five lessons on waiting well
The other day I was catching up with a good friend over coffee. She's struggling with singleness as she sees all of her friends get married, start families, and other things of the sort. As we talked, she stopped herself mid-sentence and said: "Yeah, but this is nothing compared to what you're going through."
I thought for a second, and then I stopped her. Because that statement was so thoughtful but also really silly. Her struggle really isn't that different from mine. In that moment, I realized something important. Struggle often comes down to the same heart issue: waiting.
Honestly, I think all of us are waiting for something. And it's usually something we have zero control over.
You might be waiting for a spouse, you might be waiting to be treated for an incurable disease or two, you might be waiting to get out of that job you hate, you might just be waiting for a job, you might be waiting to get pregnant...or you might be waiting to HAVE said child. (I've been told being eight months pregnant during Texas summers is not fun.)
Whether it's a big life decisions or smaller ones, there's always something.
I think this is something we all have in common, and it's not a coincidence this same theme is woven throughout scripture.
This, THIS, is what I love about the Bible. It's filled with stories of imperfect people who wade through long periods of waiting and suffering (Job, David, Habbakuk, Moses, Noah, and Hosea). Stories of how they wrestled with God, how they prayed, and then God's faithfulness throughout it.
Take David for instance. God invited him to rant, pray, yell, cry, and engage Him during the worst times of his life. And despite our unfaithfulness, our kicking and screaming, He remains faithful.
So, in the past 2.5 years of being sick, I've learned a few things on what it means to wait well. This is not an exhaustive list by any means and definitely doesn't mean I do it well, but they are things I have to remind myself of daily:
1. Remember God is good:
He is for you. He is for you. He is for you. I have to repeat this mantra to myself on a daily basis.
His goodness to us may not look what we expect and probably not in the timing we expect...keep this in mind.
Psalm 86:5: For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Philippians 1:6: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
2. Don't numb yourself to pain
Your emotions are valid. God gives us emotions for a reason, and it's a good one. They point us to truths we're believing. Also, Jesus was an emotional guy. He wept. He flipped tables. He rejoiced with those who rejoiced and mourned with those who mourned.
Shutting yourself off to pain will also numb you to joy. This is something my mentor pointed out to me within minutes of us first meeting and made me watch Brene Brown's TED talks.
If you haven't watched them yet, stop reading and do that now. And then let's grab coffee to talk about it.
3. Keep your eyes on the big picture
A big part of spiritual growth in New York City for me was seeing the difference between western individualistic culture and more of a collective culture we see a lot in Biblical passages. In short, there's more to life than just us. Easier said than believed, I know.
He's the great Author and interweaves every story for something infinitely greater than we could ever imagine for ourselves. Think of the Israelites 3500 years ago when saved from slavery. Noah while building the ship. Joseph while in prison.
Once I change my perspective, suddenly things don't seem as do or die.
God doesn't work in the timeframes we always expect. Let's not have a myopic view of our lives and how God works.
4. Surround yourself with community
This is, by far, one of the most important things for me. This is one of God's most tangible ways of loving me when I'm at my worst. When I'm in the trenches, I lose sight of the finish line. All I see is my situation...and then I isolate myself. For me, this looks like binge-watching the Big Bang Theory and shutting myself off from the world.
When I invite others in when I'm in the worst of times, they change my perspective. They help carry my burdens. They help me see things I don't. As my dear friend Amelie says: "I know you don't have enough faith for yourself right now that you'll get through this. But that's okay. Because I do."
Be vulnerable. Invite others in. You'll be better for it, and others will be too. I promise.
5. Remind yourself that beauty will come out of it
This is not an "if" statement. We serve a God who redeems and restores all things. You think your situation is the worst? I get it. I really do. But the worst thing ever -- Christ dying -- ended up being one of the most beautiful things in history.
Sorrow may last for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
My question to you is: how can we find joy in the now? Is it mentoring kids while you wait for a family? Is it finding life in your side hustle while you wait for another job opportunity? Is it baking cookies for your nurses and doctors or having a dance party with other patients? Whatever it is, let's do it.
This is my charge to you: let's wait well. Let's fight for joy. There is beauty to be found in the now.