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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Waiting Again?

Waiting can seem endless.
Like life is flying by for everyone.
But me.
When will my turn come?
Will things change for the better?

Ever been there?
If you’re like me, you've experienced the waiting season many times.

Waiting can be so hard. But hope keeps us watching for something good.

Maybe the house will sell this week.
I might get that job I applied for.
My acceptance letter could come soon.
Tomorrow, I'll feel better.

Do you count the days until you're going on a trip or to a special event?

I do. But there are times when we don't know how long it will take for something we're waiting for to happen.

I waited a whole year for my house to sell. We'd spent several months remodeling, and then we moved out at the end of last summer, thinking it would sell right away. But after six weeks and the place didn't sell, we moved back in, feeling a little defeated. Had we made the wrong choice in trying to sell? Did we jump the gun on God's plan for us? We didn't know the answers. So we spent the winter and spring and summer in our country home--that was quite nice since it was freshly painted and beautiful--allowing it to be shown in all the seasons, but not knowing if it would actually sell. It required special financing, so the right person had to come along. Would that happen?

We kept praying. And waiting. And I wrote a book. :)

Finally, toward the end of this summer, the house sold. Hallelujah! Our waiting time was over. Then we had a lot to accomplish to get everything out of the house again and to do the final cleaning. It was comical because the next weeks went by really fast. Time is like that. When we're hyper-focused on what's not happening and we're stuck in the waiting season, everything seems to take a long time. Then zoom. We're on the fast track, and we can't believe how quickly the days go by.

But, oh, those waiting times ...

Remember when you were a kid waiting for summer break? Then, later, did you tire of summer and get super excited for school to start? Then, did you turn around and count the days until Christmas?

Or have you waited for a highly-anticipated event, like a wedding or for a baby to be born? Those months can seem like forever.

Or, perhaps, you're in a waiting season now.

Maybe you're waiting for someone to return from military service.
Or for the grandchildren to visit.
Or to take a long-awaited trip.
Or you're waiting for a job.
Or for a healing or a personal need to be met.

Life has many waiting seasons.
Does this particular season seem to be taking forever?
If so, I totally empathize with you.

And while I admit to being a less-than-successful waiter at times, here are a few practical ideas that have helped me during my seasons of waiting. 
Try to stay busy. Start a project or hobby. Paint a picture (or the house). Do puzzles. Write a book. Time really does seem to go by faster when you're busy.

Visit with friends. Don't become a hermit, which is my tendency. Get out and have coffee and a nice chat with a friend as often as possible. Sharing your struggles with someone who understands helps. As does hearing about someone else's life, which can make our own problems, or waiting time, not seem quite as bad.

Laugh. (Snicker, giggle, guffaw.) Become childlike. Sometimes I take myself and what's happening around me way too seriously. Laughter is medicinal. Tell stories and laugh. Watch a funny movie. Really belly laugh. Life is beautiful. And honestly, even though it may not seem like it right now, life is passing by fast. Let's look for ways to enjoy it.

Read. Take an adventure through reading. A waiting season is a great time to visit the library and get a stack of books, or download books on your kindle, and experience life in someone else's shoes.

Maybe you've always been interested in treasure hunting. Now is the perfect time to read books on that topic. Maybe you've wanted to learn knitting. Grab a how-to book--and a skein of yarn and needles. No better time to learn than now!

Walk. Get a step counting app and see the world around you by walking and keeping track of your steps. Have a competitive friend or spouse? Make a race of it to see who can do the most steps in a week or month. Winner buys dinner or coffee?

Pray. Hope. Believe good is on the way. Because surely it is. Also, pray for others. Being concerned about others helps us get our mind off of our woes.

I confess that I've struggled with my waiting times. Why doesn't God answer sooner? Did I sin and that's keeping Him from resolving my dilemma? Did I miss the boat? Depression and low self-esteem can sneak in and rob my joy way too easily.

But it seems to me that waiting is a kind of testing ground of personal struggle that builds something good and strong in us. Like this verse says: "We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Rom 5:3-4) Waiting can be a form of suffering, that builds strength, which builds character, and we can learn from that process, if only we are willing.

A friend of ours would say, "What is God trying to say to you in this situation?" 

Which makes me sit back and ponder, is God teaching me something through my waiting? Do I need more character building? Um, probably so. But it can be such a painful process.

Lastly, looking for the good in a situation, and being thankful, can be a powerful stepping stone to hope. Jason and I realized we were extremely thankful for a warm house during the winter. We got the chance to say goodbye to a home that had been the last place we lived in with our four kids. It seemed we needed the sentimental time of letting go. God knows our hearts and what we need, sometimes even when we don't realize it ourselves.

If you are in a waiting time right now, I pray that you find peace and joy right in the middle of the struggle. And that you will see how hope can overcome discouragement--even in a waiting season.

And don't forget, something good may be just around the corner.

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