“Eat your peas,” I tell my kids as a plate of lukewarm food sits in front of them. “They’re good for you. And delicious.” But no one really thinks peas are delicious. They are just placeholders, something I opened from a can to fill space.
“But they are cold,” my daughter pouts. “And you know very well that I don’t like peas.” The fact that my daughter says things like “you know very well” and “if you don’t mind, I’d rather be excused” and in her free time dreams up song lyrics and imaginary worlds full of sparkles and iron gates with swirls – this alone I should cherish. And yet all I want is for her to eat her peas because bath time is coming up on the evening schedule. I toss away the remains of dinner to avoid a fight and allow her to eat applesauce against my better judgment.
I sigh at the waiting times. I watch peas roll into the trash after dinner and I think to myself – what a waste. I can’t see joy or light or give thanks and all I want is for bedtime to come so both kids are protected and safe. Sometimes it’s hard to sit through the raw edges of empty life spaces. It is hard to be grateful for routine, mundane, headache-laden days. My head hurts and my soul hurts and this big world is full of heart-voids that I run around trying to plug up with duct tape, the edges frayed and worn.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
I hate waiting. The very definition of wait is to remain or rest in expectation. But another definition is to delay, or remain temporarily neglected, like “the vacation we planned for years will just have to wait.” I can’t just remain at rest with anticipation. I’m not good in this space. I don’t have skills that others have to tolerate it, and I start to get anxious and nervous and pace around like a crazy person. When will it get here? How can I fix it? Is there a way I can hurry up this process? Eat your peas already! It reflects so loudly my own anxiousness. What am I afraid of? Why am I not able to accept things that I cannot change?
Wait on the Lord. In everything, give thanks. It’s a refrain that repeats like an annoying Christmas tune I can’t stop humming. Yes, yes. Thanks for children and a home and health and all that business. Lists and lists of joyful things. Someday my prince will come and life will turn up roses and patience is a virtue. Jesus gave thanks and Ann Voskamp gives thanks and everything is filled with joy and thanksgiving and waiting for the child to be born under a shining star. Blogs and books and little plaques with words. Give thanks! Find joy! Tis the season!
And yet life is so full of hurt that it’s painful to sit down on all the tacks. In my own life, I’m so focused on damage that I can’t keep enough duct tape around, constantly plugging and ripping and mending holes. Then I pace around and bite my nails to make the time go by faster. Bath time is a comin, kids. Let’s get this dinner thing wrapped up. I guess I don’t trust God’s big enough, or strong enough, to patch me.
And yet God is big enough. He is powerful enough. I don’t need to be in charge this time. I stand up, red and blotchy from the tape marks, and begin to laugh. Through my tear-stained eyes I laugh and dance to Taylor Swift with my sweet little girl and suddenly find myself offering a thousand little thanks.
Thank you dear Father, for this Christ child, who was half-man and half-God. Thank you for peas and curling irons and children with big thinking brains. Thank you for the ability to walk and write and drink clean water. Thank you for love. Thank you for my warrior friends who pick up my deadweight and carry it on their backs until I can stand again. Thank you for messages woven throughout the world in signs and emails and articles and dreams. Thank you for the bible, that instructs me when I need an operating manual. Thank you for never-ending grace that washes me clean.
The next time we eat peas, it will be a conscious act. I will buy them split and simmer them with ham and garlic and sautéed vegetables. I will spoon them in between my hungry lips and I will be grateful for their warm, comforting saltiness. There is even hope for peas.
Sometimes it’s hard to wait in periods of stillness. It’s hard to give thanks in those times. That’s okay. Keep telling yourself it’s wise and true, so that when your eyes are opened, you can see that angels were carrying you through the dark and warrior friends were shouldering so much of your heavy. Then you will begin to smile again, and be thankful for God’s far-reaching mercies, and say thanks to the world and God and little green peas. There is no need for me to manipulate solutions and fix my own holes.
God’s bigger than you think. Wait for him to do his work. And in all things dance, and sing, and eat your peas. Because they are delicious, after all.