Every woman I know is waiting on something.
She’s waiting till she knows which school to attend, or waiting to find that first big job after college.
She’s waiting for the right guy to come along, or for Mr. Right to put a ring on it.
She’s waiting on a promotion, or maybe a change of pace.
She’s waiting to have her first real home and put all those HGTV hours to good use. Or she’s waiting to replace the washer that just went out, the roof that leaks…
She’s waiting to pee on a stick and see positive news.
Or, she’s gotten the good news, and stretchmarks, and now she’s waiting for her little blessing to arrive already.
She’s waiting for a rambunctious rugrat to enter grade school, or for her overly-scheduled pre-teen to get his license so she can finally retire from chauffering…
She’s counting down the days ‘til her stubborn teen leaves for college… or waiting for her prodigal to come home again.
She’s waiting for the results.
Or for retirement.
Or for the bottom of her proverbial cup to fall out.
The point is, she’s waiting.
Every woman I know is waiting for something.
And what can I say to her?
What words can ease that all too familiar sting of the stuckness?
Sometimes even words of true wisdom come too soon.
They seem too trite to touch the softest parts of our heart. The mushy, vulnerable parts that only a privileged few even get to see.
Many an otherwise-goodwilled and gracious woman ends up wanting to punch people in the face.
Because well-intentioned or not, some words of “wisdom” or “perspective” hurt more than they heal, especially for a woman fragile from the waiting.
After much deliberation, and time, and prayer and reflection, not to mention sitting around in my own waiting room, there is only thing I have to say to the other women, waiting with me.
And boy do I mean it.
It’s not nearly enough granted; I know that.
But maybe, it’s a start.
We all know it.
We have all been there.
So why are we so reluctant to admit it?
It’s infuriating, feeling helpless. Feeling trapped.
Imprisoned not by chains, but by circumstances.
I’ve been told that waiting is character building. And I have indeed seen women transformed by painful seasons of waiting.
They’re not always changed for the better, though. That’s something else that rarely gets said.
Time alone doesn’t heal all, fix all.
In fact, time can be a great breeding ground for bitterness.
As a fave rom-com puts it, “Time wounds all heals.” And it totally can, if we’re not careful.
But waiting doesn’t have to be a time for cultivating contempt, for throwing a pity party, or for picking at wounds that have just started to scab over.
It is possible to hear something other than our metaphorical clocks taunting us.
It’s possible to hone in on something other than opportunities that seem to be passing us by.
There is a subtle choice that presents itself in the waiting room.
It’s an invitation that arises so quietly, so covertly, it’s no wonder it often gets overlooked.
But it’s there nonetheless; it’s a choice to dwell on something bigger than our suffering, something truer than our feelings.
It’s a choice to recognize Someone at work, even there, in the waiting.
That Someone is a great Physician and a Healer, and He isn’t leaving you alone in that crowded, germ-infested waiting room.
He isn’t with another patient.
He’s not some wizard hiding behind a curtain, who delights in keeping people in the dark.
He’s right there alongside you, Someone who knows well what it means to wait.
He promises to diagnose and treat your deepest hurts.
But even more comforting, He also empathizes better than anyone, and He takes joy in sitting with you.
He is honored to wait patiently with you.
Even when your patience has long run dry.
Because He delights in being there for you, and He longs to be there with you.
That's what I know to be true, even when I don't feel it. At all.
I think one of the peskiest truths about life is that we get to make a great many choices – which bread to buy, what music to listen to, which friends to confide in, where to vacation this summer – and yet, ultimately, we have relatively little control in how our lives turn out.
We can’t predict when it will rain, when someone will die, which of our friends will be first to get pregnant, or which celebrity marriage will last the longest.
We can’t foresee what lies on the road ahead, only make the best decisions we can based on the information we’re given.
So much of life is about taking leaps of faith and hoping for the best.
Which goes against so much of what I want.
(Uh, predictability. Comfort. A detailed, dated plan.)
Sure, we can plan. We can research. We can pray. We can seek guidance.
And we should, absolutely, do all those things I think.
But at some point we also have to swallow the tough pill we’re all given, which is that we can’t control everything, no matter how hard we try.
