We don’t like to wait.
I’ve heard that, specifically, Americans don’t like to wait! This is something my husband and I even noticed about ourselves while traveling in Europe this summer! Our human attitude is to fix the wait, not to accept it. A long line? Let’s see if there’s a way to expedite it. A lengthy subway ride? Perhaps next time we’ll try out all kinds of shortcuts to make it more efficient.
Bjorn and I have talked about this with some of my relatives, too, who have traveled abroad in England. They also noticed how demanding we Americans can be when it comes to our own desired time table.
The “But I Want It Now” Mindset
“American” stereotypes aside, and regardless of which country we call home, I believe there’s some of that antsy character trait in each of us as humans. It’s part of our human struggle.
We want to know, we want to control — and we want what we want now. (The consumer world plays on this tendency in us all the time: Want a cleaner carpet? This special spray will do it in just 90 seconds! No more waiting around for 5 whole minutes!)
Have you spent time with toddlers or little kids recently? Dedicate an afternoon to time with little ones and you’ll realize quickly just how innately impatient we are as humans. Sometimes I imagine we all have a little temper tantrum-er inside us screaming about snack time (or anything else, for that matter): “But I want it NOW!”
Temper tantrums aside, it can be totally good and okay and even growth-bringing to want to strive for something. Having a goal to work towards is a very powerful force! Improving oneself (in healthy ways) isn’t something to shy away from. And progress is usually a good thing that’s applauded. So this post isn’t about how moving forward is “bad” at all – it is about a gratitude-filled, God-trusting approach to where you’re at right now!
Stop Wishing Life Away
You know what? So many seasons of life could be considered a season of transition (or waiting, depending on your wording). There is often something new around the corner. This makes sense, as life events continue to happen as time continues to stroll on. But if you live your life always feeling like you’re waiting for the next best thing, then you will always be waiting and you’ll never be happy where you are. You’ll never reach the destination of contentment if you don’t find joy where you’re at.
Not to mention, you’ll lose sight of the beautiful moment you’re currently in! (If the current moment’s not-so-beautiful, then check out the 8th strategy below – I’ve definitely had to do that one.)
If we learn how to handle a season of waiting in a God-honoring, God-and-not-us-focused way, then we’ll be able to ride the waves of life with a much more stable, joy-filled perspective.
How to Thrive During a Season of Waiting:
1 // Plan, but then stop planning. Think hard when you need to. Make the list or the phone call or do the research you need to do to get the ball rolling on this thing you’re striving towards, but then stop thinking about it. Take a break. Go outside. Relax. Have yourself a good old laugh. Do something totally different for a change. It’s not healthy to obsess over the what-if’s. Sometimes you can gain better perspective by stepping away for a bit.
2 // Cover the situation with prayer. Just a simple quiet prayer time time built into my schedule has made a big difference in how I approach my days. Take the time to lay your problems before God in the morning; they’re too heavy for you to lug around all day. And pray for joy! Pray that you would notice the ways that you are blessed and growing in this season.
3 // Resist what our culture says about waiting. Which is, “You don’t have to wait!” Instant gratification has leaked messily into our daily lives. Our culture tells us that we can buy or get instant results for everything we want right now! Push that aside with Christ’s help if you are finding yourself negatively affected by the instant gratification around you. Sometimes, “right now” is not the plan God has for you.
4 // Do not, do not, do not compare. “Live your own life. Walk your own path. Be your own person. Don’t compare the beginning of your story to someone else’s middle.” There are tons of cliches to cover this, yet we all play the comparison game anyway. We’ve got to crawl out of this pit. You are a different person from that Facebook friend who’s accomplishing all those things – you have different God-given talents, ambitions, dreams, and a unique corner of the world you are privileged to live in. You are meant to be different. Live the life God has called you to live – since it’s a lot harder to try to live the life God has called someone else to live. 😉
*Social media side note: if you’re finding that every time you log onto social media, you’re hit by comparison and discouragement, then you may need to take a break. Think back to the original goals of social media: to connect with friends and loved ones. Use social media to do just that, not to surf the web “stalking” people to compare yourself with. Try to scale back on the number of times a day or week you check Facebook or Instagram (or whatever is making you sad), and if that doesn’t help, consider something a bit more extreme – like logging off till the end of the month. Life is too short for us to lessen our quality of life by sitting on social media and comparing.
5 // Let go of the things God whispers “not now” to. Maybe the dream doesn’t need to be destroyed, but just gently set aside until later. Perhaps God is calling you to focus on what you have right in front of you!
6 // Live within today’s boundary lines. We are not meant to know all there is to come, right now! We aren’t meant wake up in the morning, peer 2 years down the road, get super overwhelmed, and collapse back into bed! God created us to live within 24-hour increments. His grace is enough for you today. Serve Him with all that you are today, and then wake up tomorrow with fresh energy and a heart to accept his grace and strength for the next day. Living moment by moment forces us to daily rely on God! And the intimacy of daily relying on Him is a beautiful facet to our relationship with God.
7 // Stop complaining. I’d like to say there’s a real trend towards complaining right now, but honestly, it’s always been around! It’s just that now days, complaining can take forms beyond just sitting with friends and griping about life; it can extend to social media and other public areas. It can be funny to make little comments about the silly inconveniences of life, but when it becomes habitual, that’s when it becomes dangerous.
It’s not for us to complain about the current season that God has us in. I’ve done that. I’ve tried it. I’ve allowed myself to get eaten up with bitterness and I’ve stirred up discontentment in myself until I became angry and down. And it really got me nowhere. I’m currently emerging from what was a difficult season for me in the past year, and I’m finding that this whole climbing-out-of-it business takes determination and a daily choice to be okay in the waiting and in my current circumstances. I know I need to be extremely intentional about choosing not to complain.
I’ve been struck lately by how much complaining and gratitude are intertwined!! When I am not practicing gratitude, I am more prone to griping about where I’m at or what I’m dealing with in life. On the flip side, if I take a minute to thank God for things in my life, I find that my desire to complain quickly melts away.
Holy joy lies in the habit of murmuring thanks to God for the smallest of graces. – Ann Voskamp
So try this today: if you feel bitterness or the desire to complain rising up in you today, stop. Take one minute and pray, listing 10 things you are grateful for and thanking God for those. Even if they’re “the smallest of graces,” as Ann’s quote says. You’ll be surprised at the difference it’ll make. Gratitude takes an intentional attitude-swap, but it is so worth it!
8 // Accept the strengthening and toning of your character in this season. Make note of the positives you are beginning to see in yourself. In fact, even write them down! A really interesting exercise is to list the big, significant (and often difficult) circumstances you’ve gone through in life, and then off to the side, write what God taught you in that situation. It’s surprising and encouraging to reflect on the beautiful sanctification process God leads us through!
So, friends… Are you finding yourself in a season of waiting right now? How have you learned and struggled and grown through the wait? How has God taught and strengthened you in past seasons of transition?