Waiting amid love’s delay

What are you waiting for?

I’ve often found myself before the Blessed Sacrament, pouring my heart out to Christ and laying my desires beside him on the altar. And while he has consoled me time and again, the resounding answer is often, “Be patient. Wait.”

Sometimes, this simple response consoles my heart, reminding me that God is present amid this season of waiting — particularly this season of singleness. Other times, I want to politely ask everyone in the chapel to leave before I explode in a temper tantrum before Christ.

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I remember sitting in the adoration chapel at my childhood parish one evening in high school, pen in hand as I journaled about the future. College was on the horizon, and with it came the potential for change. Maybe, just maybe, this season of waiting was nearing its end.

As the ink recorded the state of my heart and relayed my thoughts to God, I admitted how I wished to jump ahead to the future — to when I would be married to a holy man, settled down in a cute little house pampering our adorable kids. While I knew I was looking at the future through rose-colored glasses, I still desired to leap forward to whatever my life would look like when the season of waiting would be over. But, I knew each moment in between was part of my story, and if I was to skip these moments, I would miss important seasons as well. So, I prayed for patience.

Now, years later, I still find myself in this particular season of waiting. Yes, I’ve learned (and am learning) to thrive in the blessed life I’ve been given, accepting each moment as an opportunity to let God sanctify my life and prepare me for whatever he has planned. Yet, I still have days where I want to flip tables and press the skip button.

Whenever my heart aches with this particular burden of waiting, I turn to the devoted presence of my heavenly sister, St. Thérèse, for she, too, was told to wait for her vocation.

When Thérèse first asked to become a religious sister by the age of 15, her pleas were met with rejection. While her beloved father agreed to let her part from him, others were not so keen on the idea. The parish pastor thought she was too young to be making such an important decision. Mother superior at Carmel agreed, as did the vicar general and bishop of the diocese. Yet, Thérèse was undeterred; her desire could not be quenched. So, during a pilgrimage to Rome, she knelt before Pope Leo XIII and begged for his permission to allow her to enter the cloister. To her disappointment, the pope kindly told her, “You will enter if it is God’s will.” This was not the answer Thérèse was looking for. Still, she continued to pray, consoled with the knowledge that this desire of her heart came from God and that, in his timing, he would see to it that she became his bride. And, through God’s gentle providence, she did, even at such a young age.

But, lest you think this little saint had it easy, this season was a period of agonizing waiting. Thérèse recalls in her autobiography that it was a dark night of the soul, her own personal agony in the garden as her heart burned with desire to be united with Christ as his bride while knowing that God first wanted her to wait. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said in a sermon about Thérèse, “In the meantime, there was this delay of God’s love.”

We’ve all experienced moments like this, even long seasons where the desire of our heart burns so purely, so deeply, but God gently tells us, “Not yet.” It’s moments like these where I hold fast to my heavenly sister, who has interceded for me on numerous occasions regarding my vocation. And each week, I kneel before her relic on a side altar at my parish and entrust my vocation into her hands once again.

Scripture tells us that “The Lord does not delay his promise” (2 Peter 3:9). And while this can be hard to hear, it reveals the truth about God’s love. God doesn’t promise to fulfill our desires on our timeline. Rather, he promises to fulfill our hearts in a way that will bring us the greatest joy and closest to him, even if it takes longer than we wish.

We all have seasons of waiting. Maybe you are like me, living this single season and waiting for God to bring you a godly man or ask you to be his bride as a religious sister. Maybe you are married and are waiting for that pregnancy test to finally be positive. Or maybe it’s a job change, a season where finances are not incredibly tight, peace within your family, etc. Whatever it is, we are all waiting for something.

As Fulton Sheen said in the same sermon, “… if you are praying for certain favors, be prepared for love’s delay, but keep praying. Do not give up.” So, I choose each day to have faith that God hears my prayers and desires my good even more than I ever could. But, like Thérèse, it just might take a little longer than I want. It may be a delay of love, but love still awaits.

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