Wait. verb. Except verbs imply action, and waiting seems to be the opposite of an ction. As clarified by Dictionary.com, waiting is “To remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens.”
Last week, we in the Northern Hemisphere celebrated spring. The daffodils bloomed, the birds chirped from the budding tree branches, and the lake lapped happily against the grassy shoreline.
Ha. Not in this state.
Here in Minnesota, there is still snow outside my window. It’s creeping away by inches, but still it lingers. The sky threatens to dump more on us on gray days. My spring jacket hangs empty in the closet, waiting for a day when unmittened hands won’t fall off before I get to morning class. The birds are singing on barren branches, the tired bark colorless. The afternoon sun is warm through the window in the afternoon, though it doesn’t cut through the chilly wind outside.
Waiting through the slow arrival of spring after this ridiculous winter is killing me.
I’m entertaining visions of legit warm weather, of feeling grass on bare toes and diving beneath lake water and revealing freakishly pale arms and legs to the sun. I’m hankering for a run through the park, the leaf shadows shifting across the path and the sounds of my gasping lost in the breeze. I can almost taste these moments as winter slowly releases its chokehold on Minnesota. But they aren’t quite here yet. And all of this waiting, after I’ve had it up to my frostbitten ears with snow and cold weather and being constantly freezing, makes me cranky.
If you can’t tell, I’m not an especially patient person. This is true of more than weather.
For example, some highlights of the average day’s impatience:
- 10:29 a.m. – Strategize when to go to the campus coffee shop so I don’t have to wait in the between-class madness
- 12:00 p.m. – Sigh loudly and drum fingers on desk when the computer at work takes longer than 43 seconds to load
- 3:00 p.m. – Poke abs expectantly, hoping they’ll be dramatically firmer after approximately 3 workouts
- 6:00 p.m. – Bemoan the wimpy burners in the dorm kitchens and that it takes 8 minutes to boil a pot of water
- 8:00 p.m. – Hope that a 20-page reading will take 5 minutes so I can check Facebook (again)
- 11:30 p.m. – Pray for healing and imagine that in the morning, scars will be magically erased and life will be totally swell
Add approximately 247 more episodes to this, and you have a day in the life. I am a girl who wants instant fixes, instant results, and instant answers.
Life doesn’t generally work like that.
Apparently God doesn’t either.
What madness is this?
I don’t want anyone to make me wait. Waiting sucks. When I tell God to make Thing X hurry up and happen or transform my heart in Way Y and he doesn’t seem to be paying attention, I get angsty and fill my journal with woe. I remember verses like “Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord,” (Psalm 27:14). On the few days when I feel patient, these are solid and comforting. On the other 361 days per year, I roll my eyes because that sounds like a lot of work and heartache for something that seems so uncertain.
In all of my impatience, I’m clearly missing something. Perhaps it’s trust. Psalm 27:13, which leads up to the “wait for the Lord” verse says, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I forget this promise approximately once every twenty minutes. I think that God is as flaky as I am and has possibly forgotten what he promises. My definition of goodness gets wonky, and I forget that discomfort and minor trauma now may give way to good later. When the very obvious evidence that God is working does not appear, I freak out and think that he’s skipped my name on the list of prayers to answer and that I’m on my own and must make everything happen for myself.
Let’s all be thankful that this is my convoluted mind talking, rather the reality of how God works.
Here’s the truth: God listens me. He cares about what I have to say. He wants good things for me. He knows what those good things are, even better than I do. Making me wait does not show his punishment or negligence or spite. It shows that he knows something I don’t.
I could probably have recited these truths about God when I was five, but they still haven’t sank unforgettably into the fabric of my soul. I don’t know how to get truth down to my moody heart, which watches the seconds tick and taps its foot waiting for action. It urges me to do something, to be brave and step out and make things happen. But sometimes the bravest thing to do is to wait, to watch slow unfolding change that has nothing to do with my hustle and everything to do with God’s work.
I’m still waiting for this mindset. But I’ve heard that God is faithful. If he can bring spring to this Arctic tundra, maybe he can quietly flood my heart with a measure of patience and trust that I could never muster up on my own.
I just hope he gives it to me soon.