Sometimes it feels like I have spent over half of my life waiting. When I was younger, I waited for birthdays, vacations, my favorite show to come on tv, sleepovers, or Santa. As I got older I waited for grades to be posted, football games, movie premieres, and college acceptance letters.
More recently I have waited for job positions, doctor appointments, the end of a long
I have waited and watched as others my age have married, started families, built homes, and done the things I dream of doing one day. I wait. And I wonder. When will it be my turn?
At some point in the midst of waiting, I realized something about this seemingly empty span of time. I was wasting it. And I didn’t want to. As most people probably already know, you never know how long the wait can be, and what I know now is that something can be learned in the wait. How we use those long or short spans of time helps to strengthen or weaken our character. In a sense, it helps define who we are.
I started to purposefully and intentionally pay attention to my thoughts and actions anytime I had to wait for something – no matter how small or insignificant it seemed. In line at the grocery store, on hold with customer service, watching the cookies in the oven, waiting to see the doctor, etc. I checked myself. What was I thinking about? What was my attitude?
I took note of my responses and reactions during these small moments of waiting. I am ashamed to say that, at first, they were not pretty or kind. When I saw others get what I was waiting for, I was sometimes angry and jealous. When things would take longer than I thought it should, I was impatient and judgmental. When looking for answers as to why I had to wait, I tore myself apart in the mirror. I questioned my worth, my value, my capabilities. I doubted and questioned God. I wasted time with self-pity and worry and anxiety. Then I wondered, how did I get this way? And, more importantly, how can I change it?
My biggest revelation was this: I did not have a waiting problem. I had a heart problem.
The worst part was, I taught myself to be this way. I know to some this may seem obvious, but habits (especially negative ones) sometimes sneak up on you. Something happens, and you respond in a certain way, coping in the only way you know how.
The next time that same thing happens, you remember what made you feel better the last time (even if it was temporary relief), and you respond accordingly. Habits are a powerful thing, and the habits I had created to respond to the waiting were destructive. The good thing is, habits can be changed.
Changing a habit takes effort and discipline. Essentially, it requires a new way of living, a rewiring of the brain. It requires a replacement of old default responses with new ones.
I wanted new ways to respond to waiting. I wanted to use that space and time for growth to become a better version of myself instead of living in those moments miserable and discouraged. A few things I needed to get through this rewiring process included:
Memorizing scripture. When negative thoughts start to creep in, reciting truths from God’s word changes my perspective and allows me to look at situations from a different view point. “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 129:1
Gratitude. Instead of focusing on time and the wait and what I don’t have yet, I focus on the things I am grateful for, and I name those things aloud. No matter how great or small, I verbalize these things, and I am quickly reminded of how much I DO have.
Purpose. I am not sure how long I will be waiting to be a wife and a mom, but I do know that I don’t want to spend my time focusing on what I don’t have and missing everything else. My life will not begin when I get the things I pray for. My life is here. Right now. It may not have a husband or children, but it does include supportive and loving family, friends, co-workers, and students. My life has purpose and meaning, and I do not want to miss what God has for me right here and right now.
What I have learned in my lifetime is that it seems we are all in the middle of waiting for something. What are you waiting for? Who are you in the wait? How are you using that time?
As for me, I am still waiting on marriage, but as I continue to practice scripture, gratitude, and remaining focused on my purpose, I will heed the advice of a pastor’s wife. I will run this race of life chasing after Christ. When someone runs alongside me, then, I will introduce myself.