After I finally got a book contract for When God Says “Wait”(the whole process took approximately 17 million years), I joked to my husband that I was going to name my next book When God Says “Yes” Immediately.
Well, I didn’t name my next project that, but I did name it When God Says “Go,” and—well . . . I’m thrilled to announce that God has said go!
When God Says “Go” is all about overcoming fear and insecurity when God pushes you out of your comfort zone—when God calls you to go, to give, or to grow in ways that scare the pants off of you. We’ll take a look at Bible characters whom God called—how God called, what they feared, what God said.
Honestly? I’m scared to death to write this book, because it means facing my own fears, staring down my own demons. But I’m embracing it, and I’m diving in with my whole heart. (Note to self: “Stop writing books about your weaknesses. It’s both difficult and humbling.”)
I’m super grateful to the wonderful team at Barbour (Shiloh Run Press) for saying yes to this project! And I hereby declare my agent, Jessica Kirkland, the Book Contract Ninja.
In the meantime, I’d appreciate your prayers as I get started. I’ll be wearing a lot of sweatpants and—of course—drinking a lot of coffee as I write my little brains out this summer. And next summer, I hope you’ll go on this fear-fighting journey with me, when the book hits stores.
When I was seven, I rode Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain at Disney World, got terrified out of my Jams and jelly shoes… and that was it. (Jams and jelly shoes—anyone else wear those? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) From then on, I swore off roller coasters. I successfully avoided the rattling death traps for years, too chicken even to get in line. But the summer I turned sixteen, I got roped into going to Six Flags with a group of friends.
For the first hour or so, I held my ground: I wasn’t there for the roller coasters; I was just there for my friends. I paired up with Geoff, the other kid in our group who was too afraid to ride, and we wandered around the park together. (It occurs to me now that it’s possible Geoff was just pretending to be scared to make me feel less like a loser and to make sure I didn’t spend the day alone…if so, thanks, Geoff. Seriously.)
Meanwhile, the rest of our group tore across the park together, laughing and giddy, seeking adventure. Geoff and I ate some junk food. Talked about Nirvana and the Cranberries. Watched other people line up for rides. Listened to the whoosh of the coasters, the screams of the riders. Studied people when they stumbled off, high-fiving and grinning, weak-kneed and windblown, but not dead. After a while, Geoff and I turned to each other and said, “We’re being lame. We have to at least try one ride. If we hate it, we don’t have to do it again. (Assuming we survive, that is…but let’s not think about that.)”
So we picked the mildest ride we could find, got in line behind a bunch of six-year-olds, and bit our nails down to the quick while we waited. We chose seats somewhere in the middle of the coaster, where it was supposed to be the least scary, and talked each other out of wimping out at the last minute. When the ride jolted us forward, I shut my eyes and gripped the bar so hard my fingers locked up. My insides turned to ice. As we tipped back and ratcheted sloooooooooowly up that first high-as-Mount-Everest incline, I screamed until my vocal chords shredded to bits, took a breath, and then I screamed some more.
We reached the top of the first hill. Time stopped. My heart tried to rocket out of my chest. We started free-falling. My stomach plummeted into my toes; my bladder threatened revolt. I shut my eyes and curled up tight inside myself until I could hardly feel the wind tearing at my face. All I could think was, Please don’t let me die please don’t let me die please don’t let me die.
At last the ride screeched to a halt. I took three seconds to make sure all my body parts were still attached and (most importantly) to make sure my pants were still dry. My vocal chords were destroyed and my fingers seemed permanently glued to the railing, but besides that, I was intact and unharmed. And then, as if I had stepped outside my own body, I watched my head turn to Geoff and listened to my own raspy voice squeak, “That was THE BEST THING EVER! Let’s do it again!”
Geoff nodded eager agreement, his wide eyes mirroring my I’m-terrified-but-still-totally-exhilarated expression. Turns out, we’d both had the time of our lives…but we hadn’t been able to register the joy of the experience until the ride had ended.
Off we sprinted to the next coaster, a scarier one. We had both squandered that first ride, just praying to survive, but we didn’t waste the next one. As the day wore on, we got bolder. I started opening my eyes—just a crack at first, a little timid peep—until eventually, I opened my eyes all the way, almost the whole time. Geoff was the first to let go of the rail and wiggle a few fingers in the air on the way up the inclines. After a few more rides, I threw my hands up and surrendered to the stomach-lurching, bone-rattling thrill. By day’s end Geoff and I had conquered every terrifying ride Six Flags had to offer. We were full-fledged adrenaline junkies.
