“Mom, can I open just onnnnnne present?” asked the five year old….for the 484th time…within the same hour.
If you’re a parent or you’ve been around children this time of year, you could recite what came next. “We can’t open the presents until Christmas. We have to wait.”
I have said that line at least a thousand times, but as I said it, I heard it for the first time: We have to wait.
Here I am, frustrated with my daughter, slightly extremely annoyed at her impatience and unwillingness to agree with what I’ve just told over and over, when, many times, I have the exact same attitude when it comes to waiting. I used to hate, hate, hate, loathe, loathe, loathe waiting for anything. Lines at the grocery store. Somehow I always choose the same line as the customer who prefers to write a check. Ohhhh my gosh. I just can’t even and yet, I seem to be like a magnet to them.
Lines at the grocery store are one thing, but then when it comes to the harder things like choosing to pass up a good opportunity because something in my gut said, “Wait.” Or waiting for the right job, when something convenient was at hand. If I’m honest. I didn’t do a good job of this for a good part of my life. I didn’t like to wait, so I just didn’t. I made decisions and blazed my own trail, and if the answer I was sensing in my spirit was, “Wait.” I just went about what I wanted in another way.
There is a quote by Maya Angelou that rings so true for me. She says, “I did then what I knew to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” After a few mistakes and some fairly difficult lessons, I realized that my approach to life and relationships and decisions didn’t make sense and didn’t work unless there was some element of waiting in the equation.
My sweet friends, if I could just offer this little nugget of a life lesson: There is power, life and purpose to the waiting. Some of my most significant moments of personal growth and faith have happened while I’ve been in a season of waiting. Something about the waiting helps you see just what you’re made of.
And, ironically, the undercurrent of this holiday season is waiting.
Whether you’re a child…or an adult, because let’s be honest, we adults want in on those gifts just as much as the kids, waiting to open the presents under the tree. Or you’re celebrating Advent and the time of waiting for Jesus to be born. Or you’re maybe you’ve tied a knot at the end of your rope because 2015 was just not you’re year and you’re waiting for a fresh start, a clean slate and the promise of something new in 2016. Or maybe you’re waiting on that new job, that big break or that final test score.
Here’ something to consider. It was 700 years after a guy named Isaiah told the world that Jesus would be born as the savior they had been waiting for. In the waiting, people back in the day had the same reaction that you and I have in our own waiting: doubt, frustration, anger, sadness, fear. 700 years went by. Some of them never saw the prophesy come to pass, but in the waiting, those same people lived out stories of bravery, courage, faith, perseverance, and hope that are still talked about today. Also in that waiting, God proved Himself faithful, trustworthy, and the able, intentional perfectly-timed orchestrator that He is. And he’s writing a bigger story, a story that spans eternity, not just the length of our lives.
Sometimes it feels like I’m waiting 700 years for things to come to pass in my life. But what I’ve learned is that the waiting is often times necessary for us to be fully prepared for what’s next, and that when I realize that my little life is just part of a larger, more significant story, I’m okay with the timing and the reality of waiting being a part of life.
There are days or weeks when the waiting is hard. It just is. But just like Christmas will come and the presents will get to be opened, just like Jesus was born exactly as the Bible explains that he would be, just like January 1 of a new year will arrive and we can start afresh with another list of resolutions, the seasons of waiting will also come to an end in our lives, and from that time, we will grow stronger, more patient and more comfortable with the waiting.
So, my wish for you this season is that you find hope and promise and peace in the waiting.