Learning to Wait Patiently

I should have remembered, though, that the life of the spirit is never static. We’re born on one level, only to find some new struggle towards wholeness gestating within. That’s the sacred intent of life, of God—to move us continuously toward growth, toward recovering all that is lost and orphaned within us and restoring the divine image imprinted on our soul. –Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

Sometimes Jesus Sits Right Next to Us

I’m pretty sure I sat next to Jesus the other day.

The day had not gone as expected. In fact, the last two Fridays have not gone as expected. I had planned all week to take Friday and make it a writing day. Close the binds. Turn off everything that dings and dongs and distracts. Pray for focus and flow. And, hopefully, initiate a new rhythm, regain momentum, and get all the ideas in my head on paper. With an upcoming Writer’s Conference on the calendar, I have been trying to prepare my pitches and proposals, in hopes of seeing book dreams become book deals.

But, life doesn’t always go as planned, does it? At least not as we plan.

More Time in the Waiting Room

Waiting Room #1: Two Fridays ago, at around 8:30am, I received a phone call from my momma. One week into her recovery from bronchitis, she started having agonizing back pain.

Something is wrong. I think I need to go to the doctor.

A few hours later, we were sitting in the waiting room of her primary care physicians. They were “fitting us in,” i.e., the morning turned into the afternoon.

Diagnosis: most likely a pulled muscle. Not good news, not bad news.

Prescription: Wait it out. Hot pad. Tylenol (Advil inadvisable for the elderly).

Oh my poor momma.

Waiting Room #2: This past Friday, at around 12:30pm, I received a phone call from my sweet husband.

“Hey, sweetie, how are you doing?” I asked.

“Not good. I hurt my back,” he said. “Are you home? I don’t know what to do. Can you give me my doctor’s phone number?”

Thankfully, they said “they could fit him in,” so he was en route to the doctor.

A few minutes later, he called from the parking lot of his physician, unable to get out of the truck and walk.

Not feeling well myself (later diagnosis: Sinus infection), I made my way. After a mad hunt to find a wheelchair, we made it to the waiting room. Our greatest concern was that he damaged the hardware from his back surgery in 2007.

Diagnosis: pulled muscles. No fractures. No damage to hardware.

Prescription: Drugs. Time. Hot pad. Rest. More drugs.

Learning to Wait Patiently

Waiting Room #3: About five o’clock, we made our way to the pharmacy to pick up the necessary drugs for alleviating Rob’s pain. It was crowded and warm and I didn’t want to be there. I’m not sure if you can read between the lines, but by now, I had spiraled down that dark abyss of frustrated plans that lead to utter selfishness. A very ugly place to be. I didn’t outwardly complain or moan or groan, but inwardly was quite a different scenario. The technician took my prescriptions and I sat down in one of the two chairs available. I put my purse in the chair next to me because I really didn’t want anyone next to me. A woman walked by twice, so I figured she wanted to sit down.

I moved my purse.

“I’m exhausted,” she said. “Totally exhausted.”

I didn’t respond. My inside voice was telling me to be nice. But I didn’t want to be nice.

She continued.

“I’ve been in the doctor’s office all afternoon. Had to wait two hours. Why do they make you wait two hours? I used to work in a doctor’s office and I know they don’t have to make you wait that long.”

“I feel your pain,” I nodded.

“I know. I mean waiting is exhausting, isn’t it? If I’m busy and productive, I have more energy. Waiting takes everything out of you. I’m going to collapse when I get home,” she said.

Right then and there, I knew she was Jesus. Yep, Jesus took the form of a rough-around-the-edges woman with a message just for me.

When I’m busy and productive, I feel so much better about myself. But this waiting stuff, it is exhausting. This putting my plans aside thing, it stinks.

Learning to Wait Patiently

Waiting Room #4: The next morning, I made my way to the doctor. As I sat in yet another waiting room, I had a little conversation with God (in my head, not out loud, so don’t worry).

Isaiah 55:8-9 (The Voice)

Eternal One: My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth.

  1. First, I apologized for my selfishness (1 John 1:9). Nothing is more important to me than my family.
  2. Second, I thought long and hard about the “holy” interruptions that seem to keep happening in my life. Maybe, just maybe, God is trying to tell me something. I just have to lean in and listen. Release myself from any self-inflicted pressure to be produce when perhaps it is not time to produce?
  3. Third, I need to choose another day to set aside time for writing. Fridays are not working (smile).

“Sometimes,” writes Anne Monk Kidd, “God guides us the long way round. And sometimes that means winding through a dark wood. It doesn’t mean we’re lost, however. The darkness is part of the trip. Too many of us panic in the dark. We don’t understand that it’s a holy dark and that the idea is to surrender to it and journey through to real light.”

Maybe you find yourself in yet another waiting room. A room that can be filled with frustrating whys and perplexing why nots and even more confusing periods of whens. Wasn’t it John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans?” Will you say a little prayer for me and I’ll say one for you? And, be aware, the person sitting next to you might be Jesus (smile).

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