Waiting well isn’t easy, especially when we can’t see the end. Are you in a waiting season? 6 ways to to wait well when the season runs long.
March is historically the snowiest month in Minnesota. While we hope for spring, snow reminds us winter is still hanging on. However, March snow is different than February snow. March snow promises to melt.
Tomorrow, we’ll get at least 6 more inches on top of the 40 on the ground. Along with snow, the storm marks a turning point. We leave behind another week of subzero temps, we begin our spring break with a week of temperatures above freezing.
It’s a ‘Minnesota heat wave’! And proof of the promise that spring is coming.
Sometimes we find ourselves in waiting seasons. I’m in one now. Unlike the changing of yearly seasons, we can’t always know when the season will change. While spring will certainly occur over the next few months, change in my waiting season may not. Unfortunately, most of don’t know the length of our waiting and wilderness seasons.
Like the warring seasons of winter and spring in March, our waiting seasons often put up a fight. Change doesn’t happen overnight and can take months or even years.
What are we waiting for?
It’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s a husband, baby, job, healing, home or restoration of a relationship. Or a prayer that hasn’t been answered how you hoped so you’re still waiting. Whatever it is, it’s likely deeply personal and may be excruciatingly painful.
The promise of spring is always there. Yet the hardship of this season ebbs and flows. Although we experience moments of hope, encouragement and peace, we also struggle with the roller coaster of discouragement, frustrations and heartbreak. How we respond to waiting matters. We can choose to hate every bit of our winter season, but we pay an expensive price.
So how can we wait well?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer. I can’t honestly tell you that doing these 6 things is a fail-proof recipe to wait well. What we need while waiting to thrive is different for each of us. We are waiting for different things, and we have different natural responses. But these 6 things can increase our chances and give us some ideas to get back on track, or even begin waiting well.
1. Get Real
It’s easy to just stuff our feelings, isn’t it? We don’t want to wait and we don’t want to admit it’s hard to wait. We’re self-reliant. We’ve got this. So we minimize our struggle by comparing our wait to bigger things others face. We suck it up. Our problems aren’t as big as theirs.
Unfortunately, denying our feelings and emotions only makes them bigger. As we hold them in, they grow and fester and we open the door to bitterness. Furthermore, stuffed feelings manifest in our relationships, spewing out sideways at people we love.
Yesterday, I demonstrated this well with my husband and kids. I was irritable, emotional, and my responses were more intense than the situations that were happening. It wasn’t pretty. Something about the day left me feeling weary and fed up with this waiting season. I’m thankful for their grace and forgiveness.
The intensity of my emotions left me wondering what was wrong with me! I ended the day in a time of reflection and prayer, asking God to show me what was going on.
Sweet friends, acknowledging feelings we’ve been hiding or ignoring may not feel good; in fact, it’s safe to assume it won’t. Opening the door to emotions we’ve locked away and don’t really want to feel is scary and can be intense. But we must.
One of the most beneficial things to do when feeling that wave of emotions is to lament to God. It can feel weird to pour out feelings that feel big, messy and confusing to a perfect God. But it’s also very freeing. God already knows it all. And He is big enough, capable enough, and strong enough to listen.
God is the safest person to trust with your heart. Those feelings you don’t want to admit and those words you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone else that you’ve only thought in your head? God already knows them. So get them out. Whisper them, cry them, or write them to the God who knows it all and is ready and able to help you cope with them.
Naomi is a great example of someone who lamented in scripture. She told God how she felt about the losses endured in Moab. Although some of her words feel like complaints and like she had lost faith, she was honest. And she followed God through her wilderness season. When on the other side, she praised God, recounting His faithfulness. This article on Lament on Desiring God discusses Naomi’s lament and is a great resource if you aren’t sure where to start.
There are also plenty of examples in the Psalms where writers have poured out their hearts to God, not holding back their confusion, pain, suffering or hope. God can handle our big, messy emotions. And He graciously included the Psalms to show us He won’t reject us.
3. Be in Community
God made us to be in relationship with Him and with others. We need community, especially when we’re struggling.
While a few people may notice and pick up on our struggle, many need us to reach out and share our hearts to feel comfortable stepping in. When we invite others into our waiting, they can offer comfort, prayers, encouragement, and empathy. They sit with us as we cry, speak truth when we get off track, and extend help in ways we didn’t think to ask.When we invite others into our waiting, they offer comfort, prayers, encouragement, and empathy. They sit with us as we cry, speak truth when we get off track, and extend help in ways we didn't think to ask. #waiting #waitwell… Click To Tweet
Who can wait with you? What friends will you share your heart with? Are there couples who can walk alongside you and your husband? What wise woman can you ask to mentor you? Identify the people who can help you wait well.
