My husband and I have been in a season of waiting for a long time, and I’m coming to realize a few things about waiting. Mainly, that I don’t much like it. But also, everyone has to wait for something, at some point in life. Some of us are waiting for circumstances to change. Others are waiting for a much longed for conception, a new job, direction in big decisions, or financial breathing room. Still more of us are waiting on a person- praying beyond hope that a relationship might one day be restored or move past a certain point.
When you’re sitting in a waiting room, you’ve got a few literal and figurative options. They are rather limited, but you’ve got them. You can sit there, stuck, enjoying the hard vinyl chair you’re on, internalize everything, and keep it all to yourself. You can walk around a bit and keep yourself in motion, keep those muscles at the ready for when your name is called. You can lift your head, look around at the others in the waiting room with you, and get to know them a bit. Find out what their story is, and perhaps even encourage one another since you’re in this thing together. Or you can rest, accept that you’re there and allow that perhaps being still for a while isn’t such a bad thing.
None of these options are wrong, necessarily. We all wait in different ways and that’s okay. But the thing they all have in common, is that they are all about situations that are going to take as long as they take, and when you’re waiting the only thing you can really change is how you wait. The other day, I was feeling super frustrated with being plunked back into the waiting room, after a period of time when I thought we were done with all of that. I was caught up short by my tearful reaction to this ‘waiting room’ I’ve come to know so well. In the past I’ve thrown an attitude tantrum. I’ve also yelled at the person holding me in the waiting room (which of course, is God.) I’ve also had moments when I accepted it and thought that seems like the best way to go, I often had a sort of snarky ‘FINE! I accept this. It’s all I can really expect at this point anyway,’ attitude or a resigned, ‘Okay I just give up and don’t care anymore’ attitude of defeated acceptance.
Ever been there?
Here’s the thing. When God has you in a waiting room for something you actually have a lot of control, despite what you may think. You alone, get to control if you’re going to smile at the other people waiting and make a positive impact on their waiting. You alone get to control your attitude in the wait. But in order to get to that place where bitterness has lost it’s hold, anger has melted away, and you can lift your head enough to pour out encouragement to others, you must do one thing. It’s not a big thing, but at the same time, it’s everything.
Are you ready to hear the secret of waiting? Come close and I’ll whisper it.
I know. Do you want to know how many times I’ve rolled my eyes over that in the past? But… can I be honest? I’ve tried the other options like anger, yelling, tantrums, numbing my aching heart in distractions (like chocolate) and I can promise you it doesn’t fix things and in my case it’s actually made me feel worse, every.single.time. After reviewing my options I came back around to the one and only thing that’s pulled me up and set me back on my feet while waiting. Rejoicing. Active thanking God for anything and everything that there could possibly be to be thankful for, even if the only thing I can come up with is the breath in my lungs. Over and over and over, with each breath, until one more thing to rejoice over comes to mind. Then I add that one. And I continue until I’ve named so many that my anguished thoughts begin to break up into manageable, bite-sized pieces. I attack each one with a forkful of thankfulness and rejoicing and little by little my attitude in the waiting room becomes positively infectious to not only myself… but also others. It’s do-able.
God always has a purpose for every situation we’re in, so I want to encourage you that if you’re stuck in a waiting room right now along side me, rejoice over anything you can get your fingers on, and remember that waiting time is never wasting time. Let’s rejoice in this thing together.