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!
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This year, I received an exciting job offer that was later rescinded due to an internal issue with the company.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.
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
- 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.