“I hate to wait.” One of my favorite lines from The Princess Bride! I can see the character, Inigo Montoya, pacing back and forth at the top of the cliff waiting for the Man in Black to finish climbing up the sheer cliff face so Inigo can kill him. Not a reason I’d rush! While this scene is funny in the movie (if you haven’t seen it please do), when I realize I’m behaving this way in my life, it’s not so funny. I’m not a clever scriptwriter coming up with quirky or snappy comebacks. I’m a real person dealing with real issues in my real ordinary life. Yet, often, I have to admit, “I hate to wait.”
There is a certain grace in waiting, a certain finesse that must be developed. It’s not something you are born with; it is learned and practiced and never fully refined. How many times a day do you tell your children, “be patient,” or “you have to wait for a moment while I finish”?
Impatience is natural; waiting takes maturity, practice, and grace.
I remember one day in particular when we were waiting for some friends from out of town to arrive. Our daughter was overly excited because they had a daughter close to her age. I think that may have been one of the longest days of her short life. It seemed like every 5 minutes, she would run to the window and then to me to ask when they would get here. Talk about a long day! We worked a lot on patience that day and finding distractions. But what happens when your plans suddenly get derailed? What if you have to totally let go of that dream for now? What if the waiting has no deadline and is out of your control?
It is during these times of waiting, the ones where you have no control over the time when I believe we learn the grace in waiting.
- Grace in waiting builds character. When circumstances of our waiting are out of our immediate sphere of influence, we have two choices: patience or anxiousness. Which option you choose impacts every area of your life. But this waiting doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing. It means persevering in the ordinariness of today, putting legs on your prayers.
Hospital waiting rooms are great places to observe the grace of waiting in action. Often these waiting rooms are places of great distress. The outcome is totally out of your control.
- Are you pacing? (anxiousness)
- Are you sitting quietly and perhaps praying? (patience)
- Are you checking the monitors every few moments for an update? (anxiousness)
- Are you staring at the “Staff only beyond this point” door as if your life depended on it? (anxiousness)
- Are you down in the cafeteria getting something to eat or drink? (patience)
- Are you showing concern for others around you? (patience)
Thus a hospital waiting room becomes a microcosm of character building in a time of waiting. Yes, there are proactive, character-building things you can be doing during this time of waiting. “Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” Joyce Meyer
- Grace in waiting builds trust. In order to build the trust muscle, you have to have someone who is worthy of trust and can impact the result of the situation. I believe that someone is God, the Creator of all life. It is in the times of waiting when I bring my concerns to God that my trust in Him and His goodness matures. Stephen Covey refers to this as your “changeless core.” Times of uncertainty and distress challenge my core. When my core is not secure, my trust is shaky. Perhaps the greatest gift you and I have today is in waiting. For it is in this time that you and I have the opportunity to strengthen our core or build it.
- Grace in waiting reveals a process. I don’t believe that I will ever master waiting. It is a lifelong process. But, in that process, I learn:
“Waiting is a great part of life’s discipline and therefore God often exercises the grace of waiting in the anxious hurrying person.” Mrs. Charles. E. Cowman
What are you waiting for today?
It could be as simple as your upcoming vacation. Or, it could be as complex as your prodigal child desiring to renew your relationship. Let’s learn well the grace in waiting and encourage others to do the same along the way. Capture the extra-ordinary in the ordinary today.