Sunday, September 26, 2010

The lost art of waiting

Is it just me or is waiting a lost art?

I often am telling my teenage son he needs to practice the art of doing nothing. If I ask him to get ready to go but he feels we will not walk out the door the second his coat is on he will go back to whatever he was doing. With facebook and computer games stimulating his senses at every turn he can’t fathom why he would just stand by the door and watch me swirling around the house turning off all the lights, tvs and radios, gathering all the last minute snacks, books or papers we need for wherever we are going.  Me waiting on him would be just fine but he cannot understand why he has to wait on me.

Yesterday as I stood outside our home waiting with my daughter for her bus to come I found myself trying to figure out how to get out of this daily activity. Can I send my 5 year old out to stand at a busy corner by herself? Can I figure out the timing of this bus so that we are walking out the door as it pulls up? What a waste of my precious time to spend 3 minutes each morning standing on the sidewalk waiting for a bus!

And then it hit me how much I was like my son. And what a lost art waiting has become.

Have you ever noticed how much fuller the church seems at the end of the service than it does at the beginning? Or is that just my church? If the service starts at 10am you don’t want to arrive a moment before and have to wait, better to arrive a few minutes late than sit in the pew in silence a few minutes before the service.

Not that waiting has become a thing of the past. Today I waited for the school bus, for my turn at the DMV to transfer a car title and at the post office to mail a package all before 10am. We wait in line at the store, wait on the phone on hold, wait for email responses, test results and more. I try to be patient but the truth is that I often wait impatiently.

But there are a lot of things we don’t wait for anymore. The big one that comes to mind in the current economy is we don’t wait until we have the money to buy something, we charge it. People don’t wait until they are married to have sex anymore. And married people aren’t willing to wait through the process of healing a hurt marriage but instead just end it. We want instantaneous result which we think will bring us happiness. And when it doesn’t we immediately go on to something else assuming it was the thing and not the process that was the problem.

Why can’t waiting be part of the journey of life. Why can’t we enjoy the anticipation of an upcoming event?

The partner to waiting seems to be patience. I cannot begin to count the times I have told my daughter to “be patient”. We are an impatient society, quick to get upset when things don’t go as we planned them.

I have often found myself waiting on God and his plans. Sometimes patiently sometimes not so patiently. Whether I enjoy the process or not God doesn’t seemed to be phased and continues on with his plans.

Life is a journey, a process, a marathon, pick your analogy. It doesn’t happen in a moment it happens over a period of time. And just as I said of marriage I also say of life. It is in the little details over time rather than the big events that life happens.  While waiting for the next thing we experience the growth and joy we are really looking for.

Growth happens as we wait our turn. It can be a time of introspection as I really examine what I want, really listen to what God is telling me and really learn. Waiting is an opportunity to stop and see what is going on around me. See the old woman who needs help unloading her groceries from the cart, enjoying the beautiful weather as I wait for my son to finish work, and value the time I can spend with my daughter each morning standing on the sidewalk.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Ps 27:14

No comments:

Post a Comment