This summer, I’ve introduced my teen daughters to the incomparable and unfortunately unrealistic world of Jane Austen. She’s one of my all-time favorite authors. With characters like sassy Elizabeth Bennett and confident Emma Woodhouse, Austen makes us believe romance is not just possible but nearly inevitable if we are only clever enough to snag a good one.
Even though we’ve been watching beautifully made mini-series and movie versions of her novels, the stories and language are from the early 1800’s and can be a bit confusing. The restrictions of class and culture and the flowery phrases often require a little explanation. So when my daughter continually asks questions like, “Who’s that?” and “Why is he angry?” and “Is she going to marry him?” over the hour or so it takes to complete an episode, I slowly unravel.
Although I will pause the scene if I think the plotline has hit a confusing twist, my basic response is “just watch.” I may say that phrase a dozen times in the space of an hour. I want her to uncover the story as it was designed to be uncovered. I’m sure Austen was very particular about the order of events and how much she wanted to divulge the back story of her characters to her readers at key points. And who am I to mess with Jane Austen’s plan?
My plea for my daughter to “just watch” mostly doesn’t deter her from continuing to ask what’s going to happen next. But, as someone who knows exactly how the story will end (Mr. Darcy will come around and fall for Elizabeth! I promise!), I can confidently tell her to wait on the story to unfold.
As I wait to see how our family’s story will unfold—specifically if we’ll ever be permitted to bring home our son we’ve adopted from Africa—I hear God telling me to “just watch.” It’s supremely frustrating and not the answer I’m looking for. I want to hear guarantees. I want promises that the closing credits will roll past a scene showing a family of six holding hands with smiles all around.
I’ve grown to hate the sentence: “God’s timing is perfect.” When well-meaning friends say those four words to me, I want to punch them in the throat. Of course, I don’t resort to violence in those moments for a variety of reasons. One of which is because I know they’re right but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I don’t like hearing my pain reduced to the equivalent of the inside of a greeting card. Often, those words are said as if my frustrations reveal a character flaw. It’s as if they know it will all turn just the way we want. But the end is just as ambiguous to them as it is to me.
Still, my reality is that I must “just watch.” I must wait and see what will be revealed because I don’t know how this will end. Fortunately, I can sit with God—the one who does know the ending—and let Him guide me through the unfolding.