I don’t like to be kept waiting.
I could even say I hate waiting, if using the word “hate” wasn’t against my proper Southern upbringing.
And yet, waiting seasons—long or short—are one of God’s favorite methods of teaching me.
One such time of delay involved a desperate—and in hindsight—a rather silly search for a mother-of the-groom dress.
After months of planning, our son and his fiancé decide to forego the big wedding. Instead, they announce their desire for a simple ceremony.
I was so in favor of simple.
But then, they inform us they are moving the wedding up three months.
Wait a minute.
I’ve already chosen a rehearsal dinner site, and made what seems like hundreds of other parent-of-the groom arrangements for an out of state wedding.
And now, I’m making those same decisions again, spending hours on the phone, switching out venues, finding alternate dates, experiencing the hurry-up of an earlier than anticipated wedding date.
Finally, one major item remains on my list. Finding a dress somewhat comparable to the style the mother-of-the-bride chose—a short silk suit.
What could be so hard about that?
After multiple trips to major malls in two different cities, I eventually find the perfect dress. The only problem is it’s the same one the mother of the bride bought.
I wish I could say I took this minor setback with ease. But I didn’t.
The wedding is now a month away.
I obsess over finding the perfect dress. It’s all I talk about. My family wishes I would change the subject.
I do hours of Internet searches on out-of-the-way boutiques, and visit more than a few of them. And still we don’t find the dress. My preacher man exceed his life time quota of shopping trips.
Then, on a trip to visit relatives in a neighboring state, I remember a little shop in a nearby town.
They think they have the perfect dress.
It’s almost perfect. A small adjustment here and there, and it just might work.
My preacher man joins me in the dressing room while the shop owner pins the dress for alterations. The owner asks about our son and future daughter-in-law.
We mention their calling to Christian service. And just like that, this one statement about Christian service opens a pathway to his heart.
He begins to talk about his spiritual concerns. He shares his faith. His doubts.
And our four by four dressing room turns into a cubicle of Grace.
Two hours later, we are still talking. We encourage him, and pray with him.
In the meantime, I sit down, and when I stand up, the back of that perfect dress looks like crinkled up tissue paper.
I envision walking out of the church, but all I see is a wrinkled mess of a dress.
“I can’t do anything about it,” the storeowner said. “It’s the nature of silk organza.”
Too often my nature is to make every situation all about me.
I apologize to the shop owner for taking up his afternoon. He’s gracious. “Our meeting was a divine encounter, much more important than selling a dress,” he said.
I leave the shop without a short silk suit, but with an insight about those frustrating seasons when we’re waiting for life to work out.
As I walk to our car, I sense the Holy Spirit nudge me, and I hear the Voice.
This delay was never about you or your dress. It was always about this man.
And I realize, oh so belatedly, if I had found the dress quickly, I would have never gone on an all-out-search for an out-of-the-way boutique.
We would have never met this man. We would have never encouraged him.
And we would have missed experiencing poured out grace in the middle of a dressing room.
How I wish God would always clue me in on how our lives interweave with each other’s.
How I wish I could tell you that every time I’m faced with a frustrating situation, my first thought is how God might use my circumstance to impact someone else.
But I can’t.
Sooner or later, most often later, it crosses my mind and I remember.
Maybe. This. Isn’t. About. Me.
What if my delay leads to a divine, God-arranged moment of grace for someone else?
And I recall this truth.
He has made everything beautiful in its time…Ecclesiastes 3:11
P.S…In case you’re wondering, I found a dress at the very next boutique—a mere two states away.
How do you handle times of delay? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share in the comment section.