Waiting blows. It is so hard to do. You know this. This post is mostly for me.
Here are reminders of what not to do and what to do while waiting…
1. Don’t look to whatever you are waiting for as your worth.
Whatever the outcome or answer you are waiting for, it is not really a measurement of your worth. Sometimes we are waiting for something to give us an identity and a value. A job, a house, a child, a prognosis. Don’t let it. These things are not who we are. Our labels and titles do not define us. Resist the temptation to feel that you are less valuable and have nothing to contribute while you wait.
2. Don’t see what you wait for as the answer to all your problems.
God’s promises are not for a better job, a better house or car, more money, a bigger family, a healthier body, a non-damaging storm, a fairer weather pattern. The danger is to look at the things that we wait for in life in place of the promises He has already given us. These things we want the answers to are temporal. His promises for us are eternal. Our promise is He will never leave us. Our promise is life eternal. Our promise is love incomprehensible. Our promise is grace greater than our sin. We don’t have to wait for any of these. They are ours now and always. Focusing on these gifts requires no patience.
3. Don’t wait like a couch potato.
Waiting is like exercise. It doesn’t always feel great during, and you sometimes want to die, but the effort strengthens us. It makes us stretch and push ourselves to the limit, and then feel we have no strength left. The reality is we didn’t have strength to begin with. We are always using Someone else’s strength. We aren’t borrowing it. It’s ours to keep because we’ll always need it. When we acknowledge this, we have strength to face anything.
The time we wait makes us address our modus operandi, the ways in which we distract ourselves or the attitudes we adopt. While I am the first to admit I have all kinds of guilty pleasures, like TV shows I binge-watch. Just the fact that there is a term “binge watch” proves that we are all made up of similar stuff. We love to entertain ourselves.We love to distract ourselves from the harsh realities of our lives, the real emotion and pain we would feel otherwise. If we take a long look at our hearts instead of focusing on lesser things, what would we find there? What would we learn about ourselves?
Is it joyful contemplation? Bitter resentment? Do we bury our grief or pain? Do we hide from others and enriching relationships because of our anxiety mask? Do we give in to the temptations to indulge in either excess or abstinence, either being harmful in their own ways? When we are waiting, are we standing still or do we need to constantly move and achieve? Are you sulking? All these questions and so many more make us take a look at our hearts as we wait. Does my heart need changing before my circumstances do, or even if my circumstance never changes, will I grow?
4. Resist the temptation to dwell on the past.
It’s strange how we take stock of our lives sometimes. It’s easy to get sucked into a pity party when you are waiting for the next big thing. If we are looking to that thing for our worth and identity, it’s usually because something happened before now that took those things away from us. And there are few things worse than having a lot of time on your hands to think. It’s why we do distract ourselves with lesser things in the first place. We don’t want to think about it. But when we do give in to the introspection, we often shift between the two roads of blaming ourselves and blaming everyone else. I find myself reliving old and not-so-old sinful behaviors, things I’ve done that hurt others or betray trusts. If only I had made different choices. If only I hadn’t said that or maybe I should have gone that other way. Then I wouldn’t be where I am now, waiting.
I am often reminded that God isn’t thrown off by our choices. He doesn’t have to recalibrate like a GPS because we lost our way. It isn’t like He forgot to factor in us when He planned us. His plans aren’t thwarted. While looking through the past can be destructive if you dwell on YOU, revisiting your life’s twists and turns to search for GOD, for His grace and mercy in it, can be a great use of time while waiting. Several times throughout the stories of the bible, God tells His people to remember. Sometimes to build monuments for the sole purpose of remembering what He has done for them. Maybe you need an Ebenezer to raise.
5. Remind yourself of truth.
Be reminded that God is most glorified when we find our satisfaction in Him. It’s easy when waiting to spend all our thought energies in visualizing what can happen, playing out scenarios in our heads – a positive result and the happiness it would bring, or negative outcome and the stress and emotional turmoil. All our energy is spent on trying to predict the future, meanwhile the present is slipping by. Keeping an eye on the future is good. Thinking about how you will serve and lead others well is good. But worrying and being discontent in the present misses out on the joy that is found in being content and satisfied right here, right now.
I’m also reminded of the truth that Jesus knows our every worry, pain and sorrow. Not only does he know what we’re feeling, he knows firsthand what it feels like. I’m reminded of his humanness, his frailty, his suffering. I’m reminded of what he went through for me, the cross of course, but also the agony of life. He went through all the pains and sorrows of this life, willingly. He set aside his crown and rightful place of power, to become one of us, to walk on weary feet, to thirst, to hunger, to mourn, to tire, to face loneliness. He waited, oh how he waits still, for that final day. He won the victory already, but He waits to claim the prize, to make all things new, to be fully one with His bride and revel in all His glory – the glory He conceals even now, waiting for its ultimate triumph. We’re waiting, longing, for that day. All other waits pale in comparison. I look to that wait, that glorious hope, and everything else I’m wrestling through falls into place. “None who wait for you shall be put to shame.”
So we wait still. And I put aside my timeline and sense of urgency. I put aside my pride and take up my cross. Not in some deranged martyr like way, beating my chest and wearing a black doily on my head. I wait with an open heart, ready for the work to be done, but still finding rest and hope the only place it never runs out.