Issue 24: guest essay: on waiting well | self-care while social distancing View in browser
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Issue 24: March 25, 2020
guest essay: on waiting well | self-care while social distancing

[4-minute read]

Dear Sisters,

It's week one of my "maternity leave" from writing. It also happens to be most everyone's first week of social distancing in response to COVID-19. As we are all waiting for news of when this uncertain, scary time will end, I think we can all benefit from the practical wisdom in this essay from my friend Sarah, with whom I spent six weeks traveling across France and Tunisia almost a decade ago (see an awesome picture of us riding camels in the Sahara Desert below). 

Thanks so much to Sarah for these words—please give her a follow on Instagram at soleil_hooray for more great content!

Love, Jill


On Waiting Well

By Sarah Joy (soleil_hooray)

Waiting is a universal human experience. Regardless of how content you are or what season you are in, it’s likely that you are waiting for something. Often, even once we’ve received what we’ve been waiting for, we find ourselves, once again, waiting for something else.

For a time, you wait for a spouse; then you wait to find your groove as a married couple. In another season, you wait to have children; then you wait with anticipation for your children to sleep through the night. Later, you wait for a new job; then you wait for a promotion at that job… and so on.

We go through life from waiting to waiting, transition to transition.

Yet, when we are in a time of transition, it’s easy to make excuses for not taking care of ourselves or letting our lives drift off course. So what does it mean, then, to wait well?

Right now, I am waiting for a job. In 2018, I left my job in D.C. to go to Morocco for a fellowship teaching English. Upon coming back to the U.S. in fall of 2019, I had several job prospects, but the transition has taken much longer than expected. It’s been a year since I started my job search, and as I wait for my next opportunity, it’s made me contemplate on how to wait well.

The challenge with waiting is that it usually means that something is out of our control. Whatever you are waiting for, none of us has the capacity to fast forward time. And until we do, we could all afford to learn how to wait well. Here are some things that I’ve learned in my own waiting.

Visualize where you want to be at the end of your wait.

When the next season or job comes, what kind of state do you want to be in emotionally, physically, financially or spiritually? What can you do now to prepare yourself?

This year, I received an exciting job offer that was later rescinded due to an internal issue with the company. When I lost that job prospect, I was so disappointed. Yet, when new job prospects started to develop, I found that I wasn’t excited. Instead of feeling grateful for new opportunities, I found myself feeling entitled.

Entitlement robs us of the joy of receiving. Prepare for your next season by not just getting your life ready, but your mindset right.

Remember that God’s Timing is Perfect

Sometimes the timing of things just doesn’t make sense to us. But as the old gospel song goes, “He’s an on-time God! . . . He may not come when you want him, but he’ll be there right on time.”

Looking back over the course of my life, I can recall many instances of supernatural timing. Whether it was job rejections that led to better opportunities or simply a friend texting a word of encouragement right when I needed to hear it, I have always been able to see God’s hand in the timing of my life.

As you wait, try to recall your past experiences with miraculous timing. Trust that God knows how to bring the right thing at the right time into your life.

Get Comfortable

There’s a reason why there are magazines in waiting rooms. No one really enjoys waiting, but there’s always something you can do to make it more comfortable. Accept that waiting can take a toll on us mentally and physically. In this season of waiting, you might need things that are not typical for you. Consider whether in this season you need more or less of the following:

  • Alone time
  • Time for recreational hobbies or socializing
  • Structure
  • Contact with certain people or situations

A dear friend of mine had a miscarriage a few years ago and found that for a time seeing other people’s young children was too triggering for her. As a mom herself, this meant stepping back significantly from her social circle. While that was challenging, it created more time for her hobby of sketching and painting. Her art gave her the comfort she needed as she waited for the pain of grief to ease.

Whatever you are waiting for, accept that waiting can be a challenge. To tackle that challenge, do what you can to make yourself as comfortable as possible in the process.

Embrace This Season

Each season comes with its unique opportunities. Position yourself to embrace your season knowing that God has placed you there for a reason. When we are waiting for something, it’s easy to become fixated on what we aren’tcapable of yet and what we don’t have. Yet each limitation we face in life actually presents many possibilities.

For example, my ongoing job search has not been great for my bank account. On the other hand, it has given me time to dedicate to writing. In this season, I’ve been able to publish and develop a new poetry collection. I won’t always have time for writing like I do now, so I want to embrace this unique season.

Another way of thinking about embracing the season is simply to practice gratitude. Celebrate the opportunities and relationships you do have and trust that God will bring the next season when the time is right.

. . . So what are you waiting for and what helps you to wait well?

Share with me on Instagram at soleil_hooray, where I share blog posts, poetry, and photos of great sunsets.

Sarah and I on camels in Tunisia the summer of 2010. This was the Happiest of Hump Days!

Self-care during social distancing

YOU GUYS. Do you know what it's like for an extrovert to have a baby during a global pandemic that forces us to cease all socialization? It is NOT my favorite! I absolutely loved having visitors when we had Julia, and it's killing me that even our family can't meet Baby Hazel for who knows how long. 

BUT. I'm choosing to make the most of this time, and we are really having some sweet moments. Fortunately I'm used to long days at home as a stay-at-home mom, but we do usually break up our days with play dates, library visits, trips to museums, afternoons at the park... man, I'm so sad just thinking about it! 

This time seems to be an extension of the journey I've been on since we moved to Atlanta, forcing me to continue to explore inward meaning and fulfillment rather than relying on other people or fun adventures to fill my cup. 

Here are some ways I'm enriching my days and taking care of myself. Feel free to borrow them, and I'd love to hear what you're doing, too! 

1. Epsom salt baths, candles, herbal tea and Harry Potter | Just about every night after Julia goes to sleep, I hand Hazel off to Scott and make some herbal tea, run a bath, pour in my Epsom salts, light a candle and press play on my Harry Potter audiobook from the library. I've had all of them on hold for months, and and the first one came through right after Hazel was born! Listening to a familiar, nostalgic, fictional book in my spare time has been so life giving during this time of worry and information overload. The bath thing might seem like cliché self-care, but taking time for a 15-minute bath something I've NEVER done before this baby. Baths are amazing; who knew?

2. FaceTime and phone calls | I've never talked on the phone more in my life. Whenever someone texts to see how we're doing, I ask if they are up for a phone call instead. It's nice to hear people's voices. 

3. Daily walks | Every day it's not raining, we make a point to go on as long a walk as I can handle and spend some time playing in the backyard. The four walls of our 900-sf apartment can feel a little stifling at times, so getting outside is key for my mental health. 

4. Maintaining good nutrition | This definitely falls into the "boring self-care" category, but we've been trying not to fall back on sweets, junk food, alcohol, etc. to get through this time. I know if we feel good physically that will help us stay mentally healthy as well. 

5. Praying the Hours | I just really don't have the mental capacity right now to do an in-depth Bible study or an extended "Quiet Time" (but let's be honest I'm horrible at that even in a normal season of life). I really like the structure of spiritual disciplines like Praying the Hours. Basically, four times a day, I stop what I'm doing and read through a few passages of scripture, pause for prayer and/or confession and say a prayer called a "Collect." It's been nice to keep me connected with God in a relaxed way. 

This blog post does a great job of explaining the practice, and here is the webpage I use. 

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