The longing paralyzed me. “Hope deferred makes a heart sick,” the proverb seemed to mock. Yes, my heart was sick. My imagination ran wild with thoughts of what it would be like when — if — it actually happened. Then, I’d snap back into reality as I kissed my baby girl good-bye, not to see her again for ten long hours.
My heart had been changed. My desire for the job I loved was overtaken by the desire to spend these precious years with my children. But when a family builds its life on two incomes, change doesn’t occur in an instant. My husband and I worked hard, cutting excess, saving, doing everything we could to allow ourselves to become a one-income family.
The two-year wait seemed excruciating.
But I’ll never forget when it finally happened. When my husband gave me the go-ahead. My stomach wound in knots as I broke the news to my employer, who had been so good to me for almost a decade. Still, our wait was finally coming to an end.
As I began adjusting to my new life as a stay-at-home mom, I appreciated every single moment: my ability to “be” with my family in the evenings instead of using that time to cook and clean…the first snow when I didn’t have to worry about driving to work…the days when Drew was sick and he could remain in his bed instead of my hauling him to my mom for the day.
But would I have appreciated all of those little things, had I realized my dream the moment that desire had sparked in my heart?
I don’t think so.
I think in our fast-paced lives, we’ve missed the power of anticipation.
Have you noticed the branches of the trees these past few weeks, awaiting their bloom? It began with a slight bulging, undetectable if you weren’t paying attention. Then, with each passing week, those bulges enlarge, ever so slightly. Soon the trees that looked like sticks just a few weeks ago are shrouded with knobby branches.
My favorite tree to watch is the Bradford Pear, one of the first heralds of spring. These unassuming trees dot my neighborhood, and I took an extra glance this week at their swelling branches. Anticipation bubbled up in me; I’m sure any day now they’ll burst forth with a snowy display, announcing the beginning of the growing season for the rest of creation.
Not only does creation remind us of this joy of long-awaited anticipation, but we see it in Scripture as well. Thousands of years passed between the first promise of a Messiah in beginning of Genesis and the arrival of Jesus. Even now, we grow weary in our wait for His return.
Could it be, from the simple pleasures like my wait to become a stay-at-home-mom, to the grand events such as Jesus’s second coming, we miss that the joy is found at not only the end of — but also in the midst of — great anticipation?
As I drive down the road today, observing the trees with their expectant buds, I’m reminded of what I wait for even now. My children coming to know Jesus. My dream of writing and speaking. Restoration in relationships. A prodigal to return. An answer to a specific prayer.
And I realize it’s okay. Hope realized wouldn’t be near as sweet if its delay hadn’t caused the heart to be sick with longing in the first place. May I find joy in the anticipation, while waiting for the joy in celebration.
What are you waiting for today? How can you find joy in the anticipation?