Sometimes waiting feels motionless, but other times it’s a roller coaster. It hurtles us up and down and all around—from uncertainty to terror to euphoria—till our emotions show signs of whiplash. We’re getting what we want—just kidding, not getting what we want; The Thing is finally happening—nope, not happening at all; God is saying yes—just kidding, He’s saying no—or maybe He’s saying wait—uh, we have no idea what God is saying… But guess what? We get to choose how we ride out our waiting seasons: Will we sit with our eyes shut, teeth clenched, fists tight on the rail, completely missing out, just whispering, “Tell me when it’s over”? Or will we open our eyes and let the ride take us where it will (where God wills), determined to find joy in the twists and turns, to experience exhilaration in the unknown?
No, it won’t be fun the whole time. It won’t always be peaceful or happy. We’ll have moments when we’ll wish God had buckled us into a different ride. But if we’ll learn to embrace the experience, it will be an adventure. A story—our life story. A life we do not waste. A life we live in the moment, every day—not just in hindsight, when we know how it all turned out. A life we live to the full, without fear: eyes open, heart unguarded, hands raised to heaven.
God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights… You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. –Psalm 18:30–33, 36 NLT
They’re delightful one minute, demonic the next. One moment their mantra is “By Myself”; the next they are the helpless baby again. One of the most important things we have to do for our two-, three-, and four-year-olds is help them develop emotional self-control. They have to learn to handle disappointment, frustration, and delayed gratification—all of the feelings—without flipping out (ahem, screaming, kicking, hitting, falling on the floor in a writhing heap).
Emotional self-control is not something kids achieve after a one-time punishment or conversation, and kids don’t just automatically “grow into it” without guidance—it’s one of those things they only develop with consistent, patient help from us. Which means that we, the parent, must also learn a whole new level of patience and emotional self-control, ha!
How to Handle Temper Tantrums
So if you’ve got a three-year-old in the throes of throwing him- or herself on the floor screaming every time they don’t get their way…keep working on it. Be firm and consistent every time they shout, or flop on the floor, or hit, or stomp their foot—if they realize that tantrums NEVER achieve what they want, over time they’ll give up the tactic. But don’t just discourage tantrums; encourage patience and self-control (encourage them with praise, reward, etc.). Try equipping your child with simple strategies to help them get control of wild feelings (count to ten and breathe; go sit in the other room for a minute and calm down; squeeze your hands together).
But we can’t just deal with them in the crisis moment—if we want to see real growth, we have to take it deeper. In calm moments, talk to them about patience, sharing, being calm, about explaining their feelings in words rather than acting them out, about good and bad ways to deal with big feelings. Teach them, in simple terms, about the deeper, heart-level concepts of patience, not always getting your way, being unselfish and loving, and not being mean to others. Use simple scriptures to reinforce these principles. Preschoolers are smart, and they really do understand when we talk to them about these things—we just have to catch them in the right moment. They often “get it” in their heads, but then we have to help their feelings and self-control mature and catch up. (And watch “Daniel Tiger” together—seriously, that show and its little songs help!)
If we hang in there, our preschool days will be more delightful than demonic, and one day, this crazy emotional roller coaster ride will flatten out…at least until the preteen years…but that’s another post another day.
I recently spoke about helping kids with whining on Facebook Live—you can watch the recording here!
Where is God when life gets hard…and…what to do when kids whine!
This was the view through my windshield the other day as I was waiting in traffic, stuck sitting through many cycles of the same traffic light. I’d been sitting there, frustrated and bored, wishing I was somewhere else—anywhere else—but then I looked up. For the rest of the wait, I sat, awestruck, and watched Him put on a show. If I hadn’t been stuck waiting, I would have missed it—but waiting gave me the opportunity to sit and revel in God’s power and artistry.
Waiting can be a bleak and painful time, but life is still beautiful—God is still doing great things for us—if only we will look up. We may find beauty in relationships, in unexpected kindness, in spiritual growth we didn’t see coming.
