Purpose in Waiting

by Mary Lynn Derstine

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"So what do I do now?" I said to myself as I thought about the months stretched before me. I had just returned from Iraq and life in the states looked hard. There would be nine months of my life to live before I returned to land where I had felt purpose and fulfillment. Nine months of reading books and training to prepare me for my return. But what is a person supposed to do with nine months of waiting, of expectation for something?

I didn't want to be the person constantly talking about the important things I wanted to be doing. I wanted the ability to be present in whatever part of life I was in. I wanted to feel fulfilled each day, even if I was waiting for something "better".

Even as I wanted that desperately, it was hard.  I missed the friends I had made in Iraq, and working at a bulk food store seemed insignificant. I knew by the time I returned to Iraq so much would have changed, including my relationships with the people there. Waiting to go back scared me, but I knew it was essential.

I wasn't sure how, but I was determined to live purposefully in the waiting time. I couldn't be too extreme, I needed to make money. I decided to search for the answer to my questions, to see what God had to say.

One day I came across these verses, "And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." (Luke 11:9-10 ESV)

These verses amazed me as I read them again and again. In the middle of the agony of waiting, I realized all I needed to do was to ask. God was willing to fill my life with purpose if I just asked Him.

So I did.

 The agony turned to amazing and the waiting turned to fulfillment. It wasn't a shocking sort of events. It wasn't anything extreme. I still worked to support myself. The changes were mostly small; a coffee date with someone I knew was lonely, a favor for a busy mother, and a text of encouragement to a friend.

Some of them were out of my comfort zone; visiting someone I barely knew, moving across the country, and sharing my story on my blog.

Being others-focused helped me forget about the period of waiting. Keeping my mind busy with thoughts and prayers for others helped me to not spend time pitying myself. Looking for purpose kept me thankful.

Now I leave for Iraq tomorrow, and it surprises me how hard it has been to say goodbye. I found purpose while waiting and now that the wait is over, I can say I did feel fulfilled. I found purpose in daily choosing to find someone to reach out to. I learned you don't always have to be extreme to make a difference, all it can take is one step, one request to God. God took my request and He gave me what I wanted. Waiting wasn't so bad after all.


Hi, I'm Mary Lynn Derstine, and I'm now living in Kurdistan, Iraq, helping young Yazidi girls who had been captured by ISIS. I enjoy writing and trying new things. You can read my blog at https://marylynnderstine.wordpress.com.


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