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.
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.
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.
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.
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.