When I was waiting for true love, I found greater joy and intimacy in my walk with God, in learning to rely on Him for daily comfort and strength.
I didn’t yet have the things I was praying for, but God gave beautiful gifts along the way, unexpected blessings that eased the pain and lent joy to the journey.
Even now, as I wait on several Big Life Things, God is teaching me perseverance, humility, compassion. Showing me how to find joy in small things. Showing me that beauty is everywhere, even when we are waiting…we only have to look up.
I recently shared this story on Facebook Live, a.k.a. Lizzy Life Live! In the same chat, we talked about practical tips for having heart-to-heart talks with kids at all their different ages and stages. How do we draw quiet kids out? How do we connect on a heart level? How do we bring God into our daily conversations? You can watch the recording here!
Finding beauty in waiting seasons and having heart-to-heart talks with our kids!
This post is expanded from my new Instagram account, @elizabethlaingthompson, where I am posting scriptures, encouragement, and humorous thoughts to help you through your waiting journey. I’d love to see you on Instagram!
My mom has this funny prayer she prays whenever she comes for one of her always-too-short visits: “God, please make this visit feel like a long time.” At first I laughed—my delightful mom has the most faithful prayer life, and she prays about everything—but then I was like, “Oh, why not?”—and I started borrowing her prayer.
But you know what I’ve found? There’s something to Mom’s crazy prayer. Whenever we pray those words, time somehow moves a bit slower. Her visit, however short, feels long enough. Even if we only have hours together—a layover between flights—every minute feels fulfilling. Meaningful. Rich. When she leaves we may cry, but still we feel satisfied, knowing we made the most of what time we had. In the mysterious ways of God, he helps us stop and savor and be fully present in our fleeting, priceless moments together.
Sometimes we want time to slow down . . . but when we’re waiting, we want it to speed up and slow down at the same time. We want the wait to be over now,with no more time lost. We feel this pressure most acutely when we’re in the middle of one of those life-altering waits: The wait for a husband. For a baby. For a healing. Tick, tick goes the clock; flip, flip goes the calendar page—and you’re still stuck.
You feel your twenties passing you by, and you’re still single…
Your fifties are coming to a close, but still your adult child wanders . . .
And if you’re like me—always watching the clock, painfully conscious of life’s brevity—you can start to get paranoid: My life is wasting away. I’ll never get back this time. These are lost years.
But guess what? God is more powerful than time. Listen to this beautiful prayer:
“Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.”
Psalm 90:14–16 (emphasis added)
Do you get what the writer is saying here? He’s asking God to redeem lost time. To make up for lost years—to make Israel glad for as many days, as many years, as they have suffered.
Who wrote this prayer? Moses—Moses who spent forty years wandering in the desert, waiting for the Promised Land. Moses understood the pain of lost life and wasted years better than anyone. And yet he saw that God could still redeem that time, those desert years. In Moses’ eyes, it wasn’t too late. All was not lost. He knew the power of God—God who rained plagues and parted seas, God who appeared in cloud by day and fire by night, God who dwelled on the holy mountain. God could transcend time. God could make up lost years. God could make His people glad, so glad they couldn’t help but sing, for as many years as they had suffered.
We see God do this often in the Bible, showering suffering people with later-life blessings: Joseph. Naomi. Job.
I have seen God do this in my own life more times than I can count. After a tumultuous time in our church life, God provided a way for me and my husband to live in the same town as both our parents—we had never believed it possible, but we got to share eight happy years with both our families. We felt as though God went out of his way to comfort us after a time of trial.
After two years and nine months of infertility, God gave us three babies in…wait for it…two years and ten months. I can hardly see my computer screen for the tears filling my eyes—tears of gratitude, wonder, awe. It’s been eleven years, but still the joy of this blessing staggers me. Even now I ask God, “Why us, when so many others are still waiting?” I can’t answer that question, but I celebrate his gift even as I pray for others still awaiting theirs.
If you’re stuck on pause, mourning a delay, borrow Moses’ prayer. Remind God of the pain you feel watching time pass you by, and ask him to redeem the lost days. Ask him to restore joy. To make you glad for as many days—as many years—as you have suffered. I don’t know when or how God will answer your prayer, but I know he is listening. He is listening, he is concerned, and he is able.