are not true: they’re what we use to make sense and regain control of the agony of waiting in the unknown. The reason I didn’t get picked for the choir wasn’t because of my voice. It may have been that they just didn’t notice me (I was quiet at school). It may have been an entirely different reason. We don’t often fully know the reasons why we’re in a wilderness.
Partly, I wrote Those Who Wait for that eight-year-old girl who wasn’t invited to be part of the choir.
It’s for the thousands I know with chronic illness who are longing for better health and experiencing it as rejection.
It’s for the writers who have been trying so long and never get picked.
It’s for those who have almost given up waiting for someone to love them.
It’s hard to be the only one not picked. And just as the adult-me looks with compassion on the eight-year-old me who wrongly interpreted the reason I wasn’t picked, so God looks with compassion on us as we try to fathom the reasons that God isn’t fulfilling our longings.
I don’t know why there’s a delay – I don’t know what God is up to. But I know that God has compassion, and if you stop and look around in that waiting place, you might just spot God’s kindness.
(*Now, as an adult, I would like to go back to that eight-year-old and reassure her that in time she would grow into an operatic voice and even at the time she was a good singer. All the lies we once believed can be redeemed by truth-telling.)
Joining with #fiveminutefriday, though full disclosure – this was 10 minutes 🙂
Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay by Tanya Marlow (Malcolm Down) is out SOON – Monday 16th October. Pre-order your copy from Wordery (free international delivery) for £8.99/ $11.95 / AU$15.27 / CA$14.90 / €10.15.
The RRP is £9.99/$13.99, but will be available on Amazon on Monday at a special introductory 10-day offer of £6.99/$8.99 for the paperback, and £3.99/$3.99 for the ebook. (Even though it’s saying ‘currently unavailable’ it will be available on Monday!We crave inclusion, a place to belong. Click To Tweet I don't know what God is up to. But I know that God has compassion Click To Tweet All the lies we once believed can be redeemed by truth-telling. Click To Tweet
Over to you:
- When have you been in a season of waiting, but felt rejected?
- What has helped you in reframing those times of waiting as something more positive?