Archive for the ‘Waiting’ Tag

Waiting Is so Hard!   7 comments

If your life is working out reasonably well, I am happy for you.  It is not my experience, though I daily put my heart and will into doing my best.  I feel like a dog chained to a post and told to fetch.  Most of my life I thought the whole exercise was about figuring out how to get loose so as to fetch.  That’s what smart, resourceful dogs would do.  I tried various strategies–twist to loosen the chain or pole, pull to break the chain.  I was apparently doing it all wrong, because I was a failure at fetching.  I saw other dogs retrieving all sorts of things for their master.  They had various schemes for getting free of their chain, but none of those worked for me.  I don’t have a life verse, but Kimberly one day laughed at spotting my life meme: “Well, that didn’t &#%! go as planned.”

Finally I decided that I had misunderstood my master’s intentions, and he just wanted me to sit and wait.  But what should I do while waiting?  If I were eventually going to be let loose to fetch, perhaps I should practice the skills needed… except those skills were only relevant for a retriever, and maybe that was not my purpose after all.  I was waiting for something.  What?  Was I supposed to simply learn to be good at waiting?  What does that even mean?  Patience and trust, I suppose.

Okay, so that is what my attitude should be, but what do I DO while practicing that attitude?  Is there a better way to sit or lie?  Inside the doghouse or out?  Do I keep my eyes closed or look at something… at what?  I was sure there were better and worse ways to wait.  Slowly anxiety overtook my patience–I need to be a better waiter!!  Apparently the one thing I do really poorly is wait.  And I am so legalistic I can even turn doing nothing into a standard to meet.

But look at all those other dogs doing their thing!  Dogs have legs to jump and run and mouths to grab and hold… they weren’t designed to just sit.  Are these joys of life the rewards for getting good marks in waiting?  Or is waiting well its own reward?  It doesn’t feel rewarding.  It feels like being forgotten, or worse still being rejected, like I’m not good enough to fetch.  As you can see, I still have a long way to go in learning trust and patience. Doing nothing is really hard!



Posted July 2, 2016 by janathangrace in thoughts

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When Life Drags Its Feet   2 comments

Patience was a virtue before the industrial revolution, but we’ve developed beyond that to aim rather for efficiency.  Waiting is passe.  In the old days we had to gather wood and build a fire to boil water, but then we invented electric stoves, followed by microwaves, and now (since we can’t wait 90 seconds) we have steaming water on tap.  We’ve discovered that frustration breeds progress–impatience is the new virtue.  All the important people are doing it.  I know I felt important–and righteous–when I was hurrying to do God’s work, but I think I missed a turn somewhere, because I seem to be stuck in the slow lane in God’s Kingdom… although, since I’m not even inching forward, maybe I’m in the back parking lot.

As I shared in my last post, I have never been good at waiting.  When God scheduled practice sessions, I played hooky, so I finally got sent to Waiting Boot Camp where I’ve been for a long time now because, apparently, I’m a slow learner. How ironic.  Waiting well is an art, and no one advances in it without first understanding its value.  What good does waiting offer?  Let me start by pointing out problems that come from not waiting.

First of all, there is the bad alternative solution, the shortcut that ends in a mess (ask Abraham about Hagar).  If the best solution requires more time, then every quicker solution is going to be defective.  It turns out that God’s not in a rush because he has all the time in the world (literally), and he’s savvy to the best rhythm. being both the composer and conductor of the symphony we call history.  In fact he IS the rhythm of history, so it’s kind of important that we get in sync with him. The point is to experience the music, not get to the end as quickly as possible. To play his music well, we must be as faithful to the musical rest as to the beat.  Timing is fundamental, good waiting is as crucial as good working.

Second, there is our own arrested development, the shortchanging of our own experience and growth, missing what God wishes to do in us and for us by having us wait.  When God has us wait, it is always for our benefit, never for our deprivation.  God does not have to bilk us in order to bless others, because his resources are limitless.  His one unwavering motivation for delay is expressed in his Son: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”  We cheat ourselves when we rush ahead because our growth and fulness depend as much on our stillness as on our striving.  The first is just as active in shaping and satisfying us as the second.

