The secret to waiting

by Kristin on December 12, 2011

in Belief, doubt & hope

I had a light bulb moment today while I was taking a walk: Gratitude and waiting are intricately interwoven.

Maybe this is a connection that most of you already innately understand, but for me it was brand new. I’ve written about each concept enough on its own—gratitude and waiting—to almost start feeling a bit yeah, yeah, whatever about them, but together they made something wholly new and complete (sort of like that dark chocolate-and-salt combo I wrote about recently).

Of course, this realization couldn’t just settle on me gently, like a nudge or a caress. It had to hit me the hard way, arriving only after I’d spent a good ten days feeling not at all patient or grateful.

As far as pity parties go, it was impressive—one of the best (ie: worst) I’ve had since meeting Jason six years ago. It was epic not only in its length, but also in its ridiculous claims. Jason was out of town for a whole week, then he came home and spent the next several days sick on the couch. Poor me, right? Some of the personal writing projects I finally had time to work on weren’t going as I had hoped. Poor me. Our house was too small/cramped/messy and in disrepair, and it just isn’t the right time, financially, to move to a bigger place or add onto our home. Poor me.

I’m going to save you the trouble and come right out and claim how ridiculous all of that self pity was. After all, Jason’s work trip represents that he actually has work after seven months spent unemployed. Jason’s safe return home—even if it was straight to the sofa—means that I have a wonderful husband to love and miss and care for. The same goes for our lovely home—it may not be perfect, but it is cozy and filled with sunlight and memories and laughter. Most of all it’s ours.

Gratitude is all about now

Which brings me back to that connection between gratitude and waiting. When I was not in a “waiting mood,” I was completely focused on some fuzzy point in my future. I was tired of waiting for Jason to come home, and then tired of waiting for him to feel better so we could do all the fun and practical things I wanted us to do. I was tired of waiting for the “right moment” to sell our house and the “right opportunity” to find something that better suits our needs. I was tired of waiting to get our Christmas tree, tired of waiting to get that toilet problem fixed, tired of waiting for news that might not even come. I didn’t like my now, so I cobbled together a rickety escape route, mentally launching myself out of my annoying present, into…well into a future that I could only hope would be something other.

These last few days, as I gradually straightened out my attitude and began seeing again so much in my life to be grateful for, it hit me: When I am grateful, I’m able to wait. I’m able to wait, because I’m able to see the present in a new light—a light that makes being right here, in this moment, with these blessings (and yes, these annoyances, too) a gift. Seems like a pretty important Advent lesson for me to grasp.

What are you waiting for? What are you grateful for? Does the gratitude change the nature of your waiting?

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  • HopefulLeigh

    Yes! I have learned this lesson in tangible ways this past year. When I focus on what I want and don’t have and how I don’t know when it’ll happen if ever (marriage, family, book contract, trip to Europe, etc.), it’s frightfully easy to complain and overlook the daily blessings. But when I choose to count the gifts each day, I find I can handle even the worst that life throws at me because I know God will use even that. It doesn’t make the bad stuff better and it doesn’t always make the waiting easier. However, my attitude is worlds better and I come to see that there is purpose in waiting.

  • Jennifer

    “I cobbled together a rickety escape route, mentally launching myself out of my annoying present, into…well into a future that I could only hope would be something other.” Brilliant.

    It’s the never ending circle: I will be happy WHEN this happens and IF this goes exactly as I imagine.

    This is where I am. Right here. Right now. I have two choices. Live in it with its mess and glory or wish it away (which doesn’t even work!). Well said, my friend.

  • Preston

    I always get caught on those future “fuzy points.” As always, thanks for sharing the journey, friend.

  • Tamara Lunardo

    “I didn’t like my now, so I cobbled together a rickety escape route, mentally launching myself out of my annoying present, into…well into a future that I could only hope would be something other.” I am too often guilty of this. And it leads nowhere good, ever. Thank you for your grace-filled reminder.

  • Kristin T.

    HopefulLeigh, yes! “…there is purpose in waiting.” It really helps to know that our various struggles—whether active or passive, internal or external—are not in vain.

    Jennifer, it is a never-ending cycle, isn’t it? We’ve lived enough life to know and recognize it, and yet we so easily get sucked back into its vortex. Maybe the best way to avoid the pull is to do what you said: Live in [this moment] with its mess and glory.”

    Preston, I guess we’re attracted to the future fuzzy points because we if we squint hard enough we can convince ourselves they look the way we want them to. I’m glad you’re joining me in trying to truly see the life that’s right in front of us.

    Tamara, you’re right—I can’t think of a single instance when getting too far ahead of my life has been a good idea. Luckily, God can work even in those messes, but I’m still going to do my best to avoid those messes moving forward. :)