Wrestling with waiting is a problem for me. But not in the way you might think. It’s not that I don’t like waiting. It’s that I may be just a little too good at it.
It started naturally enough. When I was young, I would wait to see what my friends wanted to do before I made plans for a Saturday night. Or I would wait to see what kind of dresses they would be wearing to a dance before I shopped for mine.
My waiting continued into marriage and motherhood. When feeling hungry, I would wait until everyone else was hungry before I ate. If I felt restless, I would wait until everyone else needed to get outside before I went for a walk or took the kids to the park. And when I grew tired, I would wait until everyone else was ready for bed before I headed there myself.
Sometimes waiting is necessary, of course, particularly when raising a family or navigating the finer points of being a team player or part of a healthy community.
And in many instances, the ability to patiently wait serves me well. Like when I was recently stranded in the Dallas Fort Worth airport for 24 hours after missing a connecting flight home.
Unlike some of the other passengers who responded badly to the news that they would be spending the night in Dallas (think raised voices, profanity, even some tears), I calmly waited in line at 11pm to learn that there were no flights available until the following night.
I took the news like a champ. First, I found an airport courtesy phone and arranged for a hotel shuttle. Upon my arrival, I accepted an emergency toothbrush wrapped in plastic, a tiny tube of toothpaste, and miniature deodorant. Then I forked over an exorbitant amount of money to sleep in my clothes in a room I was forced to surrender less than 10 hours later.
The next day I passed the time reading emails, a novel, Facebook, and Instagram. I talked on my phone, played games on my phone, listened to podcasts on my phone, and paid my taxes via the internet on my phone. When it was finally time to return to the terminal, I learned my new flight was delayed by two hours. So I ate cinnamon pretzel bites, found a spot to recharge my phone, and am happy to say that I eventually made it back to San Diego with my sanity intact. How, you might ask? By using my well-developed waiting skills and thanking God for the gift of patience that He has grown in me.
Waiting well can be a good thing – especially when things are beyond our control.
Having patience is a biblical thing, right? After all, it’s one of the fruits of the Spirit we read about in Galatians 5:22. So how can learning to be good at waiting potentially become a problem?
Because sometimes I can get so comfortable in my waiting that I don’t want to move when the wait is over. I grow accustomed to the way things are while I wait. Or I grow complacent and stop thinking about what needs to change. I might see the effort it will take to stop waiting and start moving and feel too tired or discouraged or distracted. So I stay put.
What are you waiting for?
I was recently asked about a project I’ve been talking about working on for a while now: “What are you waiting for?” And I didn’t have a good answer. The question has rattled around in my brain for days, “What am I waiting for?” I just turned 57. My kids are grown and for the most part launched into adulthood. There is nothing standing between this project and me any longer. So my wait is over. It’s time to begin. And I’m a little bit scared.
Talking and dreaming about doing something new is easy for me. Actually taking the plunge, committing to the hard work and investing the time and energy that will be necessary to make my dream a reality, is proving to be a bit intimidating. I’ve grown comfortable with waiting. I like knowing that as I wait patiently for the Lord, he listens and cares for me, giving me guidance and comfort. It’s cozy here while I wait with him. And while the project stays in the planning stage, failure doesn’t seem like an option. So I’m tempted to keep waiting.
But here’s the thing…God calls us to action.
Just as God is near us while we wait, He is also with us when it’s time to get going. So I’m saying, “Yes! I’m ready for what’s next.” No more waiting when the wait should be over. I’m inviting God in to do what he must to get me unstuck. And I’m looking forward to celebrating what he will do in a heart that’s willing to move beyond waiting.
How about you? Is God calling you to action in an area where you’ve grown comfortable waiting? And here comes the question you know I have to ask: What are you waiting for?