When Waiting Feels Like Free-Falling or How Trust is my Nemesis

I loathe dislike waiting with a fiery passion.

I know, I know. Does anyone really like waiting? But I REALLLLLLY don’t like it.

I’ve been living in a state of constant frustration lately. As we prepare for our international move, I am beyond ready to have things settled. I want to have a job set up and waiting for me when I arrive. I want to find an apartment or rental house for us to live in. I want to get rid of as much uncertainty as possible. Yet every time I try to take a step forward, people tell me I can’t. That I have to wait. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs and received the response, “Why don’t you get in touch with us once you’ve arrived.” Hubby and I have spent hours looking for a place to live only to be told, “It’s really too early for you to be looking at rentals.”

I can barely keep myself from shouting, “But we are leaving in 65 days! It does not feel too early! I need to know NOW!” 

This whole situation has brought out an embarrassingly juvenile side of myself.  I feel angry all the time. A few days ago I burnt dinner. Before my husband could even say anything, I glared at him and said, “If you want a new one you have to make it yourself. I’m not making another one.” And he did. (That guy is a saint, I tell you).

It’s like I’ve taken all of my frustrations about the things I can’t do and tried to balance them out by making certain that I let everyone know what I will and will not do in any situation where I have the choice.

See, I like to pretend that I’m an adventurous person. And from the outside, I can see how I might look like one. After all, I live in a foreign country, I love to travel and to try new things, I’m preparing for my fourth move in five years – and three of those moves have been to places I’d never been before. Oh, and let’s not forget my illegal tattoo!

It’s easy to look like a laid-back, carefree adventurer in pictures. Don’t be fooled. It’s an illusion. I am all about the adventure, but it’s highly controlled adventure. I love being spontaneous, but it’s planned spontaneity. (Yes, there is such a thing).

I am that rare personality that combines constant yearning for adventure and excitement with an equally strong sense of responsibility. Add in an unhealthy dose of chronic anxiety, and you’ll see why I live in a state of constant inner-conflict. Basically, I’m a rebel trapped in a good girl’s body. Or maybe it’s the other way around…

Usually the way that I balance these parts of my personality is by planning as much as possible and preparing for all contingencies. (“Always be prepared!” as my Eagle Scout father instilled in me). I try to think things all the way through and prepare myself for the worst possible scenario. Once I feel prepared for whatever I might encounter, I can take the plunge and do something crazy because I know there’s a safety net in place. I know what I’ll do if things don’t go as planned.

We moved to Korea having never set foot in Asia. But we did a TON of research first. We secured jobs through the government so that we were sure there would be accountability for things like getting paid the proper amount on time. We chose to go through a program that would provide an orientation rather than one that left us to our own devices. And we talked to lots of people who had worked in Korea before. We arrived with an entire suitcase full of things we’d been told were difficult to find (deodorant, taco mix, and tampons) and we had decided from the very beginning to play things by ear. We signed a year-long contract that we would try hard to fulfill, but we’d told ourselves that if it was absolutely horrible, we could decide to go home. Safety net!

I’ve shared that I’ve been struggling with anxiety at a new level over the past few months as I’ve been faced with all the unknowns of our future, so I’ve tried to deal with this anxiety the best way I know how – by being responsible and making myself feel as secure and on top of things as I can. So it’s been not only frustrating, but frightening for me to be told over and over again that there’s nothing more I can do. That I just have to wait.

I am realizing that this is a big fat TRUST issue. (Ah, Trust, my nemesis. We meet again!) I am unable to accept that things might still be OK even if I can’t check all the things off of my list in the time frame that I want to. I am unable to rest in the knowledge that I’ve done everything I can do. I am unable to accept the logic that things will work out the way they are meant to work out, regardless of how much I worry about them now. I am unable to accept that when God leads us somewhere, he doesn’t leave us to figure everything out by ourselves.

I have a big fat trust issue and I’m being forced to trust anyway. It’s like God has taken away the lifelines of planning and responsibility and asked me to believe the safety net is there, even though I didn’t install it myself. It would be funny if it wasn’t so horrible.

Right now I feel like I’m in a slow-motion free fall. And I have two options – I can fall kicking and screaming and lashing out at everyone around me for all the things I can’t change, or I can relax and enjoy the view while it lasts.

HEADER IMAGE CREDIT: JUN GIL PARK ON FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

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21 comments

  1. Oh I can relate to the need for a safety net! Keep breathing! Your talk about trust reminded me of that quote – leap and the net will appear. Easier said than done hey? 🙂

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  2. Hi Lily – it’s tricky, isn’t it, that no man’s land between knowing you’re leaving a country and actually stepping on the plane? I remember it – nothing feels quite real. You’re not quite 100% in the place you are in and the place you’re going to is out of sight.

    There’s an Arabic saying, as I remember: “The soul travels at the speed of a trotting camel” and i remember sometimes feeling as if my personal camel set off the moment I knew I was leaving a country (which is sensible, I suppose, if you’re a responsible, soul-delivering camel trying to arrive at a new destination before a modern air traveller touches down!)

    From my advanced years, you have a touching faith in arrangements, once planned, coming to fruition. What’s that Woody Allen quote – “Man plans and God laughs”?

    I know what you mean, though – it’s hard to walk forward into fog. In my mind, it’s not so much about planning or setting things up, it’s more about having a safety-net (of money, friends, family) just in case the stepping stones of your life are a bit further apart than you would have liked.

