I crawled into Downtown Fort Worth at peak rush hour this morning. With this crawl, came two options: dread or hope. With the push of a button, I turned on a podcast, enjoyed the new ideas and perspective as I slowly wound through what appeared to be the entire population of Texas on Highway 287.
Life is full of waiting — the type of waiting that makes you ache. Waiting for a fulfilling job. Waiting for health to return. Waiting for reconciliation. Waiting. This kind of waiting causes us to question — our direction, our decisions, our capacity. My journal is full of pages over my lifetime of notes about waiting — waiting for resolve, waiting for answers, waiting for the next action step. Learning to wait in these season with hope is not easy.
Waiting in the line at Walmart and waiting for your college aged son to come home for the weekend are two completely different experiences. In the line at Walmart you notice every annoying little thing — how slow the person at the front of the line pulls their wallet out, how many unnecessary items the guy in front of you has in his basket, how chatty the clerk is with the boy refilling her plastic bag dispenser. You tend to focus on what is in your way. As you wait for the much anticipated return of a child, you busy yourself preparing, checking every detail, readying for all the fun, long conversation, and sweetness of the moment. Your focus is on the things that bring you joy.
One of the best things that comes out of waiting is the refining of our character. When a two year old doesn’t get what they want when they want it, they throw themselves on the floor and have a temper tantrum. (Or was that just my two year old?) How do we respond when we don’t get what we want, when we want it? Waiting well means pursuing growth over immediacy. It means refusing to do less than excellent work at your current job when your dream job is nowhere in sight. It means expressing gratitude for what is in our grasp, rather than complaining about what is out of our grasp.
As I was slowly snaking my way to downtown Fort Worth this morning, I could focus on the fact that I would eventually get there. And with that hope in mind, use my extra thirty minutes on the road to improve myself. Or I could choose to feel drudgery over crawling along the roadway with the masses. Over the years, I've done both, probably more of the drudgery than the hope. The choice isn’t easy but it is ours to make.
Let's not ask ourselves, "Why wait?" but instead, "How?"