I recently saw a media post about “seasons of waiting.” It got me thinking about the idea that “good things come to those who wait,” and how often I find myself waiting.
It feels especially relevant to me lately, having just started working again after four months of social distancing. Life while work was shut down at first felt like a waiting game as I looked ahead to seeing my preschoolers again and getting back to serving my use. Waiting through the uncertainty and change brought on by Covid-19 seems to suit the topic of waiting particularly well, but I think we do a lot of waiting for other things too. For career goals to take off, for hardships to pass, for future phases of life, for peace, for time, for Christmas, for the weekend.
Waiting is a normal part of life. It’s great to value and look forward to things, and to have things we’re working for or toward. In fact, waiting that looks ahead and motivates work or patience is certainly useful. Therefore, it seems quite natural to pair the idea of waiting with the idea of patience. However, it seems that waiting patiently can sneakily and subtly turn into inaction as well. I’ve found that I’m perfectly capable of waiting lazily or selfishly, and that waiting on its own really isn’t as admirable as it can sometimes feel!
I’m not suggesting that waiting is inherently a bad thing, but it seems we’ll never find ourselves without something to wait for. There is a line that I keep finding I’ve crossed – a phase of the waiting mindset that forgets that I have important things to do now; that the Lord is calling me to action now. If a season of waiting isn’t also a season of working, we might be missing something. Perhaps, as we look forward to things, we could replace “wait” with “work.” We’ll never be without something to work for or toward.
Something that motivates me to live more presently instead of slipping into more passive waiting is a fear of not properly valuing the things I wait for when I do have them. I remember when the job and overall life I have now would have seemed like a dream come true. Years later, I forget that I waited for this, too aware of the next things I wait for. Am I short changing myself by not fully appreciating it when I get what I have been waiting for? Do I take full advantage of my time when I reach the weekend? Do I appreciate clarity and peace of mind when I have it as much as do when I’m waiting for it? Do I love my job now as much as I missed it before?
It seems like a waste of opportunity to be looking ahead too much. Yes, one day maybe quarantine will end; one day maybe I’ll have the family I hope for; one day certain flaws might get easier to fight; one day it will be Christmas, or the weekend. Then what? I’ll find myself waiting for new things. That’s natural as our lives change, but not a reason to take what we have for granted. If I’m not fulfilled and grateful for now, how will I know how to be fulfilled and grateful then? How can I fully deserve, be useful in, and even come to truly recognize a new good thing if I become too accustomed to a waiting mindset that pulls my heart away from my current uses? It’s okay to wait. But I think we get where we’re going if we stay present in our worlds as we move towards those things. The best way to wait is to do so while we learn to love what we have, and turn our attention to what the Lord is offering us right now.
Living more presently and gratefully even in phases of waiting has been a theme I’ve come back to a lot this year. By living presently and gratefully I can learn to better appreciate the good in the waiting phases themselves, instead of focusing so much on future hopes that I miss the paths right in front of me. While waiting through quarantine I challenged myself to find the opportunities and uses the Lord was handing me throughout. Looking back, I’m convinced that much of His leading moved me forward, making me more prepared than before to give my all and embrace finally having what I was waiting for.
“It is also a law of order that a person should love God with all his soul and all his heart, and his neighbour as himself, and not hang back waiting for God instantaneously to place either love in his mind and heart, like bread from the baker’s in the mouth.” True Christian Religion 71