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.


Silly Putty And The Power of God

Did you ever play with Silly Putty when you were younger? The pinkish-beige putty that came in a red egg-shaped container? I always had high hopes that it would be like Play-Doh…soft, malleable. But Silly Putty is the black sheep of the putty family, and really no fun to mold at all. The most fun I had with Silly Putty was pressing it against the comic strips of newspapers to see it reprint on the the thick gummy goo.

The last month or so I have felt like most everything has been hard. It’s been a season of one-thing-after-another problems, stresses, and disappointments. I’ve felt like I’ve been trying to push forward, but I find myself tangled up in circumstantial Silly Putty.

Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re right there with me now. Solidarity, sister (or brother, as it may be).

I’ve been trying to process it all. My head feels like it’s spinning from some of the issues that have come up, some relational, some financial, some small but weighty in light of all of the other mess.

It’s those moments of loss, heartache, and disappointment that we are faced with the choice to hold onto what we believed when things were going well, or to forfeit belief and attempt to “go it alone.” It’s the hard seasons that make the difference in who we become as people of faith.

Do we really believe that God is good when life is hard?

Do we really believe that God is our rock and refuge when everything else falls apart?

Do we really believe that He is with us, that He hears us, that He has our best interest at heart?

Habakkuk reached this place. As his nation faced impending invasion and tremendous loss He had a choice to get angry with God, or cry out to Him. He chose the latter when he declared:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk 3:17

This morning I wrote my own little version. It went something like this:

“Though I forgot to prep the coffee pot, and my morning cup is empty.

Though our well holding tank has rusted out and needs replacing.

Though the baby is screaming, and I didn’t sleep last night.

Though the mini-van engine has gone kaput.

Though I can’t get caught up on chores to save my life.

Though a loved one said such hurtful words.

Though the blueprint of what I think my life should look like is far from what my life actually looks like.

I will rejoice in who God is. I will trust in His love for me, and that my security is found in Him alone.”

There are seasons in all of our lives when everything falls apart. The end is far from view, and we march on through what feels like endless Silly Putty. These are the times when God teaches us where our security truly lies. When everything starts crumbling, He is our steady foundation. When we are afraid of catastrophe, He is our fortress and hiding place. He doesn’t change even when our circumstances do. So while we can’t celebrate the brokenness, we can celebrate who He is in the middle of it all.

Psalm 46 is such a powerful chapter that calls for our rest in the middle of Silly Putty moments (worse, actually). You most likely are familiar with the verse that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” But what’s so powerful about that verse is that it’s a commandment in the middle of global catastrophe! The images used in the whole Psalm are ridiculously scary! (Did you see 90’s movie Deep Impact? Yeah…legit Armageddon stuff. Walls of water, mountains crumbling, and the like).

It’s right smack in the middle of chaos and catastrophe that God declares, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Drop. The. Mic.

Wherever you are. Whatever you are dealing with. Whatever chaos is surrounding you. Stop today and consider the bigness of God. Consider His promises that He never changes, and that He is very present with you (even when you can’t see, feel, or hear Him).

Take this moment right now and consider that in the middle of your Silly Putty He is powerfully moving. He is rock steady.

Be encouraged, dear friend. The story isn’t over. Our God is mighty, and the floods of life do not threaten or intimidate His position or authority.

Run Hard. Love Strong.