How to Survive Daily Wait Challenges
Waiting is not my favorite activity—I don’t do it well. How about you? Although we consider it an inconvenience, we spend a major portion of each day waiting.
We wait for everyone to get ready as we leave for work or school. As we drive off in our motor driven vehicles, we wait on traffic: stop signs, traffic lights and other drivers. At work, we wait for coffee breaks, lunch, and quitting time. During the work day, we wait for phone calls and e-mails to be returned, our next meeting and then for these same meetings to be over. Part of running errands is to wait in grocery lines, doctor’s waiting rooms, bank lines, etc. If we don’t stop and wait while picking up dinner through a drive-thru, once home we wait for dinner to be prepared and the kitchen to be cleaned up, then as we wait for bedtime we wait for our favorite T.V. shows to watch. For church-going folk, we wait for Bible study period to end, then worship service to conclude, so we can hurry and wait for lunch so we can get into our Sunday afternoon activities. You get the picture—we spend a LOT of time—a lot of our lives–waiting.
You would think with all this waiting that we would not only be used to it, but we should be able to do it rather well. However, waiting is still something we seek to avoid even with all the modern conveniences our forefathers never dreamed of such as motor vehicles that run on fuel, appliances (microwaves, hair dryers, refrigerators, etc.), fast food restaurants with drive-thru windows, cell phones, computers, and internet that allows us to order items that can be delivered to our front door–just to name a few. Unfortunately, with this “microwave” society we live in, we do not build up (or strengthen) our “wait” muscles.
My personal “wait” muscles are severely underdeveloped. I tend to allow my frustration with waiting to affect my attitude and color my life. I mean, really, with 40 check-out lanes at Walmart, why do they insist on keeping only five lanes open at any given time? Why do we spend time standing in front of our microwaves watching the turntable go around while tapping our toe in impatience? How much faster does a microwave need to go? And why does a 30-minute wash cycle followed by 30 minutes of dryer time seem too long to wait for clean clothes? Our grandmothers and their mothers used to dedicate an entire day every week or so to washing and drying clothes.
God has a sense of humor. As much as I dislike waiting, He gives me every opportunity He can to allow me to grow. The other day as I stood in line waiting to drop off a medicine prescription, I could feel my frustration level raising so high I felt sure steam was coming out of my ears. The family in front of me had two overly bored, pre-schoolers running and jumping around, distracting everyone while their mother ineffectively yelled with gritted teeth for them to “be still.” The sixty-year old lady behind me was in a rather loud cell phone conversation with her mother (who must have been 90 and hard of hearing) sharing way more information than I was comfortable knowing about a stranger. And the technicians seemed to be spending an unnecessarily long time with each customer answering what seemed like unimportant questions.
It was at that moment the Holy Spirit decided to convict me that neither my face, nor my attitude, was very reflective of the Christ follower I profess to be. I took a deep breath, pasted a smile on my face, and worked on changing my attitude for the rest of my wait. (Looking back, I realize, the best action I could have taken would have been to pray for each person around me rather than dwell on how much their presence was making my wait time longer.)
Having confessed this habitual sin of frustration and non-Christian attitude and action, I have realized that this is something I need to diligently pray about and work on. Patience does not come easy for me and I consider “wait” a four-letter word for an activity I’d rather avoid. I am determined now to try to take these times to learn and grow in my walk with the Lord. Some of the things I plan to put into action are listed below:
- I will pray for others. I will pray for the people around me, or pray for people God has placed on my heart. I will use this contemplative time praying however the Lord leads me to pray.
- I will talk with those around me. A smile and/or a few encouraging words may help ease someone else’s wait time. I will seek God’s guidance on how much encouragement is needed, and stay in tune to whether the person feels like conversing or not.
- I will strive to keep a pleasant expression on my face, reflective of my Christian salvation. No one enjoys hanging around person who lets their irritation and frustration show easily and complains constantly to and about others.
- I will meditate on verses I’ve memorized or are trying to memorize.
- I will sing inspirational songs (to myself only.)
These are just some things can be done to improve our daily waiting time and make it more productive, thereby alleviating much of the frustration we feel. In continually practicing compassion towards others, you will not only be practicing Jesus’ “love others as you love yourself” commandment (Mark 12:31), but you may be their only insight into who Jesus is and the salvation He offers.
Let me encourage you to come up with some of your own ideas for using your “waiting” time. Waiting is inevitable; why not use that time wisely?
Be sure to check out The Exercise of Waiting (Part 2 of 2): How to Cope with Waiting Seasons.