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Waiting Sucks …. and how to embrace it

Minimalist Kids - Lily“It’s hard to be patient sometimes” – Lily

My need for patience seems pretty high right now, and I will be honest, it hasn’t been really easy. It seems there is always something to be waiting for or looking forward to – pay day, vacation, a life change, the weekend, or even just a coffee break.

What are you waiting for?

Sometimes as adults we can keep our waiting hidden but with kids waiting seems like a painful process. My kids are counting the days till the start of November, they are counting the days till my daughters birthday in November, and they are counting the weeks till we fly home to America for Christmas (12 weeks).

I have been struggling with waiting. As I write we have applications out all over the world for English teaching positions and our current contract is up in 3 months.  I am seeing plane tickets edge up in price but aren’t sure how to purchase our tickets (1-way, round trip, multi-city).  Last weekend the difference between a 1-way ticket home from Beijing and a round trip ticket was only $10!  Between that and not knowing dates for sure, I am just waiting.

There comes a point where you have done all you can and then you just have to wait – and it seems to happen often. Wait for the savings account to slowly grow, wait for education to finish, wait for a diet or exercise to be effective, wait for another person to make a decision, or wait for the right opportunity to open up.

“I just can’t wait” is something we are hearing a lot around our house lately and it got me thinking.

This idea of ‘can’t wait’ is living in the future and it is ignoring the gifts of today.

We don’t have control over time.  It comes and goes like it always has no matter how much we worry or hope.  Really, all we can do is watch it pass.  But in the waiting we have gifts.

Gift #1

First we have the gift of now.  The present time we have we will only have once.  For us, it means this is the ‘now’ we have in a Chinese city we will be leaving in a few months.  It is the ‘now’ of homeschooling our kids at this age.  It is the now of living, playing, learning to teach, exploring, making friends, learning the language, and trying to grow personally.  This now won’t come again.

Be it good or bad, after it is past, none of it will be available again.  Sometimes it is easy to focus on the bad in the ‘now’ and wish it away, but in every ‘now’ there is also good, or good that can be found, enjoyed, and learned from.

Gift #2

Second we have the gift of anticipation.  It is easy to see waiting as almost painful and wishing it away, but when the moment comes, it passes too fast.  Anticipation is often (at least) half the fun.  The dreaming, planning, talking about, and counting down to a vacation, or a holiday, or to another fun event is exciting! Even the anticipation of finishing a course or completing a difficult task feels bigger than the actual event.

Dream and enjoy the anticipation while realizing it is part of the process, part of the gift you are waiting for.

Maybe you’re not looking into the future unsure about your employment after the next few months, and maybe you aren’t waiting for a taste of your favorite American foods and seeing friends and family.  But in looking back in my past I realize how much of my life I spend waiting.

The waiting part is probably not something that can change.  I never want to only live in ‘the now’ but I want to appreciate the time spent waiting for what it really is and not lose site of the moments I am given.

Time will come and pass without my effort or any of my control.  I can choose to be bothered by it, or enjoy the journey 🙂

What are you waiting for?  Can you find ways to enjoy the wait?

I asked the family about this and we came up with the following:

The favorite things we are enjoying now: Bryon – Photo opportunities in a small Chinese city, Lorilee – practicing Chinese with my students, Lily – The street food by our college, Ian – street food by our college (it is really good)

The things we are looking forward to: Bryon – Chipotle, Lorilee – … yeah, probably Chipotle too, Lily – black olives and Grandma’s cooking, Ian – black olives, Grandma’s cooking, cheese, seeing Sophie and her brother, seeing Ryan…. (he got the idea and had quite a list)

12 Comments

  1. Kathy Kathy

    I am waiting for our business to pick up, so we can pay our bills & not lose the business…..it’s hard.

    • yeah, we were self-employed in construction for the 5 years before moving to China… I understand…

  2. Waiting for my grandaughter to come home from the NICU. She is progressing nicely but this has been very scary and hard for her mom.

  3. Michelle Michelle

    Ah yes, reminds me of a quote from JR Miller:

    “It requires much more courage to stand and wait and still not lose heart or lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up opportunities for work and leave honors to others, and to be quiet, confident and rejoicing while the busy multitude goes happily along their way. The greatest life is ‘after you have done everything, to stand.’ (Ephesians 6:13)”

  4. Hello Lorilee,I agree with your observations about waiting. It’s so important to not miss what’s happening in the now!

    Enjoyed your post!

  5. Kalvin Tuel Kalvin Tuel

    I really liked this article. It reminds me of what my mom always told me, “Enjoy the journey. Whether what you are doing is hard or not the journey is where all the fun and interest in life is.”
    Thank you for sharing.

  6. My mom always used to tell me, “Stop wishing your life away.” At the time I found it annoying, of course, but now I get it.

  7. Lindsay Lindsay

    Great thoughts, Lorilee!! 🙂

  8. Nancy Nancy

    Yes ! I like those thoughts about the gifts of waiting. I think much of life’s misery can be attributed to wishing for and longing for or waiting for something that is just out of our reach. But then there is the precious present that all of us live in. I like those gifts. The gift of enjoying what’s happening now and the gift of anticipation. When it comes to the future I think I’m like a control freak. I want to know for sure of what’s going to happen and what I can plan for. But then, at least in my experience, life never happens like I plan, I think there’s a good reason why God doesn’t let us see and control our future. He wants us to learn patience and trust in Him rather than in ourselves. He wants us to anticipate the many awesome and exciting surprises He has for us. So after doing what I can I will enjoy today and leave tomorrow in HIS hands. It will be wonderful to see you all again! Whenever you come back to the USA.

  9. Mia Mia

    My husband and I have had a really difficult last few months. In the midst of the struggle, I remember wishing it would just stop. It didn’t. Instead, it unfolded and taught us so much, challenged us incredibly, and pushed each of us to be that much more grateful and fight to value every moment we have. We got through the scary time by living in it, not hovering around it waiting for it to go away. Lorilee, your article made me remember that and for that I thank you.
    Love, Mia

    • You’re welcome 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment!

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