February 13, 2012

Lessons from Waiting...

I am waiting… waiting to get better, after nearly 2 weeks of bronchitis. There was another time, two decades ago, when I also waited to get better – that was a 7 year wait, imposed by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This present battle is measured thankfully, in days, not years.

Much of my life has been spent waiting: waiting to grow up… waiting for college to begin… waiting to be asked on a date… waiting for his phone call… waiting for his proposal… waiting for that blessed wedding night… waiting for him to come home… waiting for infertility to somehow be transformed into a fertile home for a child… waiting for labor to begin…waiting for it to be over!

Waiting for sick children to get well… waiting for them to sleep through the night… waiting for their first word, and the next… waiting for their first steps… waiting in wonder, watching them grow, feed themselves, tie their shoes, learn to read, do their chores, make their beds, go to bed… waiting for that first performance in the choir or on the piano, that first date… waiting for them to graduate, find a job, marry, have their own children… waiting and watching, through all the choices that make up their lives.

Today I’ve waited for the doctor to finally get around to me, in what is aptly called the “waiting room.” It is part of life – this waiting.

I have waited, like everyone else for the light to turn green, for the first person in line at the turn signal to go already, so the rest of us can get through. I have waited for concerts to begin and for them to end! I have waited for dinner guests to arrive, for Christmas to come, for winter to be over, for school to start, for summer vacation.

When I can’t have what I want, I wait, hoping to get it. When I lose what I had, I wait for the pain of the loss to go away.

I have waited for peace, for the anger, the rage, the hatred to go away. I have waited for the sobbing to turn to just tears.

I have waited, bearing the burdens of those I count dear… waiting for them to become who they so desperately want to be. And I have waited on myself: to stop disappointing me.

I have waited on God: waited for Him to answer long-prayed prayers. I await Jesus’ promised return. I wait impatiently at times for heaven, with anticipation and great longing, but also with a bit of fear, since I’ve never been there.

I have waited patiently in almost total selflessness, with quiet worship and wonder, in stillness, confidence and peace. I have also waited with impatient, self-focused irritation and foot-tapping. And I have waited in great angst, with heart-racing, finger-twisting desperation. However, the weariness of my waiting turns, albeit slowly, to hope and anticipation, when I allow God to speak to my soul. “Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said.

The Psalmist knew about waiting. He spoke often about waiting on the Lord, because his hope was in God… because God’s name is good… because God would deliver. He spoke of waiting quietly and patiently, only on God… waiting all the day... waiting for His salvation. Lamentations even says the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him.

There are a number of Hebrew words for waiting, and their meanings vary from hoping, looking for, expecting, lingering for, longing for… to being in anguish, writhing, bringing forth, as in childbirth. This is the work of waiting – a deliberate choice to turn to God, instead of self, instead of others. Choosing Him above and instead of….

When I wait for the Lord, something happens inside. There’s a transformation… from impatience to patience, from discouragement to hope. Something happens to my perspective – it’s no longer so self absorbed, so temporal. I experience His goodness, His hope. My waiting turns to trust, even if it does not start there.

I have concluded that waiting is good. Waiting reminds me it’s not all about me… I don’t have to have what I want when I want it. The daily rituals of waiting remind me to wait on the Lord… to wait for Him… to worship Him… to treasure what He gives when He gives it… and most of all, to treasure Him.