In March, we took the kids on their first camping trip. Kory grew up camping with his family, and I began camping when we were in youth ministry years ago, so we know the value of getting outdoors, sharing meals around a campfire, and gazing at the stars together. It’s a tradition we knew we wanted to continue with our own family, and with the kids being 11, 8, and 5, it seemed like the perfect time to start.
Our initial plan was to camp at a state park about two hours south of where we live. It’s the same state park where Kory camped almost every Easter weekend of his childhood, so we invited his parents along for the trip down memory lane.
But in typical Spring-in-Texas fashion, a huge storm system blew into our area, and The Weather Channel predicted record-breaking amounts of rain in that area all week long.
A popup camper.
And three kids.
The opposite of my heaven on earth.
But we are not a people to be deterred.
Four days before our trip, we hunkered down with the storm-tracking radar on one computer, and the Texas State Parks website on the other, and started working on Plan B: Finding a state park outside the storm system.
After several hours of searching, we settled on a park just west of where the storms were supposed to wreak havoc, about 41/2 hours away.
We’d never heard of it. But it wasn’t supposed to rain there.
It looked interesting from the pictures, and even though it was Spring Break, they had a primitive campsite available (no electricity), so we grabbed it and ran.
By the time we got there, others had cancelled their trips out of fear for the weather, so we upgraded to a campsite with electricity, water, and a covered picnic table! Thank goodness, because I’m not sure how the kids would have handled living primitively for three days.
The park was stunning. The weather was amazing. And our campsite was one of the nicest on the grounds.
But one of the best surprises of the trip was that the official Texas buffalo herd grazes there. And when I say “herd,” I mean “herd.” There were buffalo and “the things” they leave behind everywhere.
In the campsites.
At the restrooms.
On the roads.
We were told by the park rangers that they are aggressive. So if we encountered them, we should keep our distance. This meant that when a dozen of them blocked the road we were driving to the hiking trail, we had to put our car in park and wait for them to pass.
Thirty minutes we sat there.
Them staring at us.
Us staring at them.
For the first five minutes, that’s all we did, wondering if they would ever move so we could get on with our adventure.
But when we realized we might be there a while, we decided to make the most of it. We told silly jokes, had some great conversation with the kids, and took some pictures. When we talk about our camping trip now, the “buffalo in the road” are always mentioned as one of the highlights.
I don’t know about where you are, but for me, life is a little like that right now. There are things I think I need to be doing to get on with my next adventure but there are “buffalo” blocking the road.
Ministry is exceptionally stressful and busy right now.
My husband is back in school.
We still have a little one who monopolizes my time.
We are walking through a difficult season with one of our other kids.
And I have a job that is tough to manage, even on a part-time basis.
Under all these pressures, my spirit tends to get restless. Because deep within the center of my soul, I know God has a new thing in store for me. And yet, despite the adventure I know is lurking around the corner, I hear God’s quiet voice telling me to “stop.” To “be still.” To “take a deep breath.” And to “wait.”
Waiting is not easy. Particularly if we find ourselves in a season of life that brings us extra challenges we wish would pass. But there are also many gifts in the waiting.
I know this from experience.
Waiting is teaching me a thing or two about contentment. Because, honestly, there’s a thing or two about my life that I’m not happy at all about. They just “are,” and there’s nothing I can do to change them. So I can either make peace with them, or I can allow them to torment me indefinitely.
I’m trying to choose peace, but it’s not easy. It’s an area where I need growth.
Waiting is also teaching me the importance of dealing with my feelings. Feelings that are now simply intolerable. I’m doing all that fun in therapy. And each session, I dig a little deeper into my feelings with the hope of getting to their root.
If I was off on my next adventure, I think I might just sweep my feelings under the rug, only to have them come out and haunt me at a later time.
Waiting is teaching me that relationship is where “it’s” at. Because as difficult as things are in my life right now, God has blessed me with some amazing friends. And time with friends has a way of transcending our circumstances. So instead of adventuring right now, which would steal time away from friends, I’m learning to be with my friends instead.
And waiting is teaching me to relish the small things.
A project around the house.
A good book.
A Saturday sleep-in.
A yoga session.
Family dinner on the back porch.
A good conversation with my husband.
My morning coffee against the backdrop of a spring thunderstorm.
A snuggle with one of the kids.
All the small things that are life-giving to me each day. In seasons of adventuring, I forget to do a lot of these things, so I’m making the most with them while I wait.
I don’t know where you are. And I don’t know how you feel. I can only speak to my own experience.
Waiting for the buffalo to pass is not an easy thing. I’m struggling through it right now.
But when I take the time to breath.
When I choose the right perspective.
When I live in the moment instead of five stones down the path.
That’s when this waiting thing is tolerable. That’s when I see God working in my life. And that’s when I see the buffalo in the road as a gift just for me and just for this time.
I’m also beginning to realize this. The adventure waiting around the corner for me is probably not going to look at all like what I’ve conjured up in my head. And that’s because God has done a mighty work in me during this season of waiting. I’ve seen things I’ve never seen, and I’ve done things I’ve never done, all while I sit back and wait. And I think it’s those very things that are laying the groundwork for the good thing God has in store for me around the bend.
I think that could be true for you too.