The Weight of “The Wait”
Wait, I say on the Lord! (Psalm 27:14).
One of the most common experiences of the Christ-lead life is the process of waiting. We see this concept repeated over and over in the Bible. From the principle of “Seed time then harvest” (Gen 8:22) to “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matt 25:13). As Christians, we are often required to wait on the promises of God. Many accounts in the bible teach us that not only are we to wait, but we must wait well. So what does this mean?
Every woman that has had a baby understands waiting. Any defendant in a court case with a jury out to decide his fate understands waiting. A family in an emergency room waiting on a doctor to come speak with them about their loved one understands the difficulty of waiting. A parent with a teen out past curfew and not answering her cell phone understands waiting. A wife with a cheating spouse looks at the clock in the wee hours of the morning, vacillating between fear and anger understands waiting. A mother waiting on the mailman to bring a much needed child support check to pay rent and buy food understands waiting.
As a Christian wife I have waited and continue to wait for a promise God made to my family. This is what I call the long term wait… 16 years to be exact. And yes, admittedly, it can be a slow daily grind. Each new day brings new hope but by late evening, if there is no sign of that promise on the horizon, then anxiety and even dread can start to creep in. At this point, I make it a mental exercise to determine how I am waiting. I offer you the same. Be open to assessing your style of waiting. How do you deal with the weight of “The Wait”?
So, how do you wait?
Webster defines waiting as “to stay in a place until an expected event happens, until someone arrives, until it is your turn to do something, etc.; to not do something until something else happens; to remain in a state in which you expect or hope that something will happen soon; to stay in place in expectation of an occurrence.”
What Webster does not tell you is that most of us are waiting, nervously, angrily, wearily, sadly, or hopelessly which leads to sheer exhaustion. If you are waiting in this mental state, it can take its toll on your emotions, your personality and your physical body. What I have observed in my experience as a spiritual counselor is that there are three main modes of waiting.
The Quiet Wait – The person who employs this method, you know she is waiting on something, but she makes no mention of it. The picture of patience… it seems. Or has she just gotten good at hiding the emotions, and it shows up in other areas of life. Health, relationships, etc. You could set your watch by her hourly sighs and daily cries.
The Anxious Wait – The person who waits anxiously needs to talk it out. She is on pins and needles and needs constant reassurance and confirmation that her waiting isn’t in vain.
The Working Wait – This is the “let me help this along” wait. The person who uses this method needs to make something happen. She can’t just sit around and wait on things to happen. Waiting appears to be a huge waste of precious time.
So, how do you wait? Sarah, Abraham’s wife and one of the founding mothers of our faith, was a “let me help this along” waiter. God gave the promise to Abraham (pertaining to his descendants) when his wife Sarah was 75, which was much too old to conceive. So having to wait in a seemingly impossible circumstance, Sarah took matters into her own hands and gave her servant, Hagar to her husband. (Genesis 16: 1-4). As we know, Sarah eventually did conceive, but not until 15 years later, at the age of 90!
Alright ladies, I think we can collectively have Sarah’s back here and admit that we all have a little of her in us. The thought of waiting 15 years for something to happen is daunting, and who among us wouldn’t think to “help this thing along”? Not only was the promise obscure at best, it made no natural since! I am most certain that this story resonates with a lot of us. I can imagine Sarah felt that same dread and anxiety that I can sometimes experience when there is no sign of the promise. Have any of you had to wait for a vision that you or your husband has had to come to pass? Some of you may still be waiting for that big promotion, new business, the bigger home, more travel, retirement, or whatever it is… “It” sure is taking its sweet time! So why just sit around and wait for things to happen, right? If you want something, you have to go out and get it right?
What if Sarah had been a quiet waiter? She’d probably mope around the house with a down countenance, until perhaps Hagar, feeling sorry for her mistress, would have decided to ambitiously “help this along.” Or if she was an anxious waiter, needing to talk about the promise every time she was with Abraham, he would have started to avoid being in the same room with her. Making it impossible for Isaac to ever be! Either way, we can certainly learn from how Sarah dealt with the weight of “The Wait”.
