My legs hung down as I sat on the cinderblock wall just outside my middle school. I had just waved goodbye to my friend Mark as he road off on his GT-Pro Perfomer bike, heading home, only a few blocks away. Only 3 or 4 cars remained in the parking lot, most likely teachers that would be leaving as soon. I can recall wishing that I lived close enough to ride my bike home from school but this was out of the question considering we lived 20 miles away. The minute hand rolled by so slowly on my plaid Swatch watch and from what I could tell, it “seemed” my ride was about 30 minutes late. I would have just called but cell phones weren’t around yet and fear of walking in to the school office kept me perched up on that wall. More time ticked by and still no sign of the white Vovlo station wagon that would get me home.
She’s never late. Something must be wrong. Don’t Panic.
Like clockwork, my mother would pick me up from school each day but for some reason, this day, it wasn’t happening. Multiple scenarios raced around my 7th grade mind, one involving alien abduction but I managed to keep it together for the time being. Don’t Panic. I chose to spend my time throwing pebbles at ants instead of completing my homework and honestly, those ants seemed like they deserved it. It wasn’t until a creeping shadow from the eucalyptus tree across the street crossed my path, alerting me to the setting sun that a hint of actual panic set in.
Almost 30 year later, I wait again. There have been pauses along the way but for most of my adult life, I’ve been employed. One job ends, another opportunity is already waiting for me. That is, until this year. It was time to move on and I did. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I have a few friends who have made similar leaps into the unknown over the past few years and each story is different. Would I fill my time? Would I do everything I could to prepare for the next thing? Would I use the time to heal? Would I freak out?
The truth is, I’ve done each of those things. I’ve been busy, I’ve been preparing, I’ve been healing and I’ve panicked. I swore I wouldn’t. The shadows from that tree started to creep in around me again, hinting that I’m not good enough, that I’m not qualified, that I should have chosen another carrier path, that I should definitely panic…
Arthur C. Clarke said Douglas Adams’ use of “don’t panic” from The Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity. I can choose to spend my time worrying about what’s next or I can enjoy this gift that I’ve been given.
Time with my family
Projects I’ve wanted to work on for years
Encouragement from family and friends
Books I’ve put off reading
Just a few of the gifts I’ve been given during this season of life. This doesn’t mean that I simply ignore my current reality but it does matter how I live in it.
My mom never did pick me up that day and I had to spend the night perched up on that wall. Ok..that’s not true at all. In reality, she drove up only a few minutes later reminding me that she did tell me that she would be a little late picking me up that day. I’m grateful for the wisdom found in the scriptures that remind me of God’s faithfulness. A new friend reminded me this week of the passage in James that tells us “every good and perfect gift comes from above.” I’ve accepted this gift of waiting and I anticipate the next steps.