Finally, there is the impaired relationship, because when two are out of step, their dance suffers.  Our motives for pushing ahead of God hurt our bond with him, whether that comes from doubt in his wisdom and love or from being too willful and inattentive or from fear or pride.  All of those pull us away from a trusting relationship.  The motives erode our connection and then the actions we take widen that fissure.  That is to say, capitulating to our fear is relationally harmful, and so are the actions we take in living out that fear.  When Abraham bedded Hagar to get a son, he not only side-tracked God’s plan and undercut his own faith, but he also distanced himself from God.  He was less able to hear him, to trust him, to receive from him, to delight in his presence.

So failure to wait hurts the objective, the person, and the relationship.

But if you are like me, God doesn’t speak clearly and audibly to give specific directions, so how can we know if we are missing his timing?  It is a dance.  Dance partners don’t have a running monologue, “Step to your left… step back… on the count of three, dip.”  Through a lot of practice and experience they learn to feel one another’s rhythms, patterns, and tells, and it is always more about moving together than getting the steps precise, more about trust and response than about rules and conformity.  But if we do not embrace the pause, the waiting, as well as the stride, we will likely miss our partner’s gentle guidance and stumble in the dance.  Waiting seems like doing nothing, but it is pregnant with power.  Doing and waiting are the inhaling and exhaling of life’s rhythmic progress.

Posted February 23, 2015 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Waiting Is for Weenies   Leave a comment

I hate waiting.

I hate it on the telephone, I hate it at the traffic cone;
I hate it at the DMV–I’m what? two hundred eighty three?!
I hate it now, I’ll hate it then. You say I have to wait till WHEN?!
I hate it here, I hate it there; it chafes me like wool underwear.

Waiting is worse than death.  When you’re dead you don’t know you’re stuck in the universe’s time-out corner, suffocating on your current meaninglessness, accomplishing squat.  Time squandered at least brings pleasure, but time waiting, minute by minute, is a complete loss, like setting fire to money… slowly… one bill at a time.   If you tolerate delays, you clearly don’t value time.  Unless you have the silly notion that waiting is itself a benefit, which is as crazy as valuing an empty wallet!  I’m sure you’ll get a lot of people buying into that motto.  What would your bumper sticker say, something cockamamie like “Blessed are the Poor”?  Next you’ll tell me that being comfortable with waiting is not a vice of the lazy but a virtue of the wise, and that pre-moderns called it “patience.”  Well, patience will get you nowhere, and it will get you there late.  If you want results, try yelling.

Is there any benefit to me for being patient, or is it just to benefit God because he’s tired of hearing me whine?  Is God losing his cool with me, telling me to shut up, impatiently demanding I be patient?  Does calm waiting do more than give me brownie points with God?  If virtue is its own reward, what reward does patience give?

For instance, as a hypothetical, suppose there is a lady in front of me in the fast lane at Food Lion and she waits until all her groceries are sacked and each sack placed in her cart before she thinks about her payment.  She opens her pocketbook and rummages around, shoving things this way and that until she pulls out one crumpled bill, straightens it out, and hands it to the store clerk.  She dives back in looking for another bill.  After she passes that over, she re-checks the total on the display, and goes looking for her change purse.  There must be a dime in there somewhere, she’s sure of it.  A quarter will not do.  She pulls each coin out of her purse to get a closer look before putting it back to scrummage for another.  Then the receipt must be carefully folded and the right spot found for it in the pocketbook and a place for the pocketbook in the cart.  Pretend that my smile slowly turns into a clenched jaw, my friendliness grows sullen, and my thoughts uncharitable.  Can waiting really be beneficial?  How is postponing good ever a positive? Patience is simply an unwanted chore if I cannot find a reason to value delays.  I have some thoughts to share, but you’ll have to wait 😉

Posted February 21, 2015 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Waiting for Godot   2 comments

Yeah, I know I haven’t been around for a while.  I’m trying to figure life out… still.  At least my own life.  But there are no bread crumbs for me to follow.  Why post about a meaningless life?  Who does that help?  My days have devolved into an endless round of getting up, walking the dog, reading, chatting up my wife, and going to work.    I have nothing to share about truths I’m stretching into or dreams I’m sketching out or even struggles I am surviving.  Life has dumped me in a DMV waiting room with no one behind the counter.  I’ve been sitting here for a year now.

I no longer wake up miserable every morning, and there is something to be said for that, but can someone please remind me the point of waking up each morning?  It is like Groundhog Day but with an endlessly repeating script.  Didn’t we just do this yesterday… and the day before… and….   MacBeth mutters the truth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

Posted November 10, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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