Our little family is in a season of waiting at the moment.
We’ve been trying to move to Malvern since Nathan started working there last year. What seemed like an extremely promising start, with lots of interest and an offer on our flat within the first month, soon dissolved into disappointment and became a long, stagnant wait.
Now, as Christians we are certain that our Daddy God has a plan; He already knows where we will live and He is hard at work lining up the right buyer and the right vendor for us. We can’t see this happening, but we firmly believe that it is. But what’s been fascinating is realising that trust and frustration are not mutually exclusive. We’ve each been wrestling in our own way with impatience and resentment, so we’ve had to buckle down and choose to stay positive – which is how we came to discover 9 effective tools for surviving while you wait.
If you’re waiting for a relentless illness to finally ease, if you’re waiting for a job offer to come, if you’re waiting for a test result to come back, or any season in your life to end, you might understand where we’re coming from and I hope you’ll find these tips a fresh reminder to keep surviving and holding onto hope.
1. Keep having fun.
DIY, dinner dates, silly games, art projects, crazy ideas
Life goes on while you wait. It’s frustrating. Your friends, colleagues and family will probably keep making progress while you’re stuck treading water, and it can feel like you’re being left behind. So don’t miss out on all the fun. What’s stopping you from organising a get-together with your mates, or getting out for a walk or reupholstering something? Get your mind off the serious stuff and onto something less meaningful; it’s good to spend time being creative or practical, and it’s also good to do neither and just be silly for a bit.
(If you need some inspiration, here’s a ridiculous video about pancakes I made with a friend, just because.)
2. Count your blessings.
Children, a good friend, a beautiful sunrise, a chance to bless someone else, a roof, milk in your fridge
Look up from the immediate problem. Surface from the crushing frustration. Yes, you can do it, don’t start thinking you can’t. How you spend your thought life will knock on to your attitude, which will knock on to the words you say and before you know it, form habits that will affect your character. Spend time thinking – literally just thinking – about the great stuff going on for you right now. (If you pray, you can thank God for these things.) There may be many difficulties, even some tragedies, but Matt Redman reckons every one of us has 10,000 reasons to be grateful. What are yours?
3. Invest in the present.
Today is a gift - accept it.
It’s so easy to spend this season wishing it would be over, but Nathan’s advice is to get what you can out of the now. Who could you spend time with now? What could you be doing now that might even benefit you in the future? Make use of the time you have while waiting, rather than just wishing you weren’t. To use a metaphor, what would you do while waiting for a bus? Have an angry outburst? Pace sadly? Stare at your watch and count down every second? Probably not. You’d be better off passing the time by catching up on your messages, or getting to know the person waiting with you. You might even just sit and enjoy the peace of ‘being’, not ‘doing’. It’s all time that’s yours to spend as you wish, so spend it wisely.
Stop fretting and enjoy the space.
If you’re waiting for something, you’re at a standstill; there’s nothing more for you to do right now. If you’re anything like me, you’ll keep trying to control some aspect of the situation anyway, to lift that heavy helpless feeling, but the reality is that it can’t be completely controlled – and that can feel both frustrating and liberating. Often when we’re busy, we wish we could have a rest. Then as soon as we have a rest forced upon us, it drives us crazy! Try looking at this season as an enforced holiday; you won’t achieve anything by expending energy trying to make it go faster. So take the opportunity to have a timeout.
5. Hold onto the promises.
When the waiting gets you down, be uplifted by these powerful words.
There are some amazing promises in the Bible about waiting, and when things get on top of me a bit I find it helps to remember these and hold onto them. The key to each one is to endure in a resting, trusting way, with your hope in God. Here’s what the Bible promises for you when you do that:
- You will gain new strength (Isaiah 40:31)
- You will grow in perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:2-4)
- God will help you (Psalm 37:5)
- God will be good to you (Lamentations 3:24-26)
- You will have all you need and be content (Psalm 37:11)
- God will hear you (Psalm 5:3, Micah 7:7)
- God will love and redeem you (Psalm 130:5-8)
- You will be worthy of the kingdom of God (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5)
- You will be happy! (Isaiah 30:18)
- God will send what you need (Jeremiah 14:22)
6. Meow. Loudly.
Moaning always helps.
Perhaps the people you’re waiting for have forgotten to feed you. Maybe they don’t love you like they say they do – surely if they loved you they’d feed you now. Either way, better kick up a massive fuss and draw loads of attention to yourself. Maybe you won’t have to keep waiting that way.
Nathan and I don’t recommend following Minnie’s advice, she’s tiny and leaves hair everywhere. But did you notice any similarities with our own impatience? We don’t feed Minnie every time she demands food because we don’t want her to encounter health problems due to over-eating. We care about her wellbeing – a far higher plane of understanding than she could possibly reach with her tiny, furry brain. That’s so like us two-legged folk and our relationship with God. After 400 years of slavery in Egypt, it took the Israelites just one month of freedom to start moaning. (Exodus 16) In exasperation, we too may feel that God is ignoring us when our cries go unanswered. The reality is that “God’s thoughts are far higher than our thoughts, and his ways are far higher than our ways” (Isaiah 55:8), and he knows a much better way for you – it’s just going to require a little waiting.
7. Avoid tempting short-cuts.
The best is worth the wait.
Do you remember being a kid and waiting for dinner, how IMPOSSIBLY HUNGRY you felt and how all-consuming thoughts of food could be? And yet, you’d never be allowed a snack – because you’d “ruin your dinner”. In your waiting situation today, is there a tempting short-cut that seems so appealing right now? It won’t be as good as the real thing, but it would be more immediate. Hold tight to your convictions, remember why you’re waiting, and don’t settle for unsatisfying snacks when a delicious roast is on the way…
8. Don’t get too comfy…
*Snooze for 5 minutes* *3 hours pass and you miss an important meeting*
This is a tricky one, because we believe it’s good to stay distracted from a disheartening wait and keep enjoying yourself – to a certain extent. However, if you stretch that to the point where you lose sight of the end goal, you might find yourself unprepared when the day finally arrives and even risk missing out on a big opportunity. The Bible says we are waiting for Jesus to come back, and warns us to stay alert and ready (check out Matthew 25 to see the analogy Jesus uses). It’s a sobering thought, as it seems like all the people around us have completely forgotten that this cataclysmic event is closer today than it’s ever been in history. So stay alert and ready; knowing that there is something better to come can inform how we act now.
9. Don’t go it alone.
Stay plugged into your community.
It’s easy to slip into a pretty unhelpful habit with things like frustration and sadness, where you get so bogged down and fogged up with it all that it takes over your thinking and drives you into isolation. Please, can we urge you to notice this happening and resist it? Meet up with friends even when you don’t feel like it. Talk to someone even if you fear they won’t understand or won’t be interested (if they’re a good friend, they will be brilliant and do their best to listen and understand – if not, turn to someone else who will). Whatever you do, stay connected and share what you’re going through; we’re not meant to go through these times alone.
You’re so so welcome to chat to us if you’re going through something at the moment. 🙂 You can leave a comment below, or join the chat on Facebook – we’d love to hear from you and share ideas to help each other.