Start today! Think of one person, then take the first bold step of sharing what is going on. Be honest. Ask for prayer. You don’t have to wait alone.
4. Watch Expectantly
Behold, I am doing a new thing;Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
When waiting, it’s easy to get fixated on the one thing God hasn’t delivered yet and miss all the other things He’s up to. Just because we don’t have the husband, baby, home, job, healing or relationship restoration we’re praying for yet, doesn’t mean God isn’t doing other things in the meantime.
Ask God to open your eyes to the things He is doing while you wait. Look for God’s kindness in your daily life. Step back and look for the ways He works in your ordinary days when it seems like God is silent. Look for areas of fear and doubt where He is giving you victory.
When you notice God’s handiwork, write it down. Start a gratitude or prayer journal. Writing how God is working in your life down allows you to recount God’s faithfulness when the waiting wilderness seems unending and hopeless. God is with you while you wait.Writing how God is working in your life down allows you to recount God's faithfulness when the waiting wilderness seems unending and hopeless. Click To Tweet
5. Do Something
Do you ever get fixated on what you’re waiting for? I do. The wait can consume our thoughts and leave us feeling unproductive and stuck.
To break out of the funk, do something. Find a place to serve in your church or community. Volunteer with kids, packing meals, or visiting people who are alone. Parents can volunteer at their child’s school, and anyone can mentor a child.
If you have a lot of time on your hands at home, start that spring cleaning, or home improvement project. Paint your favorite room. You probably won’t have time for it when you’re doing waiting. Or, read a book that encourages you. Write. Pick up that hobby you stopped or learn a brand new skill. And, of course, use some of that free time for prayer and in the Word.
This isn’t being productive to feel valuable. Our worth isn’t in what we do, but in Whose we are. Instead, it’s using the time we have now to do something worthwhile, rather than spending it pining away for tomorrow.
6. Lean In
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”John Steinbeck
When we feel God leading us towards something but we’re still waiting, it can be confusing. It’s tempting to give up. But unless God is clearly saying ‘No’, we are to keep waiting. With expectant hope.
Are you waiting today? We can wait together. Without this season of waiting, the day we get what we hope for wouldn’t be as sweet. There is purpose in our waiting, even when it seems fruitless.
With hope in mind, we can embrace these challenges, the mess and our emotions and ask God to walk with us through it all. We can cling to Jesus in the winter as we hope for spring. Even when it’s hard, we can lean in.
Our circumstances may not change as quickly as we want, or demand, but our hearts can stay warm. We experience God’s provision, comfort and peace in the wait when we ask Him to help us wait well.Our circumstances may not change as quickly as we want, or demand, but our hearts can stay warm. We experience God’s provision, comfort and peace in the wait when we ask Him to help us wait well. #waiting #thisgratefulmama #prayer Click To Tweet
“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.”Deuteronomy 2:7 (ESV)
Like the Israelites in the wilderness, God will provide everything we need. At times, it will be hard to feel Him or see His provision, but we can be certain He is there. He is near.
One day, we will be able to look back on His faithfulness. We probably won’t get all the reasons for our wait, but we will know God was with us. For now, He promises to faithfully show up, comfort and provide as God walks with us through the winter. There’s always the hope of spring.
When spring comes, it will be much sweeter because our winter was so long!
Today, sweet friends, not matter how long we have to wait, we can say with confidence. Let it snow!
Lord, This waiting season feels too long. We know you’re with us, but sometimes it’s hard to see you clearly. Help us lean in to your presence and Word and give us undivided hearts for you. Draw us close when our waiting season feels unending. Thank you for the gift of community; show us who can walk with us through this season. Please send encouragement and help. And people who are willing to tell us what we need to hear. We trust your plans are good. Show us how you are working in our lives now so we don’t miss what you’re teaching us while we wait. Help us wait well. Amen.
Are you in a waiting season? Tell us one thing you’re doing that helps you wait well.
Lamenting is Not Admitting Defeat, Kirsten Ryken, The Gospel Coalition
5 Things Waiting on God Taught Me, Erin Ford, Power to Change
Why Waiting Patiently is Super Important to Our Faith, Julie Loos, Unmasking The Mess
What to Do While You’re Waiting for Breakthrough, Alisa Nicaud, Flourishing Today