Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is Oh The Places You’ll Go! Yesterday, as I read it with one of my daughters, I paused when we got to this passage:

“You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across wierdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
of the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.”

As a mom, I wouldn’t generally describe my life as full of waiting. It’s more like full of doing. Things like cleaning, hugging, cooking, reading, disciplining, changing diapers and lots of other “ings.” But not much waiting. So why did this passage cause me to stop and re-read?

Because life as mom often causes life as a woman to wait. And because life in general often causes the life we desire to wait.

For me, it’s not a bus or the mail that I’m waiting for. It’s for an investment to pan out so we can get a bigger home for our family of six. It’s for time to invest in a speaking and writing career that’s been burning in my heart for years. It’s for the school to respond to our request for resources for my daughter who has special needs. And, while we’re at it, it’s for even ONE of the behaviors I teach my puppy to actually stick instead of her running around being a spaz!

Sometimes the waiting leaves me feeling helpless. If it’s a long wait, I start to become numb and even depressed. That was what happened when my husband and I battled infertility for 3 years before we became parents. One thing I’ve discovered through many waits, however, is that depression and futility aren’t God’s ultimate design for waiting.

It’s a common theme in the Bible – the idea of waiting for direction, wisdom, help, and new circumstances. The word “wait” occurs dozens of times in the old and new testaments, and overwhelmingly it’s associated with the idea of waiting on the Lord, regardless of the passage’s theme.

So what’s the point of this frustrating idea of waiting? For me, it’s a challenge to hope. Hope endures expectantly. Endurance with a bad attitude is easy and being hopeful over the short term is easy. But sticking with it over a period of time forces me to drop all the usual thoughts, plans and worries that crowd my mind and choose to listen to the Lord. It’s the least natural instinct for me, a post-feminist era woman with a college education who has always bought in to the “I can do it myself” mantra!

How will this look right now as I wait for the bigger house, the time for a career, and the resources for my daughter? It looks like doing what NEEDS to be done and nothing more in those areas. No obsessing. No incessant strategizing. No being glued to my computer, checking email for responses about new speaking opportunities. Beyond that, I wait for the Lord. I play with my kids. I make dinner for my family. I spend time with friends. I praise God for the ways He’s working in other areas (like a new check out line opening for me when I’m in line at the store with a writhing, crying toddler!) And above all, I believe that what God says is true:

“But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
-Isaiah 40:31 

What about you? How do you handle the waiting times?

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