Waiting Q & A

As part of my 31 Days of Letter series last month, I wrote a letter to high school ladies about being patient while God orchestrates their love life.

However, the encouragement to wait for God’s timing isn’t limited to highschoolers and waiting doesn’t only apply to romantic relationships.

My romantic history taught me the importance of giving God control of my desires.  I’m still learning. I seek to be open-handed with my plans so that God can change them, replace them, or completely erase them at His will not mine.

I got an email from one of my favorite high school ladies with a great question that I wanted to answer here in case others had similar ponderings.

She wrote:

I was wondering – you said  “Waiting is hard, but don’t let the difficulty of waiting distract you from pursuing God whole heartedly.”

Sometimes when I am waiting for something I do get distracted on the thing I want.

Any sugestions as to how I might try to be more focused on God??

I definitely failed more than I succeeded in this department.  In hindsight, I do know what I wish I would have done more often to combat that antsy, agitated state of waiting.

Disclaimer: I have been the recipient of all of this advice.  I did my fair share of eye rolling because it seemed like I was getting a lecture straight out of Sunday School 101.  Sometimes I followed it; sometimes I poo-poo’d it.  If only I could take back every time I poo-poo’d it… 

The key is to distract yourself from being distracted.  Confusing?  Aren’t you trying to avoid distraction? Well, yes.  But, the effectiveness of this strategy is WHAT you distract yourself with.

Distract yourself with God and you’ll be well on your way to being more focused on Him.

Pray – Cry to God.  Yell at God.  Confess to God.  Ask questions of God.  Thank God.  Submit to God.  I found it very therapeutic to be honest with the One who knows my heart more intimately than I do.  Praying may not yield a change in your circumstances, but growing intimacy with God changes your attitude about your circumstances.  The best way to foster intimacy is to communicate.

If words escape you, start praying the Psalms.  David and the other Psalmists struggled with the same anxieties we face.  Let their words spark some dialogue between you and God. (Try these: Psalm 27, 37, 39, 130)

Listen – I always rebelled against this step in the process.  I listened – I just listened to the wrong voices.  My heart and mind were rowdy with hurt and frustration. Those voices weren’t helpful, but they were a way to justify my feelings.

Listening to God required silence, which is the antithesis of what I wanted to accompany my waiting.  Silence made the wait seem stark and never-ending. Learn to be still in order to hear the still small voice of God.  Quieting my heart and mind made space for me to accept God’s comfort and peace.

Serve – Pour into others.  Waiting can become really internally focused. Selfishness is one of the most destructive qualities in relationships.  It’s best to start weeding that out of your life ASAP.  Being active for God’s glory is a great way to start making selflessness a habit.

No matter how much you want to be in a relationship, the “single season” should not be wished away.  I missed out on deepening friendships and creating richer community because I was focused on what I didn’t have instead of the gifts God had already provided.

I also let my single status slip away without maximizing the time I had, for lack of a less cliche phrase, to better myself.  I could have given Tim the gift of a more patient, kind, selfless wife.

Bottom line: Get distracted by God, not the difficulty of waiting.  Enjoy the single season – you most likely won’t get it back.

How do you stay focused on God in the midst of waiting?

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