Things are not in our control.
And we choose how we respond to them.
This has been such a tough week for so many.
A tough week that has followed tough months for so many women I know.
My heart breaks for the women who have lost homes, loved ones, all sense of security after the storms that have ravaged so many parts of our country. (Did I mention I originally wrote this TWO years ago, after tornadoes had hit? Sad and funny how true it all still is.)
Just as my heart still aches for those women I know that will spend another Mother’s Day aching for a baby to fill their arms. Another Valentine’s Day wondering when/if their Prince Charming will come. Another day wondering when the darkness will lift from their souls, and they will be able to smile again without pretending.
I don’t know exactly what you are going through, or what you need.
I only know that I’ve been trying to “finish” this post since February (2013!!!!), painstakingly pouring over every word, but I keep stopping short.
'Cause it still feels so small. So not enough to address the hurts we are feeling.
Truth is words will never be enough. Still, sometimes they need to be said just the same.
And these words are the ones I most need to say.
To my friends, to my family, and to myself, here in the waiting:
It’s okay to feel bad, stuck, or even pissed (gasp!) about being here.
You are human, plain and simple. Feelings of frustration come with having flesh.
True friends – the ones you trust with the softest parts of your heart - know they won’t be able to make everything better. (They know ‘cause they’ve been there too.)
So they won’t try to put a Bandaid on your deepest hurt, unless maybe it’s a really cute one that they know will make you smile.
But they will be willing to sit with you in the waiting. To be stuck with you. To cry with you.
(And to, let’s face it, eat as much ice cream/cookie dough/Paleo-friendly diet dessert you think is needed.)
Just because we can’t always change our circumstances doesn’t mean we can’t change.
Sometimes we need to act, for our own sanity.
We need to do something, to fill the waiting.
We can volunteer to babysit. We can pick up a hobby. We can revisit an old love (like sewing, or softball).
We can encourage others by sending cards, saying prayers, showing up with a hug and flowers. (Never underestimate the power of flowers!)
We can even make demands, if we need to. To barter, to beg. To scream “Enough.”
To plead our case, on our knees before God, even if we doubt He hears.
Even in the moments it doesn't feel like He cares.
And I don’t say that as someone who has ever won a fight with God, but because the quickest way to get through conflict isn’t to dance around it. Unfortunately.
Sometimes we think He can’t handle what we really want to say. We think wrestling with him would be like starting a WWE Smackdown in the middle of a Sunday School class, or screaming at those stupid portraits of Jesus as a Brad Pitt-haired, blue-eyed Jesus.
But God is so much bigger than the boxes and buildings we try to stuff Him in.
He’s also a lot tougher than the softie, oil painting Jesus we’ve grown up with in those quiet church halls.
If He could conquer death, and the pain and humiliation of hanging on a cross, He must be more than able to handle our hurts and anger. Right?
I sure think so. I trust so.
More than good Christian soldiers marching bravely on, I think He desires children that come freely to Him.
With their joys and their praises, sure. But with their pain and struggles too.
As much as my academic heart hates to admit it, all the work, all the research, all the effort in the world cannot ensure an outcome. (Unless we’re talking math, ugh math.)
No matter what we do, we can’t control the outcome of our actions. We definitely can’t control the world.
We can’t fix our friends’ circumstances anymore than we can fix our own.
The sooner we accept this, the sooner we’re able to be the women our friends and family really need.
'Cause they don’t need Super Woman. They don’t need invincible, or infallible.
They need present. They need honest. They need human, strange (and liberating) as that may sound.
They need you. And they need me.
As we are. Fully ourselves.
Not hiding behind masks of strength, or stone walls.
Just us. Waiting women.
Reluctantly waiting women.
I could go on and on and on about this subject. I have already, geez, and I'm sure I will again.
‘Cause like it or not it’s something I’m learning a lot about.
But this feels like a start, at least. This feels like the right place and time to start.
Thank you for letting me say what I needed to.
I hope you might find some comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
I pray that you might discover ultimate Hope in a Counselor, Comforter and Friend that knows exactly what you’re going through, and promises not to leave you there alone.
But also in friends willing to sit with you, in the flesh, while you wait.