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?