I love roller coasters. I love all kinds: suspension, steel, wooden, stand-up...you name it, I’ll ride it. I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania, where at least one summer trip to Kennywood Park each year was a must. My brother and I would ride every roller coaster in the park: The Racer--two coasters that “raced” each other; The Jack Rabbit which felt like it was literally jumping off the track; and The Steel Phantom--both a tribute to the steel industry of the area and the park’s first steel track coaster. But my favorite, the one I would ride over and over, was and still is The Thunderbolt. Originally built in 1924, it has a maximum drop of 95 feet, reaches a maximum speed of 55 mph, and takes 108 seconds from start to finish. It continually ranks as one of the top wooden roller coasters in the country.
I love the feel and sounds of a wooden roller coaster. After strapping myself in and tightly gripping the restraint bar in front of me, I hear the click, click, click as the cars go up the lift hill. I savor the pause of excited apprehension right before roaring down the hill, delighting in the jolting ride as the cars rumble over the wooden track. Finally I sigh contentedly at the slow fade of excitement as the coaster reaches the station once again.
Yet, the one roller coaster that I do not like is the one that I have been riding for the past two years. The name of this roller coaster: Infertility. There is excited apprehension on this ride also, but the slow fade of excitement each month is not one that I meet with a feeling of contentment. Instead of laughter and comments of, “Let’s ride it again!” there have been tears, disappointment, and comments of, “Why has this happened again?”God has proven time and again that His plan for my life is far better than anything I can come up with on my own. I trust His plan, and I tell Him this. But I also tell Him how frustrated I am, how angry I am with His timing. This is not the first time God has asked me to wait. He reminds me that He asked me to wait for the man whom He had chosen to be my husband. He reminds me how that waiting period was purposeful. He tells me that this waiting is similar. There is much going on behind the scenes that I am not aware of. He is working, and my work is to wait and to trust. He promises me that He has not forgotten me or my desire to become a mom.
"For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3
There is a difference between waiting and waiting with a purpose. Knowing that this waiting has a purpose, makes it easier, but it is not easy. Much like a roller coaster has a cycle: leave the station; ascend the lift hill; zoom through hills, valleys, dips, turns, and loops; and return to the station – I also go through an emotional cycle each month. I talk to God, I listen to God, and I am at peace with His plan. Then excitement and apprehension build as the end of the month draws closer. One day late, two days late...even more excitement. And then…
Then there are frustration, tears, and anger. There are gentle, loving reminders from my husband to ask God what He wants me to know right now, at this moment. So I go to my God - sometimes grudgingly - and I listen. As always, He expresses how much He loves me. He tells me that He is not withholding from me, that I don’t have to strive; this is not something I can earn. When I ask Him why it feels like He is withholding, He points out that I am seeing the situation through my limited mind but that He is an unlimited God. He reminds me that waiting has a purpose, that in order to appreciate the gift, waiting is necessary. He explains that night must fall to help me love the morning. I must experience winter to truly enjoy the spring. Sadness makes happiness that much more enjoyable. I need the waiting to appreciate the receiving.
In Becoming Who You Are, Dutch Sheets recounts Dan Jansen’s Olympic efforts in 1988, 1992, and 1994. Jansen tried and tried to earn a medal but failed each time until the 1994 Olympic Games. Even then, it looked as if Jansen’s hopes for a medal would be dashed when he slipped, touched the ice, but kept going. It didn’t matter. He broke a world record in that race. Would that world record have been as sweet had Jansen not experienced the trials in the previous two Olympics? Would he have appreciated that 1994 gold medal as much had he not known failure before? Maybe. Probably not.
Would my marriage to the amazing man that God brought into my life be as wonderful had I not experienced the waiting, the longing for a godly man? Would I appreciate this life I have now as much had I not known the pain and heartache of a previous divorce? Would I welcome the wonder that is motherhood without this season of waiting? Maybe. Probably not.
Even though this particular roller coaster ride is not as fun as The Thunderbolt, it is thrilling. It may not always be a happy ride, but it is a joyful one. And so I strap myself in to this roller coaster car, and I let go of the restraint bar in front of me. I lift my hands to the God who has my life in the palms of his hands, who has a grand plan for me of which I don’t know all the details. And I trust that when the coaster finally returns to the station after a successfully thrilling ride, I will smile, turn to my God, and say, “Let’s ride it again!”