    You sound as if you’re rubbing up against your own personal time-line of how things ‘should’ be, and getting blisters in the process. I’m not sure that people are telling you to ‘wait’ – reading your post, it sounds more as if they’re telling you not to start waiting yet.

    The truth is, you’re alive. Your husband is alive. You’re healthy, you’re together. Revel in that.

    Notice your discombobulation if you like, but don’t be driven by it. It’s a bigger version of that feeling we all get in a train station/airport when our family has come to see us off, said their goodbyes, and then the train/plane is delayed. And suddenly, we don’t know what to say to each other. What you’re feeling is a natural part of living in different countries – the bit before you leave and before you’ve arrived. The gap.

    Imagine waiting to become a dragonfly – you’d have to spend 5 years down in the mud as a naiad. Now that would be a test of trust!

    All best wishes for your peace of mind

    Elaine

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      1. A pleasure, Lily – I hope it didn’t read as ‘I know all there is to know about international travel’. That’s not my intention. It was more to shine a light on your struggle from a slightly different angle. Extra light generally helps.

        Your struggle is your struggle and your feelings are slightly different from what I remember about mine. It sounds, from the bare bones of your post, as if you have an extra layer of discomfort because you believe you ‘should’ trust in the future that is unfolding before you. And you believe that you’re failing in some way if you don’t. That’s harsh.

        Humans don’t like uncertainty – what’s that Mark Twain quote? – “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” So you’re standing with the rest of humanity in your discomfort at the change that you know is coming.

        It sounds as if the ‘shoulds’, those things we construct to feel as if we have some control over life, that are causing you the most pain.

        It’s always good to have intentions – as a map. But, like a map, life expands on either side of the train-line that we intended to take from A to B. Trains get cancelled, train tickets get sold out, but somehow, we work out how to get to B anyway – we catch a taxi and the taxi driver tells us a story that stays with us for the rest of our lives, we take 3 connecting trains instead of one (and pass through, or stay overnight in, towns we never would have known existed otherwise). And we get there.

        I’m sure you know the Cavafy poem ‘Ithaca’ – but here’s a version read with a wonderful Scottish brogue by Sean Connery and Greek music by Vangelis http://bit.ly/1JJMCaE

        I hope you relish your last few weeks in Korea – it’s a place I’ve never been, so I may be consulting you for travel tips in the future!

        Best wishes
        Elaine

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  3. I absolutely relate to this post 100% right now! My husband and I are moving back to South Africa from the UK at the end of the year, and we’re not even sure where to move to (it’s a big country, jobs can be tricky to organise from abroad, and we’re really not keen to stay for any length of time with family and don’t have a lot of extra money as a fallback.) My husband has a job possibility teaching at a school with free accommodation thrown in – for both of us! Which would be the ultimate in ‘set-ups’ as it sorts out at least two of the things we need to organise. But we’re still *waiting* to hear about it, and until it’s finalised, I feel so anxious that my whole body is freaking out. So I totally get this – it’s not helpful when people tell you to just ‘relax and be patient’ or that ‘worrying never solved anything’. These transitions are just always going to be tough. But at the same time, I wish you peace, and faith and stillness as you wait…

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    1. Yes, Andrea. I am the same way! Even when I think I have things under control mentally, my body will freak out – stomachaches and headaches and twitches and heart palpitations. Sometimes I’ll feel totally calm emotionally and it’s like everything’s just been transferred into my body instead. Like no matter what I do I can’t really get rid of it.

      I also wish you peace and stillness in your wait. In my better moments I can remember that even the worst-case scenario (not being able to find a job for a while and living off of savings) is not what we want, but it won’t be the end of the world. And I’m sure I can get a job doing SOMETHING (working retail or something) if we are really getting desperate. It feels like we’re on the verge of catastrophe, but if I let myself think it all the way through to the worst that could happen, I know that we have family and friends who would help us any way they could. We won’t be homeless and we won’t go hungry. But most days, that doesn’t feel comforting enough. 😉 I am thinking of you and praying for you and your move and all the feels that go with it. I am so with you in all of this.

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  4. Lily. resist! Try focusing on more short-term plans, and just write down the things you can’t do now, so they don’t just hover over you head all the time. Write them down next to a date, and then leave them there until that day arrives!
    Hugs!!!

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    1. I actually think that’s really good advice. I’m going to do that. Just write down the things that need to happen so that I feel like I’ve given them some thought, and put them further down the calendar so I can look at them later. Thanks for the advice!

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  5. you are SO where i was about 2 years ago looking for a job, and then again this winter/spring as we bought a house… i so relate. but God is so faithful. it’s hard waiting, hard trusting, but the stories after of God’s provision are so amazing, aren’t they?

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    1. They really are. I’m often convicted by how like the grumbling Israelites I am. I always used to think, “What morons! God delivered them from Egypt and parted the Red Sea and provided literal food from heaven and they are still all worried that he’s not going to take care of them.” But I do this all the time. When I look back on my life I see provision at every step – even when it didn’t look the way I expected, it was there. Never have we been homeless or hungry. And we have families that care for us and would never let those things happen if it came down to it. So even the worst case scenario here isn’t THAT bad. and still I complain and worry and fail to trust. How many times does God have to prove himself before I believe him?!

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