I don’t like waiting.
Ask the delivery guy who recently brought me cold pizza two hours late. Actually, don’t ask him. That’s probably more information than you need.
Waiting feels like a waste of time. An unwelcome interruption that keeps me from moving on to the next thing. The important thing. The thing I really want to do.
For several years I’ve been waiting for changes in my life. I’m not sure what those changes will be, but I have wanted circumstances to turn around. To get easier. To be more fun.
In my mind, when my situation changes, then I can really start living.
But the truth is, this present moment is my life. I need to be here for it. Enjoy it.
I can’t wait for life to get better. I need to live it now. I need to be fully engaged in the NOW.
Jeff Goins’ book, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension between Now and the Next Big Thing encouraged me to be immersed in the present. Goins says, “The best moments are the ones happening right now. Maybe the ‘good stuff’ isn’t ahead of or behind us. Maybe it’s somewhere in between. Right in the midst of this moment, here and now.”
So if the best moments are right now, I need to rethink my view of waiting. All types of waiting. Even minor, every day waiting. Waiting in line. Waiting at the doctor’s office. Waiting in traffic. Waiting for the pizza guy.
I need to see that these times can be invitations from God. To slow down. To notice what’s around me. To hear Him.
God surprises me with unexpected blessings when I’m open. When I’m not impatient and angry, focused only on the inconvenience. When I’m willing to ask Him what to do in the waiting.
I’ve had wonderful conversations with people in waiting rooms. I’ve noticed God’s beauty when my car is idling longer than I planned. And I’ve poured out my heart to Him in traffic jams.
I’m slowly learning to appreciate the gift of time in waiting.
Yet there’s another type of waiting that is much longer than the first. It’s not measured in minutes or hours, but rather days, months, often years. It is where we live every day when we’re waiting for something to happen but we’re not quite there yet. In truth, it is where we live the majority of our lives.
This type of waiting can be even more difficult. It’s easy to overlook the joys of the present, peering longingly at what the next phase of life holds. The phase when we can relax. Finally be happy.
In grade school, I couldn’t wait for summer vacation. In high school, I was waiting to go to college. When I was working, I couldn’t wait to get a promotion. Then, I was waiting to get married, and after that waiting to have a baby. That was followed by waiting for the baby to sleep through the night, then walk, then talk. Always another milestone. Always something better just up ahead.
I was constantly yearning for the next stage of life, thinking that it would bring me more fulfillment.
It never did.
As soon as I reached one goal, the next one dangled even more promise.
In my discontentment, I missed out on so much. Because I was wishing the present moment away, I missed out on delighting in what was right in front of me. The gifts only available today.
And now, as I am waiting for the next big thing, perhaps I am missing what God wants me to enjoy right now.
He has poured out His grace on me today. He has plans for me today. He wants to walk with me today.
I need to find my joy in my daily life. In the midst of my unmet longings. In the mundane when nothing extraordinary is happening.
Life is mostly made up of ordinary days. And if I do not embrace them, at the end of my life I will find that more of my life has been wished away than enjoyed.
God wants us to cherish our days. To see the promise in every moment. To appreciate all of it- the significant memorable events and all the days in between.
I saw the beauty in relishing the in-between times several years ago on a trip to India with my family. We had planned to go on a jungle safari, but our flight was delayed by several hours. The tour guide said that no one was allowed to enter the jungle at night because the animals were roaming wild. That sounded like real wisdom since I wasn’t up for meeting a tiger. At night. In an open jeep. In the Indian jungle.
So we found a little place to spend the night before we could enter the jungle the following afternoon. That place, Gitanjali Farms, turned out to be a highlight of the trip. The peaceful, beautiful grounds of this solar-powered organic farm and the simple fresh food were just what we needed. An oasis to rest and recuperate. A place to appreciate God’s beauty.
We were blessed to spend time on this farm because our flight was late. Because our original journey was delayed. Because our plans were interrupted. What began merely as a place to wait turned into something better than our final destination.
There can be beauty in the waiting.
Goins asks the question, “What if we fell in love with the in-between times, relishing instead of resenting them?”
This is the question that I keep asking myself. What about you?
What would happen if you embraced the waiting?