Updated: Oct 30, 2019
It’s the season of advent, which literally means "arrival."
It’s all about the fact that hope is coming in the form of a baby who burps and giggles and will one day save. We are going through a book in my community group called “Watch for the Light.” It’s a collection of essays about the coming of Christ, and the chapter we read out loud in a circle was about waiting and the importance it plays in our lives.
The author, Henri Nouwen, talks about how waiting on God is not a passive activity. It’s not the kind of waiting we do in the doctor’s office when we’re twiddling our thumbs and flipping through the latest People magazine. It’s not the sit on our couch, watch Netflix and eat popcorn waiting.
He talked about active waiting. It's the kind of waiting you do after you sign up for a marathon. The kind of waiting that fuels you to lace up your running shoes and prepare for the big day. If you sit on a couch every day before a marathon, you’re going to get wrecked.
We have to prepare. We have to show up and be active. That’s the kind of waiting we are called to. We are called to wait in hopeful expectation of what is to come.
We were discussing the idea of “waiting” in group when I piped up and declared that we should get rid of the word all together. “Are we ever really waiting?” I said. We should remove the term from our language, I proclaimed. Instead we should use words like “resting, preparing, expecting.”
But, not waiting. Never waiting. Why wait?
This is a pretty funny thought process coming from me, the girl who told my orthodontist to leave my braces on for another month in eighth grade just to make sure my teeth were as straight as possible.
I was fine waiting then.
The girl who waited 31 years to be in a relationship. That’s right. I waited 31 years for the right person to sit across from me, smile, and say “you look familiar.” Fast forward one month later to a couch in Ashley’s furniture when he asked me to be his girlfriend and I said “YES!”
He was worth waiting for.
So, why do I have such an abhorrence to the word “wait”? Because the truth is that I’m good at waiting for the things that I have surrendered to God and the things I know are beyond my control. I’m not good at waiting on things that I think are mine to win or lose or take.
I’m not good at waiting in the grocery store line. Behind slow drivers. For my morning coffee at Starbucks. For my morning runs to get easier. For Friday to come. I’m not good at waiting for it to finally feel cold during our Southern California winters.
I much rather say that I am hoping or praying or expecting or preparing than the horrible idea of just sitting and “waiting.”
Problem is, this life is full of waiting. We plant seeds and wait for growth. Couples get pregnant and wait nine months to meet their little one. We pop cookie dough in the oven and wait 8 minutes for our cookies to be ready.
Our world is filled with delayed gratification, so how do we make peace with this concept?
I think we come to terms with the fact that waiting is a necessary part of the process, and we can choose to be couch potatoes or marathon runners. We can choose how well we wait. According to Henri Nouwen, "The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun." The part of waiting that all of us miss when we're knee deep in the uncertainty of what is going to happen next is the very nature of waiting means that there is something worth waiting for.