On a patience scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "not patient at all" and 10 being "very patient to the point of sainthood," I am approximately a minus-1000.
So a few weeks ago, when my friend Christine, a.k.a, The Real Mom, shared a post on patience, I read it straight away.
My favorite item on the list was Christine's suggestion about doing something while you're waiting. This idea of active waiting appeals to me because of my aforementioned patience deficit issue.
I'm currently neck-deep in a season of waiting in one particular area of my life. (Sorry for the maddening ambiguity, but my family will stop supporting my blogging if I give away all their secrets.)
I have no idea how this situation is going to turn out. I have no idea when I'll know how it's going to turn out. While I'm waiting for it to turn out, there is almost nothing I can do to influence it or act on it.
Because losing my mind over this is not going to make things a whole lot better, here's what I'm trying to do instead. While I wait...and wait...and wait.
1. Pray. I fight my mind on a good day, and in this season of uncertainty and treading water, that battle has, er, "intensified." My mind wants to think constantly about The Situation (TS), but there is only so much to think about it while it's going no where fast. So my new plan is that whenever I'm tempted to stew over TS, I should pray instead. Pray about TS, yes, but also pray about everything else I know that needs praying about. Which, given the whole "in this world you will have trouble" bit that Jesus was 100% on-target about, is a lot. I know prayer matters. I know it makes a difference. I've seen it again and again in my life and the lives of others. Doing it while I wait is not just killing time, nor is it a waste of time.
2. Memorize truth. Another weapon in my battle not to constantly let my mind get stuck on TS is to steer it in the direction of Scripture. Memorizing Bible verses is the one topic guaranteed to make some of my beloved Tuesday-morning Bible study ladies' eyes glaze over, and I get it: it's hard. But I've figured out a method that works for me (it's here if you're curious), and in this season of waiting, I need to put it back into regular action. Go-to verses and chunks of Scripture I come back to again and again include:
- Philippians 4:6-8 ~ "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
- Deuteronomy 30:20 ~ "Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life."
- Isaiah 35:10 ~ "Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
- Psalm 40:1-2 ~ "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."
Hello, hangout-room closet (a.k.a., old school-supply graveyard)? Yeah, I've got my eye on you. One rainy day soon, it's going to be you, me, a movie on DVD, and a jumbo-sized garbage bag, my friend.
4. Control what can be controlled. One of the most maddening things about TS is that I cannot control it. And I am a certified control freak. Sigh. (See Isaiah...above.) I can do almost nothing to influence the eventual outcome of this whole thing. So not only am I waiting, but I'm waiting for some great unknown thing to happen. Or not happen. Or something. Sigh. But all of life is not out of my control, so I need to redirect my energy and commitment toward an area I can do something about.
Take my arms, for instance. (Yes, this does relate.) I've always hated my arms. Well, specifically, my non-existent triceps. My biceps are decent, but their back-of-my arm counterparts need, um, work. So I've gotten a hold of a set of weights and have come up with some exercises and now I just need to do the thing already. I can't control TS, but I can control if I pick up these weights and use them. And who knows? By the time TS has worked itself out, I might be able to go sleeveless. (Insert NOT holding my breath.)
5. Be thankful on purpose. I'm sure there are plenty of gratitude experts and philosophers and other smart people I could quote here, but I'm sticking with the wisdom of Madam Blueberry on this one: "a thankful heart is a happy heart." I may not be crazy about The Situation or the waiting it's forcing on me, but I am very crazy about several of the people involved. I can choose to be thankful for them--that they are part of my life in the first place.
6. Celebrate anyway. While I'm waiting for TS to do whatever it's going to do, my tendency is to put the rest of life on hold. But there is much to celebrate now: fall (my favorite season); the return to fuzzy sheets on my bed; my daughter's senior year. Plus, after my old refrigerator up and died on me, I'm not ashamed to say I'm absolutely celebrating the fabulous "keeps stuff cold" feature on my new model. It's the little things.
7. Nurture a neglected relationship. The time, thought, energy, and focus I previously put into The Situation needs to go somewhere else while I'm waiting. So it might as well go into a relationship that could use some attention. There are emails I can send, coffee dates I can finally schedule (not just talk about scheduling), and even phone calls I can make. These relationship-nurturing actions have waited long enough.
Okay, mama, what do you do while you wait? What else can I do? Share your wisdom in a comment or over on Facebook. Go ahead...I'll be waiting.
My deepest thanks to Aimee Imbeau from A Work of Grace for so kindly featuring this post at Grace & Truth. Bless you, Aimee!
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