Nicole Caldwell-Gross and I went to seminary together, where we met in a theatrical production of Stephen Vincent Benét’s John Brown’s Body, a welcome respite from the academic rigor of seminary.
She’s now doing even more amazing things for God’s kingdom as Director for Mission and Community Development in The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey, and I’m so honored to have her wise, thoughtful voice as part of this devotional project!
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The Divine Waiting Room
by Nicole Caldwell-Gross
They don’t tell you this but, I will. It’s not your body, your work-life balance or your date-nights with your partner. No, it’s privacy.
It’s the one thing that becoming a mother will take away from you, the one thing you will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER get back! Seriously: NEVER!
Once you become a parent, you can kiss solitude, meditative reflection on your own and sheer physical space goodbye. Your children will lie horizontally spread out in your bed while assaulting you repeatedly and getting the best sleep of their lives.
Your child or multiple children will sit on your lap in a room while several couches and chairs sit in the same room, empty and available.
Your children will follow you from room to room, not allowing you to even attempt the simplest household duties without their perpetual presence.
And best of all: you will never use the bathroom without the interruption or even inclusion from your child again.
They don’t tell you this in birthing classes or during pre-natal care but really: privacy is the first thing you lose.
And really, it begins before the baby even comes. There will be approximately 68 people in the room when you have the baby and nobody will care about your privacy.
Because of this, I decided that when I had my last baby, I was going to experience some privacy. I scheduled my C-section so early in the morning that there were barely any cars on the road or people in the hospital. My other two space invaders (children) were being watched by my mother and our delivery room was empty upon our arrival.
I smiled from ear-to ear, and then it happened: The nurse who walked into the door exclaimed, “Good morning, Pastor! Good morning, Nicole!” Just my luck, our attending nurse was a woman named Minnie, a member of my church! I shook my head, realizing that no matter what I planned or plotted I would never, ever have any privacy.
I imagine that these thoughts crossed Elizabeth’s mind too. When we find her in the first chapter of Luke, she’s in the midst of a self-imposed seclusion. She’s hidden herself away after learning from an angel that, despite barrenness and an AARP membership years in the making, she and her husband would be having a baby. When she heard the news she wanted some privacy and for five months she remained alone in her home, waiting.
Elizabeth is like so many of us when we’re waiting on something from God. Whether it’s a baby to be born, a diagnosis to be confirmed or a prayer to be answered, we’re uncomfortable having other people in our spiritual waiting rooms. Because the truth is, we don’t like the way we “look” when we’re waiting. We don’t want other people to see us when we’re desperately trying to figure out if after all of this is said and done, will God do what God promised? We don’t want other people to hear us praising God one day and doubting God the next. We, like Elizabeth, want to close the door and witness the miracle in private where our vulnerability won’t be public.
And while that may be how we work, that’s never how God works. God doesn’t do miracles for our private benefit; God does miracles for public blessing.
And so, just when her third trimester began, Elizabeth had an uninvited guest. Her little cousin Mary came knocking on her door, bursting into her privacy, hoping they could wait on God together.
Elizabeth had a choice just like I did. Like we all do. She could invite Mary into her waiting. She could risk her own vulnerability and together they could witness God’s miracles or she could continue going it alone. While I’m no Elizabeth, here’s what I know for sure: It’s better together. When we invite other people into our divine waiting rooms we invite blessings we didn’t know we needed.
Elizabeth didn’t know she needed Mary. She was the daughter of priests, married to a priest, carrying the harbinger of the Son of God, but none of that had connected her to the Holy Spirit in the way Mary did. It was only in waiting with Mary that she received what she didn’t know she was even looking for.
As I prepared to welcome my third baby, I needed Minnie. I didn’t know she was a supervising nurse and because of her presence and position I would be treated like a queen for every moment of my stay. But God knew.
And so in this season of waiting I challenge you to risk to look for the witness: Who is God calling you to wait with? Who is God calling you to invite into your divine waiting room?
For when you do you WILL lose your privacy (forever) but you’ll find blessings you didn’t know you were looking for.
Rev. Nicole Caldwell-Gross is a woman on fire for Christ. A gifted storyteller of the Gospel, Nicole is an ordained minister, sought after preacher, writer, conference facilitator, coach and millennial ministry thought leader. She resides in New Jersey with her partner in marriage and ministry: Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross. They are outnumbered by their three children: Joshua Alexander, Olivia Grace and Isabella Joy.