The navy dress I wore for my interview looked quite professional and cute, but the fabric did not breathe. In my jittery, “oh, please like me” state, that means I was sweating as though trapped in a sauna for hours. The outer fabric, however, did not reveal my drippy condition, while I sat trussed up by the red belt threatening to cut off my air supply. Lacking oxygen and overly warm, the anxiety threatened to consume — as it does whenever I would really like something to work out.
And so I found myself grateful for a chance to recenter, when the interview team opened with a reading and discussion of Jesus calling Peter to discipleship in Luke 5:1-11. Right around verse 5 in the story, a quiet voice broke in, “You can trust Me with this.”
It wasn’t a promise that victory is mine, but the reminder I can trust God in the process. I don’t know whether I’m still in the long, exhausting night of empty and seemingly meaningless hauling — or whether my net will come back full this time.
Like Simon Peter in Luke 5, we all labor and cast out nets — whether literal or metaphorical. And then, we wait. Will the net be empty? Are there signs we finally caught something? If it all comes up empty, will we try again though our arms and backs scream for us to call it quits? Will we find an opportunity to notice Jesus present with us?
Even as I feel God led me here, I’ve lost triumphal faith, and turned instead to the opportunity to learn. Here again, faith is teaching me process over perfect, growth instead of easy victory.
Peace settled in for the interview and for the remainder of the afternoon. But, like water in my hands, peace slipped through my grasp. And nervousness, excitement, fear, and anticipation began running an endless loop through my brain.
I try to cut off the begging and pleading prayer in favor of trust.
But trust in the vague continued presence of God is less compelling than the desire for confidence that God will do something. I want to be chosen, and all I can do is wait.
In short, I’d rather avoid pain, and I’d like God to fix this for me. But, that’s not usually the way God works.
The “God-will-do-it” faith fractured when my mom died, splintered a little more with the death of my father-in-law, and shattered altogether during the years of infertility. Instead, I hold only the quiet confidence that God can bring something redemptive and transforming from the struggles if I lean into them instead of hiding. I just wish I knew what the outcome God is working toward will be.
In the period of waiting, I force my eyes on the present. Weeding helps. Plucking creeping charlie from around the tomatoes and digging up crabgrass choking out the eggplants offers a diversion. Or at least, my brain focuses on the task before me while I work on my hands and knees in the dirt, dodging mosquitoes aiming for my face. I loathe weeding: the bugs, the heat, the grimy dirt covering me from head to toe.
But, still, it helps. Probably because weeding forces attention to what I can do, and I let go of the spiraling anxiety about matters beyond my immediate control. Plus, seeing work successfully completed gives a feeling of accomplishment, even when other parts of life feel up in the air.
Regardless of the outcome, we’re still invited to trust and learn. Even though the night’s work was long and empty, Jesus has not yet abandoned us to our own devices. And perhaps, at times, we need to work ourselves to exhaustion or desperation — to the point where we find ourselves willing to listen to Jesus. Perhaps wit’s end is the place which gets us beyond confident self-reliance and into actual dependence on Jesus.
It doesn’t mean I enjoy the topsy-turvy feeling. I am just learning how to live with it. Maybe that’s enough. It’ll have to be.