Stranded at the Top of a Roller Coaster

The last few months have been hectic and stressful. I could go into  the details and perhaps justify our absence on this blog, but Paul tells me that I need to stop apologizing to ya’ll (our readers) because I’m starting to sound, as he so eloquently put it, “weird about it.” So, “no apology for you!” (better if spoken in  “soup-nazi” voice : )

Still, one particularly powerful side-effect of this stress is a type of fog that has settled on my mind. I spend so much of my mental energy planning (and worrying) about the changes facing us as we enter the Air Force that I have little creativity to marshal my thoughts about other issues.

In other words, I get nothing so you get nothing : )

The fact is, the very few rough drafts that I have written in the last few weeks have been so … insanely tedious, and boring, and, just, *blah*, that I couldn’t bring myself to publish them.

Paul’s analogy for this coming summer is that it is the second half of a roller coaster experience. The last few months have been the somewhat predictable initial meanderings of the ride. Our car left the starting gate, had some slow points, some moments when we felt jerked around, some moments when we came to a sharp curve we didn’t expect, but by the beginning of May we felt as though we were on the slow, steep rise that signals a giant drop ahead. Our anticipation/dread/excitement of the coaster’s steep drop and the furiously fast and crazy conclusion to the summer has been growing since Paul’s final paper work, physical fitness test and interview were completed the first week of May. After that we mentally closed our eyes, clutched the handlebars and waited for the ground to drop out from under us as we started flying towards our move at the end of the summer. It was then that my ability to focus on anything else became limited and I couldn’t seem to think about anything other than that one imminent event.

But, the drop hasn’t come yet. It’s like the roller coast had a technical malfunction and we are stranded at the top of the hill facing downwards but not moving.mf_181-001

The “technical” malfunction is a letter. We are waiting for one little letter with one little line requiring Paul’s signature to arrive in our mailbox before we can officially say that we are “in” the Active Duty Air Force.  Until that letter arrives we can’t be given an assignment (we don’t know where we’re going yet), can’t put our house on the market (because the military can be crazy and until I have the official letter, I’m not giving up my house), we can’t pack (because a stateside move would allow us to move ourselves but an overseas assignment would require that the Air Force move everything), we can’t plan for the boys’ schooling (Private school? Homeschool? Base school? All depends on where we are!), and  I can’t look for a new job or a new house.  But probably the most frustrating part of this is that I feel like we are in limbo with our friends and family. We’re 99.9% sure that we are leaving, but honestly, that .01% possibility that something goes wrong and we end up staying kind of makes me want to hold off on getting “all emotional” with people yet.

So we sit here, stuck. I suppose that people trapped at the top of a roller coast could notice some of the positive aspects of their predicament (a nice breeze, alone time with their spouse, unparalleled views, etc.) but they most likely aren’t doing any of these things. Instead, they are gripped with fear. The thoughts, “What’s happening? Why aren’t we moving? How long are we going to be here!” would probably dominate their thinking and make it hard to focus on anything else going on in that moment. I only suspect this because similar anxious questions scroll unbidden through my head these days.

Obviously, the biblical principles of trusting God, waiting on his timing, believing in his goodness, and all other versions of “seeking his kingdom and righteousness” (Matt 6:33) have all flitted through my mind at some point or another. But it’s difficult to concentrate on even those truths when you’re stuck at the top of a (mental) roller coaster. “Yes, yes, yes…trust God and pursue righteousness. Uh Huh. I’ll do that. I’ll do it just as soon as we start moving again!”

Sigh. I can’t even tell you all the ways that God has helped me through this because frankly, we’re still in the middle of it and I am still a hot mess, mentally. What I can tell you is that between the times of my quiet worry and my wildly ridiculous suggestions (Me: “Can’t you just call the head of the chaplains and ask them to look into this??” Paul: “Only if I was crazy and fortunately for us, I’m not.” Me: “Really?” Paul: “Erhh, at least not in this case?”) God does remind me of his truth. God is good. God is wise. God is using this period of life to make me more like Jesus (even if in miniscule amounts : ). The waiting is hard. But at the end of the day, my fretful and anxious thoughts won’t change his good and sovereign plan for Paul and me (Matt 6:27). Instead, he asks me to rest in his wisdom and rely on his grace to carry me through this period of uncertainty. The cure for fear is not self-borne courage, but humble trust in the words of my Savior-God and the good disposition of my heavenly Father (Matt 6:26). One writer I read recently said that worry is “frustration at our inability to be God.” Humility says that God’s plan is better than mine. Thankfully, no matter how imperfectly I respond to this loving call, he remains persistent in his invitation.

So, praying friends, you can certainly pray that the letter arrives soon. But more importantly, you can pray that Paul and I can learn to enjoy the view while stuck at the top of our roller coaster.

1 Comment

  • Karen says:

    Oh, Liz! Thank you! This is exactly how I’ve been feeling this past year. I’m learning to praise God in the “hallway” as we wait for Him to open the next “door” for our family. But the analogy of a roller coaster seems so much more fitting. Did I mention I hate roller coasters? :) Praying for you.

    “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” -Jim Eliot

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