Right now I’m waiting. More specifically, I am waiting for my pain medications to work their voodoo magic so my body can finally relax and rest. Those pesky neurotransmitters certainly are taking their own sweet time to shut down those pain receptors. I think they got lost somewhere along the way and are refusing to ask for directions – maybe they’re having a party with my medulla-oblongata. (Dude, I’ve always wanted to use that word in a blog post – writing goal #57 – check!) Hmph. They must be men.
I’m doing a lot of waiting right now in health, relationships, career, ministry, finances – you name it. And, frankly, it is making me weary. No one likes waiting. Tis too bad seeing as so much of our lives are spent waiting. Anticipation. Perseverance. Endurance. Patience. All of those “waiting”-words.
God promises me that waiting through suffering is supposed to produce endurance, perseverance and patience. (Pinky swear.) And somehow this is all magically supposed to turn into faith and hope. Somehow, all this waiting is good for me. (Kinda like those Brussels sprouts my husband keeps trying to convince me are yummy nummy. For the record, I still don’t believe him. But he’s fooled my children into thinking so – so there’s that.)
I don’t always like what’s good for me. As a child my stubborn impatience was legendary. Oh the tantrums when I was told to wait! PTSD producing for my parents. My mother still shudders over the animal cracker grocery store incident, which I don’t care to go into thank you very much. As a mother myself, I am now trying to teach two unruly little men-in-the-making how to wait. How to wait in line. How to wait your turn. How to wait for that thing you want “soooooo bad”. And, most importantly, how to wait on the Lord.
Seeing that my boys inherited their fair share of their mama’s impatience, I have tried to get intentional about teaching my boys how to wait. We’ve made a game out of it. On those days I’m feeling brave, we purposely get in the long line at the grocery store just to practice the art of waiting. We play games such as “I Spy”, “The Quiet Game” and, we make friends with those around us (whether the unsuspecting stranger is a willing participant or not). I relax. They relax. And the wait in line becomes part of the experience of our day instead of something to endure as we impatiently try to rush to the next thing. We are a much happier trio when I remember to approach our times of waiting with this intentionality. It’s part of what sculpts their character.
I wonder if God does the same with me? Does he choose the long line to intentionally teach me what it means to wait on Him?
Do I believe He could change my circumstances? Yes, I think I do. So, why hasn’t He?
I realize I will never get a full answer to that question on this side of heaven. Most days, I’m okay with that. But, what I do know is that when I look back at my life and the times when I have been placed in the “long line” by my heavenly Parent, my character grows and I change – dare I say for the better? I am infinitely more patient that I used to be (although spend a few days with me and you’ll learn I have a ways to go). My eyes see more of the opportunities of the present, even when the present is painful, hard work or just plain boring. I realize there are relationships specifically designed for the waiting; and it is in that waiting that some of the most beautiful relationships grow – both humanly and heavenly ones. And just because God is quiet doesn’t mean He’s not working or progress is not being made.
Tonight concludes the first week of Advent. I’ve spent it waiting in bed for my symptoms to subside and my body to heal. To be honest, I’ve been pretty bummed about it. I want to be well so I can decorate, cut down a tree, go Christmas shopping, do good, bake cookies, serve, get all crafty… what I think the Christmas season is supposed to look like.
But when I think about it, that’s not what the first Christmas was like. There was a long, hard journey. Pain. Fear. Exhaustion. Unknowns. Waiting for a baby who was promised to save the world…somehow. He came. He conquered. He promised hope and faith out of endurance and perseverance and patience. He promised He’d work it all out in the end and restore the brokenness that litters our waiting rooms. But not in the way our human minds expected.
This time of waiting is not what I expected this Christmas. But, if I keep my mind focused on the story behind the season, I may be a lot more connected to it here in my bed than in the mall or at that party.
I’m in the long line. But at the end is peace, beauty and restoration. And it just may come from the most unlikeliest of places. Just like it did over 2000 years ago.