Photo by John Salvino
I never understood why people came to a waiting room without preparing to wait patiently. I worked in a doctor’s office for about 19 years. The doctor did hospital rounds back then. There were many opportunities for delays before he got to the office. Sometimes a patient went bad in the office.
It always surprised me that people didn’t plan to wait calmly. Some did. They brought a book to read, or notes to write or a craft to work on. That was before cell phones. It’s even easier now. Others brought nothing and if there was a delay, they were miserable! Not only that, they tended to make the people around them miserable as well. Some quietly complained to the people around them. But others would go back and forth to the desk asking where the doctor was, rechecking about their appointment or stomping around the waiting room impatiently. (As if that was going to somehow make the process move quicker. It didn’t.) Then, when they were called back, they usually had sarcastic comments to make…or at times, direct comments to make to the staff. But to the doctor? They were sweet as sugar!
We can’t plan ahead for every waiting room, but we can adjust our attitude once we find ourselves having to wait.
We certainly can’t plan ahead for all the waiting rooms in life. However, we can find ways to deal with our attitudes when we have to wait. If that doesn’t come easily…and it doesn’t for most of us. How often do we have relational situations that just have to play out? They aren’t going to be resolved in a day or even a week. The heart of the other person is going to have to change and maybe our heart will need some changing too. Attitudes don’t change on command. It takes time…even for Christians! We do ourselves and those around us a disservice when we expect something different. We are living, breathing human beings, not robots.
But we can’t change, nor should we, in terms of who we are in our essence…Do we like the arts? We should continue to do so and not pretend we don’t. Are we athletic? Then enjoy them and be around people who do. Don’t try to be something or someone you aren’t…particularly when looking for those friends that you want to spend fun doing things with. Choose a waiting room with people you enjoy being around so you can do things together for fun. Sometimes, we need distraction from those things we need to wait for.
What about life events we have to wait for, but have little control over when they will happen, if ever?
There may be life events that you are waiting for but over which you have little control. Most of us at this point are not waiting to get pregnant, but there may be things like that, that we are waiting for. There is just so much we can do. We do our part, then we have to wait for nature to take its course…or consider other options. While we are waiting, we may find it helpful to get involved in an activity or interest group that helps others that are waiting for the same thing or we may want to serve a group that is struggling such as foster children or abused children or organizations that serve them. Being involved in serving others takes our attention away from ourselves and what we are worried about or waiting for. It also deepens us as we get to know more about a group or organization that is reaching out to others. It keeps us busy as we wait but we aren’t idle.
I think you get my point. We all have disappointments in life. We don’t get to marry when we had planned, maybe not at all. We don’t get to have a child when we had hoped, if ever. We don’t get the job we wanted…you name it. The list goes on. Over a lifetime, we can look back and see many disappointments. But we can also appreciate places where we were saved from some disastrous moves, some crazy decisions, some wild moves that we now realize would not have been good for us.
Thankfully, some of those things we did along the way to make our waiting more palatable caused us to meet people we never would have otherwise or be helpful to people we might never have touched otherwise.
We can also look back and be thankful for some of those things we did to help us wait during in-between times that now have turned into lifelong passions. Ministry to young women, caring for children as we took in foster children, being involved in a variety of aspects of the pro-life movement, involvement in seeking for justice in our community when it comes to race relations…you name it. There are many places you may have served including the day in and day out monotony of a regular job. Each place you served along the way taught you something. It took you out of yourself and helped you think of others as well. GOD used it in your life to deepen you and broaden you. He used it for good even though it felt like a desert at the time.
Wherever your waiting room, GOD had His purposes for you in it and He grew you through it.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more.
He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. A
s soon as he hears it, he answers you.
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction,
yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,”
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Isaiah 30:18-21 ESV