a time to be on the sidelines

Ever since I came back from SFC ICON in February I feel like I’ve been warming the bench that is life, sitting on the sidelines, waiting for my chance to play the game. No one told me how difficult it would really be to get that call to work as a Casual Primary School Teacher. But I did get the same advice from all my teacher friends who said “Enjoy all this free time now, because you won’t get it any other time”.

I tried to take this to heart but it was difficult. So difficult in fact that it led me to a week of tribulation, where I felt so lost, sad, insecure, angry and worst of all, so far away from my Creator. That week was definitely testing and despite my friends trying to reach out to me, I tried to get through it on my own. But because of His unconditional love, my own pride and stubbornness led me to a moment of clarity and peace. It’s crazy how God works with you that way.

That Sunday, after attending Mass with my best friend and her fiancé, I selfishly decided to join them in one of their snorkelling adventures. This was a selfish act because that day I said no to my family obligations and responsibilities. I just needed a break. So, we drove around one hour south of Campbelltown to this beautiful open water, perfect for summer swims. I’m not a strong swimmer so I decided not to join them and opted for sitting by the water instead. As I sat down, I realised I didn’t bring earphones to listen to music or watch Netflix. I tried to browse through my social media apps and found out that there was no signal/reception. And of course, I didn’t bring a book to read. Finally, I look up and I see this view.

“The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures He makes me lie down; to still waters He leads me; He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3

At this moment I recalled a message that a dear friend of mine had shared with me earlier that week – “Are you paying attention?” …Was I? He drew me out to this place, and stripped me off my distractions. I was all alone, but for the first time in that emotionally and mentally trialling week, I felt comfortable in this loneliness because I felt Him all around me. After a few minutes of silence, I asked Him, “Why? Why have you put me on the sidelines? Why are you benching me? I want this so bad but I feel like you don’t want it for me. When will it be my turn?” As tears rolled down my face, I opened my eyes and suddenly the tide rolls in. A big wave crashes onto the rocks just inches away from my feet. I couldn’t help but feel that this was God telling that it’s coming. And sure enough, three days later, I got that call.

That was two weekends ago, and since then I’ve been once again put on the sidelines, and this time with my health. But someone wise once told me that, “We are a product of our own experiences, good and bad.” So right now, I’m trying to be patient. God is asking me to be patient.

In hindsight, there’s a lot you can learn from being on the sidelines. You realise how valuable your team members are. You learn things about the game that you don’t learn while playing it. You get to rest and recharge, which is so important. And you receive the one gift that you can never return – time.

So if you find yourself warming that bench that is life, maybe He’s trying to tell you something. The question is – are you paying attention?

“God speaks in the silence of the heart, and we listen.
And then we speak to God from the fullness of our heart.
First we listen, and God speaks. And then we speak, and God listens.
And that connection is prayer, is oneness with God.”
– Mother Teresa

Benchwarming, – M.