This past New Year’s Eve, my church, in the big megachurch fashion, had this big Worship night thing at the main campus in Charlotte. And so my Bible study group decided that we were going to be in the front row and all up near the stage, because that’s obviously where you have to be to get anything out of anything. So, considering our church was the size it was, and knowing the notorious lines that have formed outside of that campus for special events and how long attenders were willing to wait to get a seat, we decided we needed to be there 10 hours early. So, we woke up that morning and all the girls piled up in my ghettomobile (who, by the way, has been revived since its death this past February. It’s also been replaced by a not ghetto Subaru. So hallelujah.) and everyone experienced the tragedy that is my sense of direction and we eventually found ourselves at the campus.
We were pumped, having sung “Anyone Else But You” and various Lizzie Mcguire soundtrack songs almost the entire ride, and were even more excited when we arrived and realized that the only people in line in front of us was this group of people from New York or some weird place like that. We were pleased. The front row was ours.
But we still had ten hours until the doors opened. And it was really freaking cold.
So we spent ten hours- TEN. HOURS.- wrapping ourselves in the blankets we found in my trunk and curling up into a giant pile for heat and taking turns walking an hour to Target to go to the bathroom and sending people out to go pick up Starbucks and water.
Honestly, it was one of the funnest times of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so close to that group of girls. Literally, of course, but also figuratively. We bonded. We sang really loud and made everyone judge us. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe. We talked about men a lot. I blared worship music from my stereo and made everyone cry. It was lovely, as much as it was awful. And really, the only awful part was the fact that everyone ate all my Clif bars.
So, when the doors finally opened, we walked in feeling good about the day we’d spent waiting. It was worth it, and we knew it. We were going to have a great time worshipping together and hearing the Word.
Except, something somehow somewhere fell through and they made us sit in the back while everyone who got there two hours before it opened got to sit in the front. It sounds silly writing about it six months later, but that moment was obnoxiously crushing. So we went into the worship service extremely angry and upset and uninterested and feeling very much cheated of ten hours of our lives. And I felt awful, of course, having made the girls sit in the cold for so long for no reason.
But there was a lesson in it, one that I wish I would have learned before wasting the entire service being angry.
My friend Jess was the one who voiced what I didn’t want to admit. Once we had started to get over ourselves a little bit, she said something like, “You know what, it doesn’t matter. I got to spend the day with you guys. And that’s all that matters. That’s all I wanted anyway.”
And she had a point. That time we spent waiting did a great deal to bring us all closer. And it wasn’t like we were miserable. We had fun. It was an adventure. And we were together, growing in community, which was the entire point of our Bible study group. Plus we took some cool selfies that day that we still randomly post for throwback Thursdays, so it wasn’t entirely wasted.
Oh no. I didn’t want to write this, but I am. The lesson learned that day was Nothing is Wasted.
But I’ve spent the past half year thinking about my New Year’s experience. Because I’ve very much felt like I’ve been sitting in a line outside a building for ten hours pretty much every second of my life since then. There’s places I want to go, things I want to see, things I want to do. And I’ve spent all of this year waiting for things to fall into place. And honestly, it felt like I was sitting out in the cold for a large amount of that time. It seemed like every step I took forced me to take another two back, and every path I pursued ended in an abrupt stop. It’s like when you’re uploading a video and the time remaining somehow gets longer the more it loads.
There were a lot of times when I felt like I was just wasting time being somewhere I didn’t want to be, doing things that didn’t make my heart feel alive.
But in those moments, I just remembered the day I sat outside of that church. I remembered that that time wasn’t wasted. I remembered that there were special bonds made during that time that couldn’t have been made in any other circumstance. Things were happening in that time that I couldn’t see the results of until after it was over with. Those ten hours were worth their weight.
And this past year has been worth its weight as well. It was worth the frustration and the confusion and the nights spent trying to pull strings together.
Because as much as I have complained this year about not being in school and working stupid hours at a dead end job and not being in community, it’s been one of the greatest times of my life. I’ve changed more than I thought possible. Things have happened in this time that couldn’t have happened in any other circumstance. I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had. God’s done a great deal to show me His character and His plans and affections for me. He’s been at work, preparing me for where I’m going. He’s taught me that my home is and always will be in Him. He’s taught me to be content in all situations. He’s taught me to be faithful with what I have and to make the most of what resources He’s given me in the moment. I’ve taken time to learn and grow as much as possible. And as much as I hate to admit it, I needed this season. God knew that. Of course He didn’t take pleasure in observing my frustration, but He knew that the result would be worth it.
Bottom line- He didn’t let me waste my time of wait.
And now that it’s coming to a close and I’m preparing to step into the things I’ve been praying and hoping for for all of this time, I can appreciate the time I’ve spent being prepared. I couldn’t imagine my life without these past six or seven months. They shaped me into who I am, and I wouldn’t trade any of it- not even the sleepless nights and the days spent wondering if things would ever fall into place in the wake of my disappointments- for anything.
He knows what He’s doing. He’s my Father- filled with compassion and love and mercy and affection for me. But He’s also Heavenly- capable of seeing the big picture and orchestrating everything for my good, even when my vision is too small to comprehend the meaning behind the struggles I face.
So no, Nothing is Wasted.
But MAN. Things are finally coming together and I could literally could not be happier. And I think all the time I spent dreaming and hoping has made this moment even more important to me. My excitement right now made the time I spent waiting worth it.
Oh goodness, words can’t even describe how excited I am. And this time, in the figurative building of life, I’m getting a dang seat in the front and nothing’s going to stop me.