Have you ever felt like big chunks of your life are spent waiting? We wait in line at the store. We wait for a big promotion. We wait for true love and a happily ever after. We wait for the One Thing that will make us really, truly joyful and satisfied.
If you find yourself frustrated by a season of waiting, the THING you’re waiting for is probably…
- something you’ve worked hard for and labored many years to nurture to fruition.
- something bigger than you, a goal that you’ve poured in many hours to achieve.
- something that would benefit not only you but so many other people that you just can’t figure out why—oh, why—it hasn’t worked out.
Worse, you might be a little jealous of those who already have what you want. But you try to work through the ugliness of envy and continue pressing forward.
And still…you wait.
If you’re anything like me, your patience level is so thin it’s see-through, if you have any at all. For the rest of you, simply leave a smiley face in the comments section—mostly because I want to know who you are and what’s your secret to life. The rest of us are antsy as we try to get to the next level, and that kind of stress and dissatisfaction can take its toll. (Hint: getting antsy doesn’t help.)
Here’s the thing with patience—it would be a cinch if we could acquire it overnight. Interesting paradox, if I say so myself! Instead, like all other virtues, patience is developed through practice, over time. There are no shortcuts. (If you know of a hack, please clue me in.)
Before we go into my tips on how to wait like a winner, let me pitch a very important point: the One Thing you think will make you feel complete really isn’t going to make you feel complete. It’s yet another truth I’ve learned along my bumpy, uphill path. I don’t know about you, but only God can fill that space in my life.
Now that we have that cleared up we can move on. Fortunately for you, I have a lot of practice, so here are my tips on waiting:
Diversify your interests
I’m not telling you to give up hope and walk away from your life’s dream. For years I was focused on One Thing to the point where I deflated every time it fell through. It sucked the life out of me, until I learned to enjoy other pursuits.
The more interests you have—calligraphy, small groups at church, gardening, sports—the more activities you’ll have to look forward to. You’ll be too busy to obsess about the One Thing and the richer your life will be.
Do the next thing
Whatever you’re pursuing, keep doing it but broaden your focus. As a writer, while I’m waiting to hear back about a novel submission, I can work on my next book, brainstorm new ideas, dig deeper into craft, prepare for a conference—the list is endless. Of course we should always devote the most time to our primary goal, whatever it is, but our primary goal shouldn’t be our only goal.
While this isn’t a hands-on step like the others, it’s probably the single most important way to thrive while waiting. Surround yourself with inspiration—people, books, art—whatever it is that will propel you in the right direction. Think back to what inspired you in the first place to light your fire again.
Resist the temptation to let anxiety and sadness take over. You have your dream/goal for a reason—it didn’t develop on a whim or you wouldn’t care so deeply. If you believe in what you’re trying to accomplish, if what you’re seeking is worthwhile, go forward with hope!
Through myriad opportunities—and many more to come—I’ve learned that waiting and patience aren’t evil twins. Instead, they work together to mold us into the people we’re meant to be, and I’m okay with that.
What are you waiting on? How do you handle the wait?
Since the original writing of this post, I’ve been offered a book contract from Barbour Publishing for my novel tentatively titled Shadows of Hope as a 2018 release! It will be 5 years between published books, and 12 years since I began writing. I know a thing or two about waiting!