I once heard that the difference between waiting and patience was that patience was waiting without wiggling. I’m not patient. I do a lot of wiggling while I’m waiting.
Today, I found out that I will be teaching from home for 5 more weeks, possibly longer. I decided that to avoid becoming a permanent part of my couch, I needed a regular work space. I have an office, but it’s really just a room where I put things that I don’t know where else to put them. I clean it up and it effortlessly becomes a disaster zone again.
I opened the closet, took a deep breathe, and immediately closed the door. I realized if I was taken down by the thought of cleaning out a closet, there was no way the whole room was going to get any attention. I opened the door again and decided to start with one drawer. I found a college mid-term, notebook paper journal entries from 1999, my grade book from teaching in Hungary, pictures of a trip I took to Maine, and an undeveloped roll of black and white film. I can’t even begin to guess what is on that roll.
This afternoon, as I drove down to see my dad, I stopped at Walgreens to have the roll developed. And now I wait to see what’s on it. It’s been two hours and I have to wait at least two weeks, probably longer with the pandemic, but I’m already wiggling.
There are lots of things for which I’ve waited. When I was in middle school, I couldn’t wait to be 17. I thought I would be so mature and all the Molly Ringwald movies I had watched would become my reality. Then I got to high school and realized I didn’t actually have any interest in prom, pep rallies, or the whole high school scene.
So then I couldn’t wait to go to college. The last three months in high school, every night I would look through the brochure of the college I had chosen. It was seriously a brochure, but I read each paragraph and studied each picture like I was seeing it for the first time.
I also waited a year from the time I decided to go to Hungary before actually leaving. I daydreamed daily about what life would be like in an Eastern European country and made plans as I waited tables. I bought cookbooks and tried out recipes. I listened to language tapes. I studied the history and culture.
The month before coming home from Hungary I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t wait to see my family after a year. I would imagine our reunion in the airport and get so excited that a few times I hopped out of bed and called home.
Some of those times of waiting were with patience because I was excited about what was next, but didn’t want my current situations to end. Other times of waiting were with a lot of wiggling because I wanted so badly for the situations I was in to be done. Thinking about you, high school.
I have a few prayers that I’ve been waiting to see answered. Some days I’m patient because I remember that God tells me to pour out my heart to Him and I know that He knows best in all situations. He tells me to keep praying, to do so without ceasing. I know that He can see a situation from all angles and He knows all the details, so I need to cease striving and know that He is God.
Unfortunately, most of the time I wiggle while I wait. I worry. I fret. I try to think of how I can help (i.e., manipulate) the situation to work how I think it should. Some prayers are going on 20 years without an answer and I question if the Lord is hearing me or maybe I don’t really know how to pray or maybe I’m just not hearing or understanding.
Those moments typically bring me back to Truth, to what I know. The Holy Spirit reminds me of who God is and of who I am. He points me to Scripture.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. -Psalms 27:14
We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.- Psalms 33:20
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope. Psalms 130:5
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. – Psalms 130:6
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” Lamentations 3:36
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently Romans 8:25
I guess we all have a lot of waiting to do these days. Waiting for stores to open. Waiting to go out in a crowd. Waiting for the rain to stop. Waiting to see my students. Waiting for the coffee to kick in. Waiting for inspiration and creativity. Waiting for answers to prayers.
I’m going to try to actively practice waiting on these things without wiggling, because I know the Lord. I know He is trustworthy and infinitely more wise than me. Sometimes I just need to give myself little reminders found in His Word.