A year ago, I was in a massive transitional time. I had just graduated from college, was moving back to my home state, and preparing to start the Fellows program in the fall. I was anxious to see what this year would hold and terrified that I was making a mistake. I was interviewing for my job at Siloam and unsure of my qualifications. And on top of that, I had accepted a job for the summer that I never dreamed that I would have. Even though my surroundings were familiar – I was at camp for the 6th summer – I had to navigate a new staff, a new job description, and a new dynamic with those around me that was not meeting my expectations. I wanted certainty and wasn’t finding it anywhere.
During staff training, one of the head counselors shared a devotion with us that was both convicting and comforting. She read a poem called “Patient Trust” by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
“Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” That line spoke so much truth to me. I don’t want to accept anxiety. I want to do something about it. I want to construct my life so that I don’t feel anxiety. But there is beauty in transforming that anxiety into rest through trust in our Lord. But while that is something I know in my head, I struggle to accept it in my heart.
I continued through my time at camp with various uncertainties. Once I moved to Nashville I began thinking about nursing school applications, which opened a whole new realm of anxieties to manage. New relationships were forged and, as all new friendships do, made me wonder who I am and where I fit in this dynamic. As the year went on, God did His thing where He resolved my anxieties and took care of my needs in His perfect timing. And instead of basking in His goodness, I moved right along to the next thing I needed to be worried about. I was not good at resting in the in-between because I was so busy anticipating the next stages.
And now here we are, at the end of the Fellows. Some of us have jobs lined up, some are still waiting. Some have a place to live next year, others are wondering how they will decorate their cardboard box in Centennial Park. And the harshest reality for me is that most are staying but some of us are leaving. Trying to process that is one of the hardest parts of this year – the bittersweet feeling of excitement for what lies ahead and not wanting to leave my community here. There are so many things that we, as Fellows, as millennials, as Christians, are looking towards; trying to force ourselves on as though we could be today what time will make of us tomorrow. Our anxiety says, “I can do it.” The Lord says, “Why don’t you let me handle it?” And there – that moment when we say yes to God handling it is where the transformation happens.
Today, our CEO at Siloam sent out an e-mail with the subject line, “Patient Trust.” It has been about 9 months since I thought about that poem so I was pleasantly surprised when I read it again in an e-mail at work. I had to smile, realizing that all my anxious heart needs is a little patient trust and thankful for the reminder that God knows that about me.
So to the Fellows reading this, take it to heart. My prayer for all of us is that we look back on this intermediate time with joy and look toward our next stages with peace.