When Evan was born and in the hospital, I had a timeline planned out in my head that we would be home by May. On April 20th, when Evan was in the operating room and the doctor came to tell us they stopped the surgery because he wasn’t strong enough yet, I knew that timeline just went straight out the window.
As we asked his doctors when they would be able to try the surgery again, their response each time was that Evan would be the one to show us when was the right time, and we just had to give him time to get stronger.
That feeling of not knowing the timeline was one of the worst feelings of my life.
So, naturally, I made a new timeline. We would certainly be home by Danny’s birthday, right?
I went conservative next and picked Father’s Day…
Ok, end of June…
Fourth of July?
Nope. But close. We went home for the first time on July 5th. Each missed milestone was its own individual, self-inflicted heartbreak.
I know that, right now, as we’re stuck at home in a pandemic that no one knows the end date of, you’re probably feeling similar feelings. I’ve learned 4 big things about waiting. They don’t make the waiting go away, but acknowledging them can make the waiting less painful.
1. Waiting is supposed to be uncomfortable.
One Oxford English Dictionary definition describes waiting as being “eagerly impatient for something to happen.”
The definition in itself speaks to the discomfort involved with waiting. In our society in particular, waiting is something we do less and less of, and, with a smart phone in virtually everyone’s pocket, we have developed a reflex to fill up all of our wait time.
That makes this waiting period we’re currently in even harder.
You’re supposed to feel antsy when you wait. Even if you’re waiting for something you’re dreading, you just want to get it over with.
I don’t say that to make you feel worse. I say that to give you some affirmation that the discomfort you feel is totally natural, and you’re most certainly not alone.
2. We grow when we’re uncomfortable.
I’ll use the exercise analogy you’ve probably heard before. Muscles need to be pushed and have small bits of damage inflicted to them in order to repair themselves and, therefore, get stronger. A muscle that is never pushed beyond its comfort zone will not grow.
The same goes for our minds and spirits. It is often in those uncomfortable times that we learn and grow the most. This discomfort you feel means something is working and changing in you, You could dig your heels in and resist that change with all your might. But, you have the power to shift your attitude so that you can insure the change you’re experiencing is for the better. Either way, the discomfort will be there, but you get to choose the direction that it takes you.
3. Don’t look at waiting as lost time.
Time is our most valuable asset, and waiting can be especially hard in that it makes us feel like time has been lost. If you only take one piece of advice from this article, do not allow yourself to look at this waiting as time that you are losing.
It’s a simple mindset shift, maybe even a bit of a personal mind game. When you focus on what you’re losing, you are steering that change that is happening within you down a negative road. You cannot operate out of a place of lack and expect to come out better. Help yourself come out better.
I’m not saying that you’re not allowed to mourn the things that you are losing during this time. The losses are real, and they’re hard. But, they’re not the only thing you’re experiencing. Even if you have to just focus on one thing that you HAD each day, don’t let your days revolve around what you’re missing.
4. The harder you try to control the clock or calendar, the worse you’ll feel.
This one seems counter-intuitive, because you’ve probably been told to find something to look forward to or to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The problem comes in when your focus is only on that date that you’ve picked. If/when that thing doesn’t come on your timeline, the disappointment feels even worse than the waiting.
It’s kind of like when you order yourself a little something special on Amazon, and you check the mail all day on the day it will come. In the evening, you get an email that your shipment has been delayed. When we do that with milestones in our lives, the stakes feel way higher, and the disappointment feels way stronger.
This past Sunday, my pastor’s service was all about the idea that, maybe, the waiting is the point.
This phrase is everything.
Many times, we see waiting periods as this useless chunk of time that just gets thrown away when we get to the thing we’ve been waiting for.
Please don’t let today be time you throw away when life goes back to “normal.” You were given this day and this one life to live it. Sure, living it looks different when you’re forced to stay away from people and places you love, but that doesn’t mean you can’t LIVE.
Find things you enjoy. Find joy in each day, even in the hard stuff. Find pockets of time where you get to do something you love, even if it is just read a book or scroll your social media feed- without guilt- because it’s fun.
The waiting certainly is uncomfortable, but if you really live out that waiting, it can be worth it.