I want what I want, when I want it, NOW. No, yesterday. As my grandma always sang to me as a child, “There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid.” When my parents refused to buy me a pink Power Ranger doll in the store, I literally lost it in the middle of the toy aisle. I remember that snot and that feeling that I’ve always described as my blood boiling, feeling completely helpless about where to unload my disappointment.
Now, yes, in many ways I have outgrown this temper tantrum phase. (Praise God.) But in so many ways, I haven’t. Waiting has been the theme of my 20s with moments of excruciating pain as I watch others step into life stages that I deeply desire, ones that only exist as whispers to God on the pages of my journal.
And just when we think it can’t get any worse than being forgotten, again, we can read between the lines of a few agonizing words in the kick-off of Genesis 41: “When two full years had passed…”
Have you ever had a day when you’re waiting for something and two minutes feels like an eternity? Been there. The passing of time can ease our pain, in a weird way, but sometimes we end up forgetting what we’re even waiting for, losing hope in a promising future. With Joseph, it appears that he serves where he is and maintains his faith that God will one day lift him out of the pit.
Then we get to Joseph’s big moment: Pharaoh sends for Joseph and we read that he was quickly brought from the dungeon. (Bout time.)
This might sound ridiculous, but one of my favorite parts of this chapter is the verse that comes after: “When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.”
I know the power of a shower and fresh clothes. When I went on a mission trip to Poland, we had an epic journey back home which included our last day spent in Auschwitz in one million degree summer heat where I felt like the concentration camp had just closed down the day before. Everything felt so oddly preserved, a stench and dust that felt unbearably heavy. We immediately boarded a bus to “sleep” at a camp for about two hours before getting to the airport. Long story short, I remember paying at least $50 for a shower during our layover in Amsterdam. And it was the most incredible shower I’ve had in my life.
These details about Joseph shaving and changing his clothes feel so important to the story of his liberation from the pit. This is it, the moment he’s been waiting for. I feel so clean and free along with Joseph, like we’ve both endured the wait for a refresh together after trudging through darkness.
This week on the Dig Deep Podcast, Peggy pointed out that when Pharaoh calls on Joseph to interpret his dreams, Joseph could have negotiated with him. He had years to dream up what he would say: “Sure, I’ll help you out IF you punish so-and-so who are the reason I’ve spent years in prison.”
But. He. Doesn’t.
His response has nothing to do with him and his selfish desires, and everything to do with God and how he’ll take care of it all. As Peggy said, Joseph doesn’t insert himself into the solution, and his posture was seen as extraordinary to others around him.
So to those of us who are still waiting for whatever vision of beauty you’re dreaming of, whatever pit you’re stuck in…
All I know is this: I know the pain you’re feeling. And it’s valid. I know the kicking and screaming you want to do (and might actually be doing). Some things happen in a second, while others take a decade or more. Maybe forever a mystery to you and me.
But we’re bigger and stronger than our Power Ranger days. That anger? That temper tantrum you feel like throwing? Choose instead a confidence, rooted in your identity as a child of God. It’s a humbling posture, indeed, to know that your chance for a shower, a clean shave, a fresh pair of clothes will come apart from your own strength. And at a time that you don’t get to hand select from some aisle of dreams.