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Practicing Waiting

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I was helping in Kids Community a couple weeks ago when the leader asked, “Does anyone know what Advent means?” 

A fourth-grader replied, “It means 'waiting.'” Traditionally, the church defines Advent as “coming,” but the word waiting stuck with me that week. I think that fourth-grader was onto something. 

Last week I decided to brave the post office to mail a Christmas package. Just as I pulled into the parking lot, I remembered that a store nearby had a little post office station inside. Annoyed with myself, I thought, That would have been the smarter choice—fewer people, shorter line, less wait. But I was already at the post office, so I prepared myself for the long, inefficient line. A sweet older lady with a hunched back and a contorted torso stood behind me in line. She commented on how nicely I had packaged my box. And then she went on to compliment my shoes and how I looked and jokingly said that she’d want to be me. It was a little weird, but nice. 

Image credit: Kevin Dooley

As I was leaving the post office, I made a split-second decision to turn left to increase my efficiency. But I got into the left-turn lane just as the light turned red. Ugh, I should have turned right flashed through my head. Almost immediately, I felt the Holy Spirit challenging me: Why are you thinking that? To which I replied, I don’t like to wait. Those words could not be truer. I don’t know anyone who likes waiting.

There’s something about waiting that grates on my twenty-first century, Silicon Valley sensibilities. Why do I dislike waiting? Why do I despise lines, no matter where—post office, red lights, Costco, Chipotle, etc.? I have only a few hours a day without my kids, and I have a lot of things I want to get done. Efficiency is critical to my sanity, and waiting is inefficient. Waiting could make me insane. 

But I felt God challenging me on this as I sat at that red light. Really, is there anything bad or wrong about having to wait? We want everything fast and efficient around here—our food, our checkout lines, and our cars. Waiting has become synonymous with bad. In this season of Advent, as I have stood or sat around waiting for things, I have been reminded that we are in a season of waiting for the hope that is in Jesus. Just waiting. And this waiting is good. 

So, all waiting can’t be bad, can it? What might I miss out on by not waiting or by having an annoyed attitude while I wait? Maybe waiting in lines, at lights, in stores, and at restaurants is good practice for waiting for Jesus.

I was truly grateful for that insight that day. The insight got even more real two days later, when I was in a solo bike accident that left me with two broken front teeth, a sore mouth and chin, and scrapes and bruises all over my body. 

In recent years I have wanted Advent to be a more spiritual and meaningful experience. After my bike accident, when I couldn’t do much more than rest, I had some time for serious reflection. This was not exactly the kind of meaningful Advent season I was hoping for, but I still found myself grateful for several things regarding the bike accident:

  • that my five-year-old son Caleb wasn’t riding with me that day
  • that I didn’t break any bones, only my front teeth
  • that I have access to excellent dental care and insurance
  • that I have loving friends who gave practical help when it was needed

The accident forced me to slow down and let my body heal. I can do nothing but wait for my scrapes to scab over and for the bruises to stop hurting and fade. My body is doing the work it was designed to do. What a gift. What a miracle. 

I’m waiting (and trying to do it patiently) for my body to heal. I’m trying not to peel off the ugly scabs too soon, which would make them start bleeding again. Letting them peel away on their own, as the delicate new skin underneath takes its rightful place, I am forced to wait. All I can do is let healing come in its own time.  Just as I wait expectantly for my body do its work, I wait to celebrate Jesus’ coming into the world.

Do you have trouble waiting? Why do you think this is the case? How can the practice of waiting help us in our spiritual walk? 

 

 

Loris Perronne is a stay-at-home mom of three children: Anna (12), Wesley (9), and Caleb (5). She and her husband, Brian, have been part of The River for fourteen years. She serves in Kids Community and volunteers at the kids’ schools. Despite her introversion, she loves getting to know people. In the last couple years she started running and has found great joy, camaraderie, and health in it. In a former life, Loris was a mechanical engineer. When she isn’t running, preparing food, driving children, or helping with homework, she derives great satisfaction from fixing things around the house.

 

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