There is something incredibly satisfying to me about numbers and facts. Despite the fact that I have a pretty typical hardcore creative personality (and I wasn’t exactly the shining star of my high school math classes), I love logistics. Loooooove.
With that being said, I think it’s pretty obvious that in this social media, technologically-driven world we live in, a lot of information is thrown at us every single day. To be precise, a study taken in 2009 from the University of California-San Diego reported that the average American takes in “34GB of data and 100,000 words of information per day.”
Just to clarify, that is A LOT of information (and the only statistic you’ll read in this post, I promise).
Just a few days ago, it occurred to me that, for years, I’ve acknowledged Cinco de Mayo as a holiday without actually being aware of exactly what it celebrates. So, I did what every other 19- year-old would do—I instantly typed my question into Google; instantly getting my answer. It was then that my grandmother kindly reminded me that “in her day” she would have had to go to the library and look in an encyclopedia to find the information she was seeking. She would’ve had to take action to find what she was looking for.
And just like that, I was taken back to the wise words of my incredibly brilliant high school choir director and mentor — “There is incomparable value in delayed gratification.” When her students would struggle to learn harmony parts or hit notes on pitch, she would always remind us exactly why we spent time practicing and working hard to sing accurately and skillfully. The gratification wasn’t necessarily found in the hours spent rehearsing but found in the moment that the hours paid off — when the student nails the harmony and hits the note. Yet, the strength and determination were actually built during the time spent failing and then deciding to get up and try again.
Somehow, despite the millions of words and pieces of advice that I’ve taken in over the past few years, her words have always had a way of sticking with me.
“There is incomparable value in delayed gratification.”
In an age of press and go, there is unrivaled worth in the areas of life that aren’t so “immediate.”
I tend to put an unrealistic amount of expectation and pressure on myself. If I’m being honest, I’m quick to fall into the dangerous idea trap of “overnight success.” Whether it’s success surrounding my career, my relationships, my health, or my spiritual life, I crave immediate results. I crave the instant gratification of clicking the search button and finding what I’m looking for right in that very moment. However, when I’m navigating life with this mindset, my patience seems to go right out the window, and time becomes my biggest enemy. The “waiting” for my desires and goals becomes absolutely unbearable.
More so than that, the pressure to immediately succeed tends to make me resent the fact that I don’t already have the success I’m wanting, that I don’t already have every aspect of my career, relationship, health, or spiritual life figured out (Spoiler Alert: no one does). I fall victim to insecurity and shame, so obsessed with my own timeline that I forget that a better one is already very much in action, even in the moments when I can’t see it at all.
Aha! That’s where faith comes in — trusting that God has the timeline of your life in His hands, trusting that God’s timeline for you is greater than what your wildest dreams could ever conjure up. And to tell you the truth, actively living out that trust is not always an easy thing for me. Being as type-A as I am, I love having control and answers (see the first few sentences of this post).
That being said, when I pray, I sometimes get in the mindset of thinking that the only two possible answers from God are a “yes” or “no.” In a rush to press the gas pedal and get to that next milestone or goal, I convince myself that I’m either going to get a green light, checking off another box to get where I want to be, or stuck at yet another red light.
But here’s a thought: What if God is saying “Not yet” instead of no?
What if God is saying, “Slow down. Look out the window! There is something for you right here in this very moment.”
God is so much more than a distant authority granting us a variety of “yeses” and “noes.”
God is a relational God. He knows our hearts better than we ever could and has plans to give us a hope and future — even when we can’t see it.
In a conversation with my pastor a few weeks ago, he reminded me that God has a brilliant way of preparing us for what He has prepared for us. Looking back, I can see how the moments I’ve spent in waiting for the next “big thing” have been some of the most pivotal moments of my life so far. Those seemingly dreaded pauses, stop signs, and delays served as the moments when I’ve been forced to dig deeper, seeking God in ways that I never had before.
That month when I would sit alone in my room, more isolated and misunderstood than ever before. That year when I was convinced I could never be a good enough writer or singer to succeed in the music business. Those moments when I’ve told myself that I would never be beautiful enough to be worthy of love. My hardest times have pushed my faith and continue to teach me what it means to trust and rely on God’s control. Those moments have prepared me for what’s next, helping me find the strength that it takes to move forward with grace and confidence.
And I believe that now, even in the waiting, God is telling me to slow down and look out the window. In a world that is so instant, the real beauty is hidden within the journey. Strength is found one step at a time. Faith is chosen during the bumps in the road.
It’s okay to be a work in progress. It’s okay to still be “figuring it out” (another Spoiler Alert: we all are).
Among the 100,000 words of information you’ll receive today, I hope you remember and remind yourself that God has placed value in this very moment of your life, no matter how significant or insignificant the moment might seem to you. God has something prepared for you, and even though the season of preparing can be difficult, it is not in vain. You’re only going to be better and stronger because of it.
So, I encourage you to enjoy the pauses. Soak them up. Look out the window. Search for something new. Find the beauty. Grow in strength.
God has something extraordinary prepared for you.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Riley Clemmons is a 19-year-old, Nashville-based singer, songwriter signed to Capitol CMG whose sound is pop with spiritual depth. The Nashville native began writing at the age of 13 while maintaining the full-time demands of being a student. Fast forward five years, you find a seasoned songstress who has collaborated with some of the most talked about writers on Music Row like Emily Weisband, Josh Kerr and more. 2018 marked the debut of her full-length, self-titled album. “Fighting For Me” is her latest single.
Follow Riley on Instagram @rileyclemmons