So, how should you wait?
Problems arise when we don’t recognize the type of waiter we are, and we don’t employ methods that help in the process of waiting. Not understanding, or trying to suppress your natural “wait mode” can have damaging results, as we see in Sarah’s case. Most of the women I talk to tend to be “let me help this along” waiters. The reason most of us women can identify with the Sarah is because God made us a “help meet” (Gen 2: 18-25). It is how we are wired. We are helpers by nature, and so we are determined to help someone do something.
So, how do we deal? We all have different ways of coping. Some will eat and gain weight. Some won’t eat and lose weight. Or some just sit at home and sulk causing everyone around them to dread their company. But there is a better way!
Let me offer here that perhaps Sarah needed a project. Women, because we are helpers, need projects and finding worth-while, beneficial projects to work on will help honor the “help meet” in each of us. We are at our best when our days are full of purpose. Without a purpose for each day, the alternative is that we will set about fixing things that don’t need fixing. (Not to keep throwing her under the bus, but again, see Sarah).
In my process of waiting, I have discovered some things that have helped to alleviate the weight of “The Wait”. Let me be clear, these are suggestions for useful activities. Not distractions, or a means of forgetting the fact that you are waiting on a promise from God, and thereby losing sight of it. Instead, I am offering suggestions for activities that might ease the stress of waiting. These activities are organized by the 3 typical modes of waiting, but don’t be restricted. These are all helpful in any case:
For the Quiet Waiter: These activities will help you get some of your emotions out in a healthy and productive way.
- Start a blog about your feelings and experiences. You may be surprised how many people can relate. Or a diary if you are not comfortable dispelling all of your inner thoughts to the public
- Read the latest novels
- Begin to write the novel you have been contemplating for years
- Attend a Bible Study class and/or read books on the importance of patience
- Focus on personal fitness goals – Christian yoga and Pilates are great for the quiet waiter. There is a lot of deep breathing!
- Rediscover a hobby
For the Anxious Waiter: These activities will help you talk, talk and talk some more.
- Increase your Brain power and release that verbal energy. Learn a different language
- Begin a bible class in your home and teach on patience
- Become a mentor to someone who needs your guidance and wisdom
- Explore museums and historical societies – this will give you plenty to talk about
- Focus on personal fitness goals – Dance classes are great for the anxious waiter. These are a great place to socialize with other women.
- Rediscover a hobby
For the Working Waiter: These activities will allow you to do, do, and do something else. These will keep your mind and hands busy.
- Volunteering at a church, hospital, civic organization, non-profit organization periodically in addition to your job.
- Helping friends plan events like parties or a wedding. Be careful, as these can become all-consuming!
- Plan a Ladies Night out once a month and enjoy a restaurant that you’ve never been to or see the latest movie.
- Volunteer at your child’s school or join the local PTA which has a long list of volunteer positions on a monthly basis.
- Focus on personal fitness goals - Want to put in some work? Boot Camp! Need I say more?
- Rediscover a hobby
I guess my point is obvious. Waiting is hard and there is no way around that. But by engaging in activities of interest to you, waiting can be an opportunity to enhance your social skills, meet new people, learn new things and discover new talents. If you have to wait why not make it work in your favor. So instead of complaining about it, decide that the time waiting will be spent improving you.
Every minute that you can be focused on a fulfilling activity may help you endure another minute, hour, day, month or year of waiting. All of us have heard the phrase “time goes so fast” but that is truly relative. If you are having fun, time is perceived to go swiftly. However, when you are waiting, checking your watch and calendar time seems to creep by. We all know that time does not move at different rates, but especially in the case of waiting, perception is reality. So do something to take some of the weight out of “The Wait”.
Oh yes, and dare I forget… PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! It goes without saying, prayer is crucial during “The Wait”. God is always there to meet you at your point of need… in this case comfort and patience!
With Prayers & Love,
First Lady Lynda