For my sisters in the struggle, my fellow prayer warriors who bum rush altar calls and wait, who bombard clergy with prayer requests and wait, who read and meditate on their Word and wait, who—bless their souls—fast from food in order to hear God’s voice more clearly and wait again, who visualize their goals and rebuke their naysayers with a vehement “in the name of Jeee-sus!” just to wait some more: we are kindred spirits. Only you would be able to understand the kind of nerve-wracking patience that comes from being on hold for the Lord. And only you would be able to truly understand when I meekly but sincerely wring my hands, throw my face to the heavens and ask: Lord, where are you?
Let there be no question that I am a homespun church girl who’s grown up into a woman of genuine faith. I love God. I mean, I truly revel in his presence in my life. But I’ve sat through just about enough sermons and been spoon fed more than my fair share of scripture about my upcoming new season or my inheritance just around the corner. That’s the kind of good church talk that makes Sister Jenkins and them throw their shoulders back and get to setting that microfiber carpet on fire with their foot scuffling praise dancing. But when my earthly needs start kicking my spiritual idealism square in its warm and fuzzy tail, I need to see God’s movement as much as I need to feel God’s presence. And right now, I’m not.
What makes the pause period even more boggling is that banks won’t wait. Creditors won’t wait. Boot and tow guy? Yeah, he’s not gonna wait either. So in the midst of praying and fasting and tithing and frantically flipping pages of the Bible to keep yourself from completely and totally divorcing all of your good sense, more trouble can pile in from every angle. The promises of the Lord are supposed to sustain you, true. But perhaps God can go on ahead and set up an in-the-meantime number that you can direct folks to when their patience is wearing thin but yours is supposed to be growing.
Old, fire baptized saints will furrow their sanctified brows and doubt the salvation of anyone who even dare to hint that God isn’t right on time and the church will teach you all about not falling faint in the race to do God’s will. But sometimes people just aren’t real enough about that meanwhile process. That thing is rough. It’s hard to stay pumped up on faith when, like my man Donnie McClurkin says, you pray and cry, pray and cry and pray and cry some more. It doesn’t matter if your struggle is about your finances (or lack thereof) or tragic love or family issues or health problems. Waiting on God is difficult and you can’t help but to wonder when the pre-promised breakthroughs you hear preached and prophesized are actually going to manifest.
That makes having a circle of faithful people around you who can keep it all the way funky in times of need an absolute must. Otherwise, no matter how much you love the Word, it’s gonna start sounding sour. We’re only human and honey chile, the conflict between what our eyes can see, what our hands can touch and what our spirits can address can turn into an all-out brawl if you don’t have good folks to pray for you when you’re all prayed out, when you don’t want to see another “and Jesus said” scripture in red, when you suck your teeth at the sound of poor Smokie Norful’s voice because you just can’t listen to or sing along with not one more gospel tune. Go on ahead and have your downtime. Sulk, vent, scream and cry. Take your anger and frustration to the Lord and let him have it straight no chaser. Just don’t give up—and this is a pep talk for any of y’all out there as much as it’s a pick-me-up for me, myself and I. Because falling out of faith may happen from time to time but thank goodness—nah, thank God—we will never, ever fall out of favor.