Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Surviving the Wait

Working Title: A (Hopefully) Handy Guide for Surviving Long, Drawn Out Periods of Waiting that May Never End from Someone Who Hates to Wait so Much as Thirty Seconds for a Stop Light to Change. And Also Some Helpful Thoughts from Other People that May Be More Patient than I.

I had to change the final title.  My English professors were harsh, and the working title would have seen a whole lotta red ink.  (Because I'm so old, I went to school when ink pens were used on a regular basis, even more than printers.)  However, let's not show them my blog posts, eh?  I'm not going to even pretend that I use half the knowledge they so diligently drilled into me. (Though I appreciate the knowledge I have, because I know plenty of people that never learned their own language very well.-- But could someone please tell me again the proper use of lie and lay?  I think I finally have it down that people lie down and things lay, but then I get all confused with the tenses: laid, lain, lay... I don't know!)

Wait, what was this post about?

Right.  A few things that I have learned in waiting.  I can only tell you what works for me.  I can't promise that will be helpful for anyone else.  Take whatever works for you, and ignore the rest.

1) Emotion and attitude are not the same thing.  Emotions are what they are.  You can deal with them, accept them, fight them, roll with them, but you cannot choose them.  Attitudes, on the other hand, are a choice. Don't confuse the two.  I have been both angry and bitter, both happy and joyful.  I haven't chosen the anger or the happiness, but I have chosen both joy and bitterness.

2) Accept that waiting hurts.  Because it does.  Accept that suffering is okay. Because it is.  

Don't get me wrong, it's not fun, and it's hard. We can't do it alone, ever.  But the point I'm trying to make is that suffering is not the worst evil.  We spend so much time miserable because we're suffering, or miserable because we're trying to figure out how to avoid suffering.  Those few times that I have been able to accept it have been far better than the many times that I have tried to figure out how much time suffering I had left and when will it flipping be over?!  Jen Fulwiler has had some great posts on suffering, and this one may not be her best written one, but it has a lot of great thoughts and links.

3) Realize that there is, in fact, a plan.  I have often thought of wanting to be the clay in the potter's hands, but I've never said it as well as it was said here. I really don't know why my life has needed to go as it has to shape me in this way.  But in the end, I do want to be shaped into whatever He wants, even if it's different than I expected.

4) One of the toughest ones for me is to be happy where I am, rather than comparing myself to where everyone else is. I still want to experience what everyone else has gotten to experience, and what I have wanted to experience for years.  But I also need to be thankful for the good things about the way my life is.

5) Offer it up. Seriously, I just rolled my eyes writing that because I heard it so many times growing up, and I hated it every time.  But it is so true.  The pain can become a prayer.  And there is a certain amount of joy in that prayer, primarily because there is purpose in it.

6) When all else fails, find a good book or a good TV show and get lost in it.  Don't worry about it if you can't be as present for a couple days or a couple weeks (though if it goes much past that, it may be time to find some help).  It's okay if you can't go out with friends, read or write blogs as much, or if you can't be on fb, or if you can't find the emotional energy to be in touch with everyone.  Like I said, I don't think it's a healthy place to stay in for very long, but I think sometimes you need the distance.

7) If you're Catholic, sacraments.  That's all I have to say about that, Jack.  If you feel like going, go.  If you don't feel like going, go.  If you don't have an opinion, go.  If you get wonderful feelings from it, go.  If you hate going, go. If you feel dead inside, go.  Just go. Same deal with prayer.

Okay, that's all I have for the moment.  Anyone else have anything that helps them get through the waiting or the tough times?  Feel free to share!


  1. I love #7. When I embraced that, everything, even in the darkest, hardest times, seemed easier than before.

    This is a great list - one I'm sure I will revisit often, as I too get annoyed at stop lights, and those are guaranteed to change!

  2. WOW!!! Wonderful, brilliant list!!! I *LOVE* #1! I hadn't thought of it that way before. And I love #2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7!
    I needed to read this a long time ago. I could have waited better.

  3. #1 is fabulous!! #2 is awesome as well - whenever I'm struggling with waiting I try to think of Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus and unite my struggles to hers; it couldn't have been easy to be in her situation and waiting for a child that everyone else believed to be out of wedlock!

  4. Awesome list!!!! All ring so true to the difficult time of waiting...

  5. What a wonderful list!
    I especially love #4. It reminded me of my tendency to feel unhappy when I don't get to where I want to be in my desired time. But with God's grace I am becoming more and more appreciative of all the all the things that are going on in my life on a daily basis--delays, missed opportunities and mistakes. We have an amazing God who sees beyond what we see and knows exactly what's right for us. As one quote puts it, "God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and it takes a lot of faith. but it’s worth the wait."

  6. Number 1 could be applied to just about anything, if you think about it. I love that thought, that attitude and emotion are two different things. How often do we beat ourselves up for having an emotion, which can't really be helped, instead of focusing on choosing an attitude to cope with it? ALL the time, in my case!

  7. so much wisdom. thankful for you, friend. love love love