5 Things I Learned About Waiting That Are Probably Common Knowledge But I Feel Smart For Realizing Them

“All human wisdom is contained in these words: Wait and Hope!”

Alexandre Dumas, Le Comte de Monte Cristo

I’m an indecisive person. Which, in theory, makes waiting seem not all that bad. No decisions to make, right?

The worst part comes when I finally decide something.

That’s it.

Game over.

When I set my heart on something, I want it. And I want it right then.

Recently I’ve set my heart on too many plans, life paths, and fantasies that have yet to become realities, and I have been very humbled in the past few months.

I cognitively knew there would be stretches of my life in which I was forced to sit and wait. But I expected it in the form of waiting in line at the grocery store while a lady pulls out a bag of 274 coupons she cut out of the newspaper. Not waiting for months as I glide into the unknown of my future. Which is still unknown, by the way.

However, if we don’t recognize the expansiveness of the unknown, we cannot recognize the boundlessness of the opportunities before us. So here are five things I’ve had the privilege of learning in my time of waiting. 

The Beauty of Unpredictability

As much as my heart loves spontaneity, my mind yearns for structure. My fun, sporadic side always comes home at the end of the day, exhausted and ready to cuddle up next to the somewhat bland personality of my evening routine. It’s kind of cute actually. They sit and watch Jeopardy together and then are in bed by 10pm.

Not knowing what’s coming next has seriously threatened my boring side (she’s very offended), but it has also calmed my control freak mind and allowed her to understand that the beauty of life lies in its unpredictability.

The “Grand Narrative”

I like to think of my life as a story that is still being written each day upon waking. And though things haven’t gone exactly the way I want them, I know there is a grand narrative that will allow me to look back on my life with a series of ooohs and aaahs as I realize why I couldn’t have exactly what I wanted in the moment I wanted it. And I continue to see that all the previous experiences I’ve had–both good and bad–made me who I am today. I am so immensely thankful for every single person who has been in my life, even those who have deeply wounded me, because they have afforded me the opportunity to grow. To love deeper. To analyze more thoroughly. To pursue knowledge and wisdom more wholeheartedly.

The Things I Can Control

Pretty much all I can control right now is me, my thoughts, and my actions. Which I guess is true of most humans for the majority of their lives. But in my panic (and realization that my life was so often out of my control), I took my hair and stripped it of the rich, deep brown hues it once had. I not-so-patiently waited for graduation, as I had promised myself, and then I chopped it all off. And when people asked what caused this sudden external change, I tell them the truth. I just did it because it was one of the only things I could actually control in my life, and I wanted to remind myself of that. And though it sounds silly, finding control in the little things is actually a big thing.

The Work

Waiting is work. Lots of work.

And there is always something new to work on. Which is both exciting and exhausting. But while seemingly stuck in my waiting, I’ve learned that God is working way more than I am. He is working with me, “guiding me in his truth” (Psalm 25:5). He draws near to my heart, comforts me, and reassures me that “I need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).

For the longest time, I felt like a little child wrestling in the arms of my loving Father as He tried to hold me tight and show me His unending love. But after trying time and time again to force my way into a situation with a stubborn heart and mind, after being disappointed countless times, after feeling hopeless and lost, I finally just gave up. I stopped pushing away and kicking. I sat and cried and allowed God to hold me and love me. And I’m still learning to embrace and hold tight.

The Reason

The anxious nights filled with praying and crying will be worth it. I know without a doubt in my mind that I will look back and realize the beauty of this period of my life. My future self will not be able to exist without first experiencing these formative moments.

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