Do you enjoy waiting? Or does the word WAIT simply make you cringe with disgust?
Let’s look at our to-do lists for today…do any of us have a special line item dedicated to waiting? No? But, I think all of us would acknowledge that there is going to be some waiting in our day.
We wait for the coffee pot to brew. We wait for hot water to pour from the shower. We wait for calls to be answered, emails to be responded to, children to get ready to go, spouses to arrive home, classes to end, and cashiers to close out transactions. We wait for test results. We wait for treatments to work. We wait for relationships to grow and for developing babies to be born.
When you really think about it, we do a lot of waiting. With all this waiting going on, why are we not expert wait-ers? Why does waiting seem to be one of the most painful things we go through?
Perhaps it is because we never prepare ourselves properly to wait.
My Evil Bathroom Scale
I made a personal commitment to myself this year, that my focus would be on Simple Consistency; to keep it simple and do it often. While this applies to many areas in my life like working out or reducing my food portion sizes or my acts of encouragement, it does not apply to stepping on my bathroom scale.
My bathroom scale and I have, well, a rocky history together. Some days I wish it would pass on and leave me scaleless, but with those darn lithium ion batteries it just keeps going and going.
I committed to myself that this year, my scale and I would have limited time together. I would check in one time a week, on Tuesday mornings. That is it. Simple, yes. Often, no.
I swear, that my bathroom scale has implemented an intensely focused marketing campaign against me. It seems that it is calling out to me multiple times daily. Just one try…what could it hurt. Don’t I want to know if I am making “progress”? Don’t I want to see the results?
This temptation has gotten me to the point where I vocally proclaim, “I AM WAITING!” I’m all about verbally proclamations, but if your household involves a teenage son and walls thinner that you think, be warned about what you face when you open the bathroom door. There may be looks of haughty derision mixed with shock that your craziness as a mother has just spiked to an all time high. Not to mention full body eye rolls.
Why is it that children are always in earshot and attentively listening during our foolish moments? To keep us humble? Sure, that sounds like an appeasing answer.
Now, I give this poor bathroom scale too hard of a time. It has been very reliable through out the years. Literally sticking with me through thick and thin. It is also always truthful. I have never been able to beg, offer incentive, coerce, manipulate or force a more “favorable” result out of it (even though I have tried). It is just metal, plastic and electronics. There is nothing evil about it.
This is not really a struggle between my scale and I. It is me attempting to wrestle myself.
In one corner we have the side of me that is thirsty for results, hungry to document visible physical progress. With a one, two punch, it wants gratification and accomplishment, even the fleeting kind. It is out for self; self promotion, self benefit, and is self serving.
In the other corner is the side of me that is fighting for the benefits of the process, the one that wants to grow strength in patience. It wants victory more than accomplishment and desires to grow in generosity over getting gratification. This side wants to be able to get in the ring time, and time again, with the fiercest of contenders holding out until the final count is over. All so I can point to my God and give Him the glory for getting me through.
This is not a once in a lifetime chance meeting between my two sides. Oh no, this is a long suffering rivalry that puts the border battles of college sports to shame. The side of me that desires instant gratification has left me beat up and bruised many times. I am positive that it will happen again. I know I will sin. I know I will give into temptation.
What if I was prepared to wait? What if I expected to wait? What if I planned to wait?
Mom’s Magic Purse
Have you ever encountered one of those amazing and incredible moms who seem to have a solution to any problem neatly contained within the confines of her purse?
Sneeze…here is a kleenex. Have a headache…there is tylenol. Bored kids…out comes a dice game, coloring book, crayons, bubbles and a box of legos. Hungry…how about a granola bar, bottle of water, dried fruit or an assortment of nuts.
Pens, pencils, highlighters, sharpie markets, scissors, nail file, antacid tablets, band aids, shoe laces, and skeeter stick for good measure. (For those blessed to not live in Minnesota, the land of 10 trillion mosquitoes, the skeeter stick is tube of insect bite relief medication). Not to mention the normal wallet, checkbook, keys, and phone assortment of items.
The entire inventory of your local Walgreen’s, all contained in a purse.
A wait never seems to intimidate these moms in fact they seem to be able to withstand most waits with elegance and grace. They come well prepared to wait.
While I attempt to achieve the wisdom and preparedness of these master mamas, I still find myself slapping my forehead wondering how I missed this or why didn’t I think of that. It is odd though, that some of those head slapping moments are the lessons that stick with us the longest. Perhaps head slapping is the choice exercise of endurance training master mamas.
I have to smile to myself as I think of a Psalm I read this morning;
“It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalm 119:71 (NIV)
Perhaps being afflicted by waiting, to be held back, overlooked, delayed, to face hold ups and to have expectations unrealized is a blessing which presents an opportunity to learn how to be prepared to wait.
To be prepared is to be willing to do something, to be ready. It is to be conditioned and trained. To wait is to stay in a place of expectation, to pause, yet remain ready and available.
I have to confess that I check out pretty quickly when I have to wait. I get frustrated and annoyed, and probably a little snobby too. That is all a little contrary to being ready and available. I tend not to stay in that place.
I tend to flit about…I would like to say flit about like a butterfly from flower to flower, but more realistically, I’m probably like an overtired three year old, filled with sugar & sugar substitutes, bouncing around the game area at Chuck E. Cheese on a late Saturday afternoon. It’s much more loud, annoying and chaotic than a peaceful butterfly. It may not always appear that way externally, but it is definitely what my insides look like.
When it comes to being prepared to wait, I am a beginner. Ok, perhaps I’m behind the beginners and in a remedial course carrying my Being Prepared to Wait for Dummy’s book. But I am a student to wants to learn and praying deeply that I have a teachable spirit.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
Funny how this verse begins and ends with “wait for the Lord.” That means it is probably important. Although the repetition does lend itself nicely to memorizing this verse.
Take heart. Be encouraged. Find encouragement in the waiting.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)
Renewed and refreshed. Strength to walk, to run, to fly. Those who have the courage to wait. Those who plan to wait. Those who are prepared to wait.
Wait Well Today
There is no time like the present. Let’s take this opportunity today to be more prepared to wait, and to wait well. Start small. Keep it simple. Do it often.
What if today we all wrote down Psalm 27:14 on a note card or sticky note and put it in our pocket or in our work areas. Then, when we have moments of waiting, let’s re-read it.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
May it help us to be prepared for when those inevitable moments of waiting arrive.
Thank You so much for Your grace; for the way You see a heavy weight wait-er in training within me instead of a fidgeting, forgetful, fool. Lord, thank You for the afflictions and the head slapping moments that You use to teach and train me. I am so grateful for Your perseverance with me and for me.
Lord, thank You for these incredible readers. Thank You for the ways that we can relate and learn from each other. Thank you for the differences that can shape us as well. Lord, I ask that You would help them through all of the times of waiting that they have in their lives.
Lord, be with them especially during those hard times, when it is incredibly difficult to stay in a place of readied expectation. Those times when all hope seems gone, when the struggles seem endless and when darkness closes in. Bring warmth to the cold, light to the dark, and provision to the empty.
Lord, help us to be more prepared to wait. Help us to be willing to wait. Help us to forgo the short term gratification for the long term victory. Help us to find encouragement where we least expect it and a willingness to openly share it when we do.
In the ever prepared name of Jesus, who is perpetually patient with us, amen.