Have you ever felt like things were taking FOREVER? You find yourself repeatedly asking when things will finally fall into place. When will your soul mate finally appear in your life? When will you land your dream job? When will you finally have that opportunity, or get that break, you've been longing and waiting for? When will it be YOUR turn? In these struggles, it feels like life is passing you by, while it can seem like everyone else's life is going along with no issues.
This is a struggle I know all to well. The longing, the waiting, the tears, the frustration, and all the questions that surround the situation. Self-doubt and questioning loom large in my mind. Jealousy of others who appear to be getting the very things I'm desiring creeps in. Eventually, if I'm not careful, resentment or bitterness can begin to grow, as I sulk about how this isn't how things should be. It's not really that I don't want others to have these wonderful things, it's just that I would simply like them for myself as well. "Just wait it out a little longer", is a frequent mantra that runs through my mind. I try to once again plaster a smile on my face while my heart sinks for what feels like the millionth time. I find myself taking deep slow breaths, trying to regain some sense of composure and inner peace.
Are you like me? Can you relate to this? Why do we so often find ourselves in situations that require us to wait, to be patient for some undisclosed amount of time with no guarantees of getting the outcome our hearts truly desire?
I really wish I had some fantastic, insightful answer that would make the waiting and the possibility of a "no" seem less soul crushing. Sadly, I don't, all I can offer is that there can be some inner transformation that happens as we wait. During the times when it feels like the outcomes are out of our hands, there are actually somethings that are within our ability to control. We have the ability to utilize these times of preparation and waiting to cultivate our inner world. Here are some things to practice while you are waiting.
Sometimes we get so lost in the struggle that we forget the joys that are readily available to us in the moment. During times of waiting we get to choose whether we loose the moments that are right in front of us by longing for the uncertain future, or we can can choose to be present with the circumstances as they are right in this moment. Take these times to tune into the people and things that create beauty and spark joy in your life. Make it your personal quest to savor those moments. Maybe it is the sparkle of a star against the dark night sky. The sound of snorting and belly laughs from one of your friends as you reminisce about a memory you made together. Or even the soft, cozy feeling of your favorite blanket, while you hands embrace your hot cup of coffee, first thing in the morning. Who knows how long these indulgences will be yours to savor? Why loose these moments longing for future moments? Lay hold of the blessings you have right now. Experience them fully taking care to notice with all of your senses fully engaged the sounds, sights, and feelings they create in you.
It may sound crazy when you are in the middle of waiting to look for your blessings, but it honestly, will help your situation. This simple fact has been proven scientifically and psychologically and, believe it or not, even scripturally. Set aside some time each day for the practice of being grateful. Many people find it helpful to do this first thing in the morning or as they are laying in bed right before dozing off, but honestly any time of the day or night will work. You don't have to just limit yourself to listing your blessings. You can also practice retelling your life stories. Rehearse your history and the many ways you have overcome various obstacles, ways you have been blessed, people in your life who love and support you. This act of rehearsing these highlights of your history is a great way to solidify your personal story of triumph. You are an overcomer in so many areas of your life already. Certainly this one situation isn't the only thing that will make or break you. You are not defined by any one circumstance or situation. By consistently remembering the many positive things that are already present in your life and the obstacles you have overcome, you will literally re-wire your brain to have a more positive outlook. And guess what; when you see things more positively things really truly do go better.
Have you ever had the experience of telling a toddler/preschooler to wait? If not let me paint the picture for you. You tell the child you have an amazing surprise for them, something you know they will absolutely love, but you let them know they will need to wait a little while to receive it. At first it might go ok, but if you wait to long chaos will ensue. The child will begin to barrage you with questions about when they will get the surprise and what it is. If you don't give in they will begin to beg for more information, this will typically lead to whining and/or sulking, followed by misbehavior, and tantrums. Any parent has lived this cycle on many occasions. And, if you think about it for a moment, isn't that pretty similar to how we "wait" for things? I hate to admit it, but I know it is true of me on more occasions than I care to admit. I go from excitement, to questioning, to demanding, to doubting and finally to sulking. Not a pretty picture. And, honestly, that is not the person I want to be. I assume it is not the type of person you want to be either. What if we were to use these waiting opportunities to cultivate an attitude of true patience? One where we sit quietly with expectation believing that "the good thing" will come our way. What if we were to choose to trust that things will work out exactly as they should, even if what we desire doesn't come to fruition. What if, when we have done all that we can do, we were accepting what was, what is, and what will be, in this very moment. The words courage, hope, perseverance, and peace come to mind. Those would be words I would prefer to have used to describe me. I believe those are the very traits that are forged within us when we choose, by an act of our will, to put down the struggle and wait quietly.
As you continue on your waiting journey, I hope you know you are not alone. Our specific struggles may be different, but our journey is similar. May peace be with us as we wait.