I hate waiting. My desire to efficiently fill every open moment with a productive activity makes me twitch when I’m confronted with unexpected downtime. I just can’t stand the inefficiency of sitting there and doing nothing!
As a result, I’ve all but perfected the art of allocating my ever-present to-do list into slivers of time so as to fill each moment with an accomplishment.
Sometimes it’s worse than others. I get antsy in the drop-off line at school and start dusting the dashboard. I reapply lipstick at red lights. I take correspondence with me when I have doctor’s appointments so I can do it in the waiting room. I wipe down the counters in the kitchen while I’m waiting for my seven year old to write each spelling word. (There are 15 of them. He’s p-r-e-c-i-s-e about handwriting. I could basically clean the entire kitchen AND whip out a pot of homemade chicken stock while this is going on. God love that child.)
I am an expert time-filler.
But lately I’m beginning to think that maybe my efforts to this end are misguided. I’m starting to wonder if maybe there is magic in the waiting time. Purpose, even.
By filling every open second with an activity, am I missing the very moments that were designed to give me pause?
Little opportunities to practice waiting show up every day, but sometimes we’re confronted with a longer season of waiting. For Mr. Right. For the dream job to say yes. For the baby. For the illness to be healed. For the depression to lift. For the prodigal child to return.
It’s these that really test us, and these that make me even more certain that there is purpose in the waiting, meaning behind these periods stretching between two points of certainty – one in the past and one in the future. It’s not so much what we do in the meantime…it’s who we become.
As I write this, I’m flooded by memories of my attempts to convince an overtired toddler that it was time for a nap. Through protests, and wiggles, and requests for drinks and cuddles, I persisted in lulling that child to sleep because I knew the remainder of the day would be so much better if she had that nap.
What if we’re being asked to rest…to lie still…to wait…so that the rest of our life will be better?
There’s only one way to find out.