On my drive to the office, or anywhere just outside my neighborhood really, I pass several churches. One of the churches has a sign in the side lawn and a different message is written on it each week with those interchangeable plastic letters. I hadn't noticed this week's message before today, though I've passed by it several times. Today it might as well have been written in neon with a sign above it of blinking yellow light bulbs in the outline of an arrow saying "Alison, read this." The church sign said, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma."
Now, let me tell you that that sign could have said, "Alison, do not put a period where I have put a comma." And that's because I spent a long time last night in prayer. I prayed out loud and I had a lot to say and ask and believe and be reminded of. I prayed for her, for him, for them, for me, for guidance. And I rolled it upwards. And this morning in that sign, I received an answer and in my very own language. In the US, the punctuation mark used to end a sentence is a period; but in the UK, that punctuation mark is called a full stop. Makes sense. A comma though, a comma is a pause, a mark of separation between clauses. So, with that in mind, what the sign said to me is "Do not stop where God has placed a pause."
What's my answer? It's not quitting time, no matter how tired I am. I'm battle weary, yes, but that's the time to call upon my real strength, my courage, the bravery my father so often told me to have. I do not know the answers but I am reminded that they sometimes do not come to us all neat and pre-packaged in the form of knowedge or lessons learned. The answers aren't out there in neat bundles awaiting us to find them like Easter Eggs tucked in the grass. We have to live the questions. Day by day, bit by bit. Over time the answers will form and we will find resolution and solution. This is life.
Last night, when talking to my brother on the phone, he said that earlier in the evening he was reminded of, and it felt good to hear, "This too shall pass.” And that's the truth, it will. What I need is this time of pause and reflection, a time to gather my strength and focus. A time of prayer. This is not a time for me to throw my hands up in the air in exasperation, not a time to turn away, and not a time to think of myself. There’s a reason why it’s said that the darkest hour is before the light. It's okay to pause; it's not okay to stop.