So I’ve been trying to figure out why waiting is so difficult lately. Nobody likes to wait. I can’t stand it when I accidentally head out to run an errand on a Friday evening at 6pm and get caught waiting in rush hour traffic around here. We order pizza online so that we can arrive at exactly the right time at the pizza shop and pick up our goods without any wait. By the way, when someone is at the counter before me, and they are standing there trying to decide what they want to order as the pizza guy stands there awkwardly… I often have to hold back from ordering for him, since he clearly doesn’t know pizza shop etiquette. The point being, I really don’t like waiting. No one else does either.
Way to go, Snickers- you just ruined every parents desire for their children to be hungry for dinner. Seriously.
Do you want something? Go get it! Don’t wait for it! What good is waiting, anyways?
We’ve never learned what it means to wait. It’s not a part of our everyday life training.
So what happens when you’ve been anticipating having a child, expecting that she’s going to be here by about thanksgiving, and all of a sudden everyone’s entered into the 12 days of Christmas and you’re sitting there realizing that she was due 7 days ago and it’s feeling REALLY long?
And what happens when you relocate your entire family to a new state to start a faith community that’s founded on welcoming people into your lives instead of simply inviting them to an event, and you realize after 5 months that it takes a long time to build up trust with a world that is so skeptical about kindness?
What happens??? I’ll tell you.
You realize that….. well, you suck at waiting.
Patience has never been a strong area of mine. I think in terms of expedience. How fast can I get from point A to point B. It took marrying someone with a vastly different approach to life 6 years ago before I realized that the point of backpacking was not to see how many miles you could traverse in a day before you collapsed under your pack from sheer exhaustion (27.2, by the way).
As we wait for our little girl (and she will arrive within 6 days, we KNOW), I’ve been trying to explore what I can learn instead of choosing the roads more travelled, of:
-Trying to rush it
-Wishing away the time
And as 15 of us work together to create a growing community of love, openness, and inclusion to explore the way of Jesus, I’ve been trying to explore what I can learn instead of choosing the roads more travelled, of:
– Get as many people as fast as you can, even if you pull them from other churches
– Spend gobs of money to “market” your new church (eww)
– Settle for entertainment rather than vulnerability and trust.
In both of these areas, I’ve concluded that I’m terrible at waiting. And I’ve concluded that that’s a spiritual problem.
I’ve looked through several scriptures, especially during these weeks leading up to Christmas. By the way, these weeks are a season we Jesus-followers call Advent- which literally means “the arrival” or “the coming” – go figure. So in Advent we wait for the coming of Jesus. It turns out even Christmas is about waiting. Ugh.
Anyways, as I’ve looked at waiting, it seems to me that God has more of a “good things come to those who wait” kind of a mentality. (don’t get me wrong, this is not a theological statement. You can wait forever to see a new Twilight film, but it still won’t be any good.)
The two things that emerge as the greatest benefits of periods of waiting are:
1) A deeper understanding of patience- a perspective of the whole story that’s happening.
2) The joy of anticipating what’s to come. This means that waiting gives us time to dream of the future with a bit of wide eyed wonder, instead of simply wishing the time away.
During Christmas, we wait with anticipation to re-tell the story that we’ve already heard so many times, because the truth of God actually loving humanity enough to enter the human experience is not exactly something you hear about everyday. Power being portrayed not through strength, but through vulnerability, is not a story you get to hear everyday. It’s worth waiting for. It’s worth anticipating. And personally, I think it’s worth dreaming about with a little wide-eyed wonder.
Having my first daughter is worth anticipating. And dreaming about.
Leading a faith community where people with all sorts of religious or nonreligious backgrounds can do life and explore Jesus in an atmosphere of love and trust– no matter how long it takes, is worth being patient for.
Being a part of the ongoing long-term story that is being written in the world- God’s story- allows for something else unique. When we can see and recognize the benefit of waiting, when it creates a new patience and anticipation in us- then it seems that we finally become ready to enjoy those good things when they come. And maybe those things can have a more profound impact on us when we’re ready.
Jesus had this metaphor, where he said that if we hang out in the vine long enough, we start bearing fruit. If we choose to wait in the right way, in the right spot, in the right presence, then when those things we are waiting for finally arrive, we’re able to get every ounce of joy that they are able to offer.
I still want our daughter to hurry up and get born.
And I still want God to use LifePath to bring love and hope to lots of lives (sooner rather than later, honestly!).
But what I really want is to be patient and joy-filled in the waiting, so that when the time comes, I’m ready to take it all in, and I’m ready to tell the story over and over again with a bit of wide-eyed wonder. That’s what I want.
(but I’ll just have to wait and see what happens ;))