The Art of Waiting by Kristen Farlow
I came across this blog post years ago. I saved it. The original link doesn’t exist anymore. If you know Kristen Farlow, thank her for changing my life. This is so good, I had to repost and share it.
“We never live; we are always in the expectation…” Voltaire
To wait for something is to be human. We often don’t explore the role of delay in our lives. We look at waiting as something to be endured, to get over with so life can begin again. Waiting can feel like swimming in a pool of vagueness on a cold winter morning, longing for the warm towel of knowing. But the only issue is there is no towel.
Waiting is part mundane, part mystery. We can’t begin with our plans until we know we got the job, or the doctor says the test was positive or negative, or the email from your latest crush, indicates he likes you, or he doesn’t. Until we can collect enough information to build an answer, life can feel like we are anxiously waiting for its arrival. To fill the space of waiting, we sometimes fill our heads with grand expectations lured by runaway daydreams. Or the waiting can push us deeper into the fog with only gargoyles of doubt and shame as our company. To avoid the discomfort and release the anxiety that waiting can cause, we lose our selves in our phones, TV, food or fantasy. Or worse, we try to force an answer because we can’t hold down the impulse button long enough.
What if we looked at waiting differently? What if we looked at it as a gift, a time to pause and give space to our lives? To hold the situation and accept it for what it is, a mystery that we don’t know how it’s going to unfold. It’s hard not to get caught up in the emotions of needing to know, to hurry up and start whatever is next.
Someone once said that patience takes both courage and compassion. I never thought of patience like that before. We need courage to wait and know that we are not in control but that this moment, the moment in the unknowing, is enough for right now. We need compassion because waiting for an answer it can difficult and scary. The gargoyles of doubt and shame always seem close by. We must listen to our emotions and tend to them gently, reminding them like children when their cries are caused by made-up stories and movies we create in our heads.
To wait means to be vulnerable and to accept the truth we can’t really do anything about the waiting aspect of being human. It’s part of life. By waiting we allow our lives to grow more authentically. We can use this as an opportunity to break open at a time when it’s easier to close-up in fear. We learn how lean on something bigger than ourselves. We pray. We ask for help and guidance from the Holy Spirit. We trust in the silence and absence of action, and in doing so we avoid the mediocre life of rushing on empty.
The next time you find yourself waiting for something to happen, breathe. Accept it for what it is, a pause and resting point before what is to come is born. For each time you are forced to wait, you are strengthening that muscle of will power to just be.
TS Eliot so splendidly describes waiting as the stillness that is the dance in his poem “East Coker”.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
And then there is…..
….For you I wait all day long (Ps 25:5)