I am currently in a season of waiting.
Friends! I am here to tell you I do not enjoy this season. I thrive on plans and closure. I like knowing. I like decisions and clear choices. I do not like the muddy, ephemeral slog through who knows? and maybe. But here I am, and since God is teaching me through it, I thought I’ d offer up some tips to those of you who are waiting, too – whether on something large or small.
1. Use the time for God. Time spent waiting can be time quickly wasted on fretting, pondering, and willing time to go faster. So use the time for something else. Write cards. Pray. Start a new Bible study. Memorize Scripture. Do a prayer walk of your house. Volunteer for something at your church. Start journaling. Make the phone call to minister to someone that you’ve been putting off. Do anything. Do everything! It’s a great distraction.
2. Resist the temptation to irritation and resentment. Have you ever been in line at the DMV? Stuck in a traffic jam? Then you’ll know what I mean when I say that waiting can breed a festering resentment and anger that is inherently destructive and cycles out of control very quickly. When they’re in line long enough, people get upset at everything: the sound of someone chewing gum, the employees that are helping them, the brightness or dimness of the room. Resist it. Think to yourself: I know I’m prone to irritation and anger in waiting seasons. God, help me to resist the temptation to be unkind and to lack compassion. Help me to focus on what matters and ignore the insignificant details. Teach me patience.
3. Invite others to wait with you. Having a support group matters. Knowing that other believers have your back whatever happens is deeply meaningful. Find those who will support you with prayer and encouragement as you wait for whatever you’re waiting on. Seek out those who are dependable and consistent, and let them buoy you up in the moments that you just can’t deal with waiting any more.
4. Be grateful. Waiting often frustrates because we are focused on lack. I lack answers. I lack a plan. I lack definitive understanding. I lack control. When we center ourselves on everything that we don’t have, it’s no wonder we’re driven to madness over it. Being grateful and cultivating a spirit of gratitude can pull us out of that mindset a bit. Acknowledging what we do have refocuses our attention and shifts our perspective, even if only slightly.
5. Be honest with God. My prayers lately are all over the place. But they’re honest. I tell God I’m tired of waiting. I ask Him if maybe He can settle this all in the next five minutes. Then I tell him no, I’m sorry, I know maybe the waiting is good for me. Then I ask Him if it really is good for me. Then I tell him I’m tired of waiting again. It’s good to be honest! It helps me vent – and it’s not like God doesn’t know, anyway. Plus, when I admit to Him where my thoughts are, He can start working on my heart.
6. Prepare. I don’t know what you’re waiting on, exactly, but if you can use the time spent waiting to prepare for what’s coming, do. Waiting at the DMV? Get your documentation in order before you head up to the counter. Waiting in traffic to get to work? Outline the big speech for that meeting in your head. Waiting on a relative to get out of the hospital? Work out what you can do to help them once they’re home. Waiting on someone beloved to come to Christ? Work out your ministry and service to them in the meantime.
7. Realize the wait isn’t the journey: it’s the destination. As Christians, our lives are spent waiting for what is to come. Jesus has been resurrected, but He hasn’t yet returned. We’ve been redeemed, but the fullness of that redemption has yet to play out over time. God’s plan is unfolding, but it isn’t finished yet. We live and look forward in waiting. Waiting is what we’re meant to do, and how we spend that time waiting is something we cannot neglect. So consider the waiting that you have to do now a small-scale practice is the greater spirit of waiting we all cultivate: you are living out, on a smaller scale, the truth of the Christian life: soon, but not yet. Soon, but not yet.
In this season of “soon, but not yet” I wish you patience and peace, and an abundance of good humor. One day, the waiting season will pass for good.