On Waiting

Art print , girl, portrait ANYA, figurative 8.5" x 11" paper
Art print , girl, portrait ANYA: by Marina (marina826) – Click for info

We are all waiting. We are watching and wondering what will come around the next bend. Aren’t we? Our whole lives we are living in the now but looking forward to something that is coming. Sometimes the waiting is hard; sometimes it is exciting.

What do we do in the waiting?

I am not an expert on waiting. I’m actually quite terrible at it. But lately I feel I’ve been waiting for so much related to my personal and professional life, and it brings up a lot of anxiety. But I want to combat that. I want to wait well. So I’ve been listening, searching, and trying to find ways to wait that are not about what is to come, but rather to use the experience of waiting as a moving forward

Here are four practices or experiences I’ve tried lately:

Create “littler” waits.
Or maybe I should call this: create little satisfying bits of life that fill up the waiting. I was given a really good suggestions when I was speaking with a counselor about my waiting. I may be burdened or frustrated by waiting, and in some ways I have no control over how long the waiting will be, but I can create little things in between that I can choose. I can actively find joys, moments of fun, and satisfaction in the smaller things. Some may find this easy to do, but it was an “ah-ha” moment for me. So maybe each week I plan one night where I will go out to a new restaurant and try something I’ve never had before. It’s a way of exploring, learning, using my senses, and enjoying an experience in the midst of waiting. (I still haven’t started this yet, but I plan to now that I’ve written it down.)

Check my expectations.
We all have expectations of what will happen once our waiting is over and our goal comes to fruition. But sometimes we have to check our expectations. So I  may say to myself: “When this waiting is over I will no longer have to worry about (fill in the blank).” But am I certain there will not be other worries? I may say to myself: “When the waiting is over it will get so much easier.” But is that true? Sometimes our expectations are false, which can negatively impact us when the wait is over. It seems best to make sure our expectations are realistic. Maybe I could make a list of the good things I will have when the wait is over, but also the challenges I might face. It may put it all into better perspective.

Invite people to wait with me.
This seems to be the biggest helper. Sharing something big and heavy with a few family members, friends, or colleagues or writing about it on a blog just helps.  Often I find sharing my experience helps other people as well as myself, and people also help me keep my expectations in check (see above).

Wait in silence.
Ugh, right? Silence. A lot of times I give my anxieties, my frustrations, and my fears voices, and usually they are negative. They sound like little whiny mice moaning and groaning in my head. A lot of times those voices are my self-pity, which gets me nowhere.  Sometimes it’s hard to be positive in the midst of waiting for something hard, so lately I’ve been trying to just be silent. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I cry, and sometimes my thoughts drift, but being silent and taking in the understanding that I am waiting gives the experience meaning. Just a couple times of silence in the waiting has also helped me feel rested instead of anxious, hopeful instead of nervous, or grounded instead of unsteady.

How do you wait well? What helps you live your life in the now in anticipation of what is ahead?

I’m still learning how to do this — I believe we all are at times — and would love to hear other ideas.

7 thoughts on “On Waiting

  1. Waiting can be excrutiating can’t it? The worst time in my life for waiting was after a biopsy on the lump in my breast (that was 7 1/2 years ago). I ‘knew’ it was cancer and I’m a positive, optimistic thinker. But I knew. Waiting to hear the doctor say those words? The longest wait of my life. Waiting for my children to be born? Not so much — that was joy and I knew the process would bring changes each month with a beautiful result at the end. Different types of waiting. But during the cancer wait I had to learn ways to cope with the waiting. Your suggestions were some that I undertook…making good use of the time instead of sitting and fretting and worrying and wasting precious time. Here is to productive and joy filled waiting.

    1. Yes, Sherry – Different types of waiting… some are hard and some are exciting. But, oh, how I want to wait well and not “just” be waiting. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      The fact that the lump was found 7.5 years ago must mean you’ve waited through a lot in the course of surviving through cancer. Best wishes to you this holiday season!

  2. I went through a very hard time recently where I was waiting for a number of personal and relationship problems to be resolved. So much of the situation was out of my hands that I turned to yoga and meditation for relief. I learned to really let go of what I couldn’t control and to focus on the present moment, because that’s all anybody really has. While you are waiting for that one thing to happen, you are missing all the little moments that make up your life as it really is.

    This doesn’t mean I ignored everything I was feeling as a result of the situation, however. I think you make a great point about waiting in silence – for me, it was meditating and allowing myself to acknowledge my frustration and pain while in that safe state, focusing on my breath. Doing so was a very painful thing for me, but, ultimately, I think it was a great teacher and it kept me rooted in reality.

    1. Hi, Heather. Thanks for posting your experience. Waiting does further shape our ability to “let go of what we can’t control” – makes us better at it. Very true: the experience of waiting well is a great teacher.

  3. I’m waiting, too. I was laid off over 6 months ago. Although I am receiving unemployment benefits and working as a waitress part-time, I would really like to use the college degree I worked so hard to earn. And…I need to earn enough to pay back my student loans taken out for that hard-earned degree. Hundreds of resumes sent, dozens of interviews later, still nothing. Back to the drawing board. This is the hardest waiting I have ever done. My 2 pregnancies were easier, because I knew I had a beautiful life waiting on the other side. The uncertainty of this waiting is horrendous. My brain tells me God has turned a deaf ear, but my heart tells me to keep the faith: Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. Here is to “being sure” and “being certain.” Merry Christmas and happy 2013 to all!


    1. Thank you for being open and honest and vulnerable about your circumstance. It’s not easy (at least usually not for me) to be honest and vulnerable about where I am.

      I, too, was unemployed for an 8 month period. I was a professional, had a degree, had dreams, felt I was very employable, but I was scooping ice cream in a local ice cream shop in order to make ends meet (and sometimes I didn’t make them meet… ). I agree that that experience was one of the hardest ever. I felt so unstable, and had really low self esteem. Also, I thought God had turned a deaf ear to me… and “waiting in the Lord” wasn’t much consolation in the midst of all the financial and emotional frustration.

      Right now, I’m waiting for children. My husband and I have been trying for 5 years, and have been doing fertility treatments for a little over a year now. Nothing’s working. And I just throw up my hands and think: “God did you really give me the desire to have children to just dash it on the rocks of barrenness.”

      I imagine the waiting for fulfilled dreams feels the same for you. Just know, that a like-minded friend is waiting as well, and we’ll continue waiting and hoping that something new and beautiful will come… but the waiting sucks.

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