"If you can wait and not be tired of waiting..." – Rudyard Kipling's "If"
Oh, to wait. Waiting to wait. Just plain waiting.
"Waiting" conjures pictures of a damp grey station with tired and gloomy passengers hovering in limbo. "Waiting" awakens drab memories of a doctor's lounge with broken toys, brown curtains and dusty magazines that were old news in Abraham's day.
Let's be honest now; who likes waiting? The harried hostess waiting for that cake to bake or bread to rise, the anxious father waiting for his first baby to arrive, the giddy child waiting all night for mom and dad to wake on Christmas morning...
Too often, waiting seems to be a frustrating pastime that is, quite frankly, a waste of time.
What is waiting?
Waiting is a restless, empty, unproductive feeling, like a washing machine agitating with no laundry inside. It is a pause in the process. A gap in the happening. It is stretched out minutes and empty calendars and obnoxiously, ridiculously, tortuously slow clocks.
Waiting invites frustration, uncertainty, and often loneliness. It is a tasteless slice of the time pie. An "in-between moments" moment in which something we are expecting or anticipating has not yet occurred.
Waiting, waiting, waiting...
If I had a dollar for every hour I've had to watch wander slowly by, I'd be rich enough to pay someone else to wait for me.
Yet wait I do.
At some point in life, and much more than once, every one of us will encounter this annoying itch of the "not happening". And most of the time we will have no choice but to...wait.
So here I am. Yet again.
I am waiting.
Generally, my waiting consists of metaphoric thumb-twiddling or glass-eyed staring with hawk-like tenacity, never blinking until said event finally happens. Funnily enough, experience has taught me that it almost always will come to pass, but the waiting side of it eats me alive. If life chooses to take her own sweet time, then I am forced to go at her pace, a prisoner in another's timeline, whether I like it or not.
Yet on this non-momentous occasion, as I resigned myself to waiting (yet again) on a much-anticipated event (yet again) that had been delayed (yet again) and was thoroughly and unapologetically beyond my control of time, events and the universe in general... a new thought struck me.
Why am I putting life on probation?
God knows that I am waiting. He knows that I am yearning. And he knows that, just around the corner, there is a faint but very real glimmer that will shed new light into every corner of this gloom.
But in the meantime, does He really just expect me to warm the seat on which I wait?
What if I were to open my eyes and look around me? What if I were to lighten the heavy wait of another? What if I were to purposely find some good to do, and then just get on with it and do what's good?!
Waiting, I realise, is not the main event. Life does not halt while waiting marches past. In fact, life goes blithely on without waiting for the waiting to be done with, well, waiting.
And once I come to grips with this fact, I can blithely carry on too. I don't need to wait in order to live life to the full. I don't need to pause production or have every colour at my disposal before I begin to draw my picture.
The thing I want and need may not yet be, but that definitely has nothing to do with whether or not I will be. Because I am already happening.
So here I am: I am waiting. But I am never only waiting.
I am being.
You see, I have determined not to sit in neutral, idling my engine. I am choosing not to be bored, or weary, or trapped in that grey and dreary station. I am not throwing my hands up in despair. I am not flitting off to join another queue.
I am still waiting, but what I await is on the sideline, not on centre stage. And while this culmination for which I wait clearly needs a little more time, I am seeking and learning and growing and just – just living!
And suddenly, waiting is no longer a swear word. Or a dreaded "to do" task at which I cringe. Or a tiresome tick of the clock that I face with sighing resignation.
Waiting now is a new experience. Waiting now is an opportunity bursting with possibility. Waiting now is a time in which something is definitely happening:
Emma is an Italian-South African with a New Zealand passport, living in Papua New Guinea. After years of running a puppet ministry and directing student choirs, she currently serves with Mission Aviation Fellowship. Emma's deep joy is in writing, music, playing with her ginger cats and finding God in unexpected places.
Emma McGeorge's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/emma-mcgeorge.html