There’s the joyful anticipation sort of waiting … to meet the little person you’ve been carrying for nine long months … counting the days till a birthday or Christmas … the homecoming of a loved one … the long awaited holiday. That type of waiting increases our anticipation, longing and hope.
There’s the waiting that tries our patience like queues, delays, interruptions (and wayward cows, if you're a farmer).
And then there’s the really tough one … the agonising wait to know if I got the job … for the medical results I fear won’t be good news ... to find a life partner or to hope that this month I might be pregnant after so many disappointments.
My first pregnancy was a breeze, almost textbook. My second was a very different story … month after month of heartache and disappointment waiting to fall pregnant. One night after yet another disappointment I did what I always do when I’m sad or stressed, I did the ironing. I ironed the laundry basket empty, tears streaming down my face over every shirt, tablecloth and pillowcase. Eventually, exhausted, I crashed into bed and slept until the early hours of the morning when I was awakened by the smell of smoke. The whole laundry was ablaze. Distracted by pain I had forgotten to switch off the iron.
Recently I watched my friend dying; dying one of those deaths we all hope won’t be our lot. I sat beside her week after week and month after month as she faded slowly into a mere shadow of her former self. She was weak and weary and longed to go and be with Jesus but the journey of death was agonisingly slow. It was painful to watch, and each visit took determination knowing my heart would break all over again.
I pondered a lot about how we are changed in the waiting?
I learned that waiting invites me to face the reality of my own helplessness. When that deep gnawing demand for control that we all know so well comes up against a situation over which I have no control at all.
Waiting allows me the space to grow that still axis within myself that is comfortable with helplessness; that allows me to resign my demands for control and accept waiting as a gift.
And having got my attention, waiting enlarges me … it grows my patience, increase my mental and emotional strength and endurance ... it slows me down to remind me what's important in this moment, in this day.
I wonder if the times of waiting may actually be the most valuable parts of life.
I can’t make the checkout person work any faster, I can’t turn the traffic lights from red to green, I’m unable to make Centrelink answer my call any quicker and I definitely can’t stop the march of cancer. But I can accept the invitation that is being handed to me and learn the lessons waiting has to teach.