A former manager at work put it well when she said that “WAIT” is a four-letter word. I hate to wait. I don’t know anyone who likes to wait. Yet, it seems that (darn it!) we spend much of our lives waiting. Waiting in line. Waiting for that promotion. Waiting for healing. Waiting for that big break. Waiting for vacation. Waiting for spring. Waiting for morning during a sleepless night. Waiting for just a moment to breathe. Waiting in traffic.
It feels like all my loved ones are waiting for something right now: To be able to walk after shattering the bones in a leg for one person, and after foot surgery for another. For a much-needed job. For blood test results that will allow for another round of needed chemotherapy. For a baby to be born. For love.
And, in this season, for many of us, we are waiting in the season of Advent for Christmas. Waiting for peace on earth. Waiting for Santa. Waiting for that perfect gift to be opened. Waiting for hope.
Waiting, waiting and more waiting.
With all this waiting, it seemed like a good time to ask myself what good can come from waiting? If I’m going to spend a large chunk of my life doing it, shouldn’t I find some meaning in it? If ‘waiting’ is a verb, what do I want it to DO for me? How can it be for me more than simply something to endure?
So, lately, I’ve been experimenting with a new way of waiting. I look at the people in the cars around me, also stuck in gridlock, and I wonder about them and their lives. Where are they going? I look at the person in front of me in the grocery store line, and I pray a blessing over them. I try to be present with my friend who is many weeks away from being able to put weight on her leg so she can begin the process of walking. I try not to offer solutions or make things something that they are not (as much as I’d love to!). I’m trying to just BE in whatever I’m in, and to look for what it is there to teach me.
Lofting ambitions, yes. And while I’m only successful at doing this approximately 4% of the time, I must say that when I can quiet my mind from only longing for the desired future state (my loved one’s healing, MY turn with the cashier at the store), I do find that there can be gifts in the waiting. Gifts of presence, strength, and unexpected connectedness with a stranger.
The prophet Isaiah had some wise things to say about waiting. When I read these words today, it seemed to me that some very powerful, and seemingly contrary verbs were associated with waiting.
“Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.” — Isaiah 40:31
Gaining strength, flying, running, walking … found in the midst of waiting?! Sounds like this kind of waiting is active and much more beneficial than I had thought!
I, for one am going to keep learning how to wait. And to find blessings before they are expected.