How To Wait Well

It’s 8am. We’re all gathered in the mud room. Snow pants, boots, hats, and gloves fly out of the plastic storage bin, landing in heaps on the ceramic tile floor. We should have been in the car five minutes ago, but my oldest son can’t find one of his gloves. I wait,  anxiously tapping my fingers.

I can feel the tension rising like the first bubbles of boiling water. “Zip up your coat,” I tell my son for the third time. I’m trying my darnedest to be patient, but waiting on two little boys to put on forty thousand pieces of snow gear was not factored into my plans for the morning.

The frustration boils out of me. I know I shouldn’t say anything, but my feelings get the best of me.

Tick-tock! Get those shoes ON. Let’s GO!” I bark.

I instantly regret letting my words fly, reminded that I have lots to learn about patience and waiting.

Waiting is hard. Waiting on small things like little boys gearing up to leave in the mornings is frustrating. But waiting on big things for long seasons? That kind of waiting is excruciating.

Whether we’re waiting for little ones to hurry along, waiting for a miracle, waiting for healing, waiting for a breakthrough, waiting for the pain to end, or waiting for the adventure to begin we all must wait. Most of us hate waiting. But perhaps waiting is the very thing that we need, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a way to wait well. Here are a few things I’m learning about how to wait well.

Wait In Stillness

Waiting well requires waiting in stillness. When we are waiting, we can be tempted to hurry the process along, grab the bull by the horns, do whatever we can to move forward. We don’t like feeling out of control, so we tend to strive anxiously to get past the waiting room.

But what if waiting is really a bold and beautiful invitation to be still with God?

Perhaps we must wait so that we don’t miss God in the miracle. Waiting for God and waiting with God are two different things. Being still gives us an opportunity to learn His heart while we wait for Him to move. We all love God’s miracles; the miracles make us fans. But the waiting in stillness allows us to know Him: His heart, His motives. It’s in the waiting that we build intimacy.

Wait Actively 

Waiting in stillness and waiting actively are two sides of the same coin. Active waiting requires intentionality. Waiting well is not passive. We must actively create margin to be still. We must actively pursue opening our Bibles to let God speak His promises over us. We must actively pray and open our hearts, raw and exposed, to the Lord.

Active waiting means letting God do what only God can do, while we do what we can to cooperate in the process. Many times that simply means showing up to do the very next right thing, whatever that might be: speaking kind words when you want to snap, showing up and working faithfully at your less-than-dream-job, or even seeking counseling or coaching. Waiting is moment-by-moment, and the sum of what we do in those moments determines whether we will reap the rewards of waiting well.

Wait Patiently

I’ve recently been letting Jillian Michaels kick my tail through her Yoga Meltdown workouts–body weight training through power yoga. Jillian coaches users through difficult poses and movements and then closes out each set with having us hold each pose. As I hold each pose, muscles shaking, Jillian continues coaching and talking. I don’t always listen; many times I’m consciously thinking, “Stop talking, Jillian! I’m dying!” (dramatic. I know).

But Jillian knows something about waiting in that uncomfortable, difficult position: the waiting through the pain and discomfort is making me stronger.

The Greek word for patience is “humomone.” It means “to remain under.” Seasons of waiting are seasons of remaining under God’s authority and leadership; remaining under His careful instruction to hold still in the uncomfortable seasons so that we build strength and endurance.

Breathe, my friend. Press into it. You’re getting stronger.

Wait Collectively 

I’m an extrovert that practically uses jazz-hands every time I walk into a room full of people. But when I’m in painful seasons of waiting, my natural tendency is to withdraw from people. If I am not careful to actively press into community when my feelings say to pull back, I can easily be driven into seasons of depression and extreme loneliness.

Pulling away from community when we are waiting for breakthroughs is one of the most detrimental things we can do. God’s spirit resides in His people, and one of the ways He shows us His love, power, and care is through others. When we pull away from everyone, we shut down the ability to receive God’s encouragement, care, and compassion through them.

Wait Expectantly

If we are to wait well, we must wait expectantly; we wait full of hope, expecting God to come through. We wait by the sea, expecting God to do something, even if that sea parting is the last thing we could ever imagine. We can wait expecting God to come through and to lead us. He didn’t bring you this far to leave you in the desert. We do not wait as orphans, but as beloved children under the watchful eye of an all-loving Father.

Your season of waiting will not last forever, however long it may be. Take courage. God is in the waiting.

Give Yourself Grace

I am very impatient. I struggle with processes. I want things done yesterday. I have very little quotescover-JPG-64tolerance for waiting for something to be completed when it is in my power to complete it. When I have moved from one house to another, I stayed up late, got up early, and did not stop working until boxes were unpacked, broken down, and thrown away. I like things to be settled. I like things to be neat, tidy, and completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I’m being refined day by day, but patience in imperfection is a toilsome struggle for me.

You too?

Faith and deep growth don’t work that way. We are accepted by God and called His children apart from our own efforts, good works, and best intentions. But He loves us too much to leave us unchanged. He is the Master Gardner that prunes, cuts back dead and dying (and sometimes healthy) branches of our lives so that we can grow into healthy, complete Christ followers. That process takes our entire lives. I’m grateful that He never gives up on us. He promises to finish what He started. He’s in it for the long-game with us.

Becoming a parent has so greatly affected my perception of God and myself. Parenthood is an amazing earthly shadow of what God’s love for us really is like. It is beautiful to me that my son acts like a little boy, but it’s essential that over time he grows into a man. He’s still new to this life, and it is my job to teach and train him to be a mature, responsible adult.  This is a LONG process with a lot of repetition, a lot of discipline, and a lot of humor required. While he is not perfect, or grown up yet, he is 100% my son. He has access to me, my home, where I am. I provide for him. I love him unconditionally.

We are, in the same way, fully accepted into the Lord’s home as His children once we have authentically placed our faith in Christ. But as a perfect Father, He teaches us, He disciplines us when necessary, He loves us, and ultimately He changes us to be like Him. He reaches deep into the pit of our heart and starts to root out weeds that choke out His spirit from within us so that our work may be increasingly fruitful and abundant, and our hearts and lives more and more healed and set free.

Miles J. Stanford has a fantastic book about Spiritual growth called The Green Letters. In it, Stanford states that, “many [believers] feel they are not making progress unless they are swiftly and constantly forging ahead.” He goes on to quote A.H. Strong: “When God wants to make an oak, He takes an hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months.”  Growth and progress take time.

We are wonderful works in progress. What a liberating opportunity to be set free from our expectations of immediate perfection in ourselves and in others. God is working, shaping, deepening, strengthening, pruning, and creating healthy, fruitful followers. Give yourself the grace to be where you are, and allow the Lord to have His way with shaping you more and more over time.


Run Hard. Love Strong.