Bookstores are one of my favorite places on earth. Every Friday as a child we would hop into our Buick LeSabre and head over to the mall bookstore. Each week I got to pick out a new book, which typically would be a Baby Sitters Club book of some sort. In 1st grade it was the Little Sister version, of which I would burn through by the end of the night and then would have to patiently wait until the next week to get a new one. As I got older I graduated to the reading less about Karen, Nancy and Hannah and more about Kristy, Claudia and Stacey. I remember just walking the aisles, touching the pretty book bindings and crisp pages, always selecting my book from the back of the shelf, as it was likely more untouched than the others. I remember always asking for a new bookmark too, but being that I already had too many, the request typically got denied. (My go to bookmark was a Little Mermaid one in case you were wondering).
Anyways, I find bookstores to be a place of comfort now. I don’t know if it’s due to the years of hanging out among the shelves or sitting at Borders for hours on end on a Saturday, but regardless, I am convinced healing happens at bookstores. Even now, I typically will ask Josh at least a few times a month if he will just go sit at Barnes and Nobles with me. (Side note: I miss Borders, like a lot.) As I type this now, here I sit, among the cluttered tables of the café, awkwardly staring at the lady across from me on her iPad as she eats a scone. (Hey lady, you have some on your chin.) I am home. I wear headphones but have the Coffee Shop Pandora mix on low enough to still hear the conversations around me. (Airlines are so overpriced …. Hey mom, can I get this book …. What time is it? Oh wait, he is asking me that, one second….)
Books are an escape for me. I throw myself into the story, often judging a book by its cover. (I have an entire shelf of ugly covered books that I have yet to read.) One relatable line is like a balm to the day. There is beauty in the stories, even if they aren’t real. (Who am I kidding, I totally pretend like they are.)
The past month or so I have been praying for God to send me a sign, a tangible sign, that this whole journey will result in a happy ending. That this road will lead somewhere and that we will be one of those couples who looks back in 5 years and tells other couples “It is worth the wait. Hang in there.”
So I keep praying. Lord, a sign! One that even I can’t refute. Preferably one so obvious that I can’t question it. A message written in the sky would be acceptable. An anonymous letter posted marked from Heaven would also be okay. Okay maybe that all is a little extreme, but I just keep begging (literally, you should see my journal, it’s nearly embarrassing) that He would make Himself known without a shadow of a doubt.
Perhaps the sign has come. Perhaps He has answered my prayer and I have been too jaded to see it. There have been moments of quiet and brief reassurance over the last month, including a 41 day cycle for me, another first and shorter than my last one by 22 days. Many would say this was THE SIGN! A tangible response that things were improving, that the lifestyle changes and naturopathic doctor was working, but instead, I dismissed it as less powerful than it actually was.
And since enough isn’t enough, I found myself continuing to pray A sign! Lord, I need more signs! More signs! I need you to help me believe!
And then I came to this verse, in the greatest book of all times, the Bible. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe.” (John 20:29b) It was the sign I had been searching for – the anti sign! The sign where He whispered to STOP LOOKING FOR A SIGN and keep looking at HIM! I had taken my eyes off of HIM and began searching upon Pinterest boards, interactions and puffs of cloud smoke for a sign and in it, lost my way.
Books are powerful. One verse, one line, changed my heart again. The power of His Word is greater than anything else. This journey isn’t about looking for signs but looking to Him. It’s about believing in His character, His goodness, His promises without knowing the future. That’s where the blessings lie. In fact, the whole story of the Bible is filled with people who believed without seeing and still moved forward out of an act of faith. It’s human to want to see what’s going to happen before we move, but we are only holding ourselves back from what He has to offer.
So, in the presence of my dear friends, the books, I pledge to stop obsessively asking for signs. I pledge to have faith without knowing how this story ends. I pledge to embrace the pain, the struggles, the unknowns and never give up. With His help, I can do this!
Oh my goodness, this woman a few tables down just stood up to leave and her purse strap caught under the table and she just flipped it. I can’t stop laughing. My blog concentration has officially just been broken. And I am pretty sure this guy is about to ask out the girl next to me. One more hair flip from her and it’s inevitable. Ahhhh, bookstore dramas ….
(Update: She casually threw into a story that she never wants to get married and isn’t like her friends, who wants a real relationship. This conversation is winding down quickly ….)