Working on Wait

Today in some religious circles is the day known as Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified on the cross.  It’s a difficult day for us to think about, and it was a difficult thing for the people Jesus lived with to witness, and even more difficult for Jesus who was human to experience.  He felt what we would feel if we were crucified, He didn’t hide from the pain or use his powers as the Son of God to deflect or bypass it.  From all the records we know it was a brutal experience, which was kind of the point.  But Jesus knew what He was getting into going in because He’s Gods’ Son, and He also knew what was yet to come: the Resurrection and Easter Sunday.

We don’t always know what the end result will be in situations in our lives.  Sometimes we hope that the end we want is what will happen, sometimes we just hope for some kind of good result, other times we’re resigned to what is most likely to come.  There will always be a result, sometimes it will be what we want or hope for, other times it’s not.  But what we have to do is what Jesus did for 3 days: wait.

It’s not easy to wait, especially when we’re anticipating good things like Easter baskets or Christmas morning.  It’s also hard to wait when we know we’re faced with a not so good ending like the death of a loved one from a disease or the loss of our job when a company takes ours the one we work for.  In our fast paced world we like when things move at the speed of the internet or a fast food restaurant.  One of the reasons we wait is because while we could have a result quicker, sometimes to get to the best result it takes more time.  We’ve managed to do a lot to make things work better and happen faster in the world with all of our innovations, but two of the things we haven’t affected yet is the ability to affect the days and the time.  We’re still bound by the rules of the universe when it comes to them.

But there’s no rule that says you have to be miserable while you wait or not work towards good outcomes even if the only likely result that can occur is not a happy one. But we can make all the moments up to and following that event good ones.  I think one of the things that helped Jesus through His suffering was knowing what was on the other side of it.  We may not know what’s on the other side of our pains and life challenges, but we can certainly have the attitude that whatever it is, we’ll be able to work through it with God’s help and the help of the people in our lives.

Moving Forward to September

As we transition from this month to a new one (can you believe it?!) it has me thinking a bit about a topic that we talk about often: being thankful. Maybe you’ve had the kind of month that you’re really thankful to be getting out of it. Maybe it has taken all of your patience this month to deal with it and the people in it.  Maybe you’re sorry to see the month go for the usual reason, the end of summer, even if it wasn’t a great month for you.  Maybe you’re glad to see it go because it means the kids are finally out of your hair and back to school.  Or maybe you’re thankful for the end of this month because it means that you’ve enjoyed another month of life and are heading into a new month of opportunities and hope.  I’m not really sure where August went, but we can’t get it back.  The only thing we can do is move forward.

Move forward with patience: this month we’ve talked about patience, and I think what I’ve learned most of all is that even though I’m a patient person things have been taking way longer than I want them to.  It’s frustrating to know that I didn’t get half of what I wanted to done this month (again).  But there have been some good reminders and I’ve learned how to apply patience in each day.  I’m learning to double check things before I send them, go with my gut when it tells me to wait or to move, give people enough time to deal with the stuff in their lives while waiting for them to get back to me and understand that a month is a very short time in the scheme of things and I can pursue my dreams anew this next month.

Move forward with wisdom: one of the things I’ve been hearing over and over this month is about the important role that mentors have played in people’s lives.  I’m thankful that more people are finally jumping on board and admitting that they don’t know everything and they need help.  There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know everything, shame plays a role when you’re too stubborn or arrogant to admit that you need the help.  Who are the people and organizations you learn from and turn to on a regular basis?

Move forward because life is a gift:  I was passing by the TV and heard them talking about a man who passed away at 72 who was the picture of health and had always joked about living to 100.  You don’t know how long you have, each day could be your last.  Is it really worth it to spew that hate or write off that family member?  I don’t think so.  I think we should be making choices in our lives, relationships, careers and futures that are healthy, whole, sustaining and fulfilling.  There’s no point to wasting today if you don’t know you have tomorrow.

What do you hope September holds for you?

Waiting for God

We’re in the last few days of this month and our talk about the topic of patience.  One of the most challenging topics when thinking about patience is waiting for God.  Being how all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-doing God is, it’s hard to understand why He wouldn’t rather resolve things sooner rather than later.  Sure you can talk about the lessons we learn and timing not being right, but the longer things take to happen the more we worry that God didn’t hear us or that His answer is that He’s not going to do anything.  Of course as I was thinking about how the month is ending it reminded me of our patience running out and what happens when we get there.

Sometimes when our patience runs out we act without thinking or do things that we’ve been thinking about for a while but haven’t decided to act on because we aren’t sure they’re the right thing to do.  Sometimes we do the thing that we should have done all along and just didn’t have faith in ourselves to know what was really right, so it took reaching the end of our patience to make it happen.  Other times reaching the end of our patience means we didn’t trust God’s timing and will enough to wait for Him to act.  Knowing the difference and which one is right for your current situation isn’t easy.

As I was thinking about this I read 1 Thessalonians 5:24 which says “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” So what’s the answer?  The answer is to constantly work on your relationship with God so that you’re always ready to hear His guidance in when He’s telling you to act and when to wait.  It may sound simple, but you know it’s not always easy to devote the time and attention to that relationship with everything else going on in your life.  It means not just praying about the patience-related situation, but about other things that you and God are working on.  It means reading passages from the whole Bible, while still returning to the one giving you peace, hope and encouragement right now.  It means attending meetings, seminars and classes and services about more than just your current topic of struggle.  It means reaching out and supporting others who are in need, not just focusing on your situation.  What is God working on with you in your life and are you truly able to receive His leading?

Putting Patience into Practice

A couple weeks ago I shared a blog post with some quotes about the topic of this month: patience. Today I’m going to unpack a few of those quotes and share some more insights on patience as we head towards the end of this month.

“Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.” Paulo Coelho

I love this quote because it speaks to something that many people struggle with: paying attention. Yes, there are real medical conditions that cause people to struggle with their attention, but there are countless more of us who struggle not because of a medical condition, but because we’re too busy to pay attention or don’t care enough to pay attention. When patience is a skill that we live our lives with, not only are we more intentional about what we do, we’re also able to get the full picture quicker and better because we’re paying attention and not letting ourselves get sucked in by the distractions around us.

“Trying to understand is like straining through muddy water. Have the patience to wait! Be still and allow the mud to settle.” Lao Tzu

In the first quote we talked about not paying attention, and this quote speaks to something right in line with that: not seeing the truth about reality. Yes, the truth is that in the quote the water is muddy. But the truth that can be revealed after the water settles could be much more important than the fact that when water mixes around it gets muddy, for example when hunting for gold.   Are you rushing to see things and settle for the muddy water revelations, or willing to wait for true clarity?

“Patience gives your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time that they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the rough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure. Stephen Kendrick

Sometimes I think we do forget and live a double standard, expecting leniency for ourselves but holding others to a much higher standard.  If anything it should be reversed.  But one of the most challenging and important relationships we can have is that of our romantic relationships. If you really want a satisfying relationship learn the skills of patience and forgiveness.  Yes, everyone should have limits and boundaries, but if you are really committed to the relationship you should be able to work through things before they get to the point of hitting the limit.

What great insights about patience do you have or have you read lately?

When God Takes Too Long

This month one of the topics we’ve been talking about is patience. The big question around patience is always “but what if things are taking too long?”  I agree, sometimes it seems like things are taking too long, especially in our fast paced, fast food, high speed internet world.  While I think by far and large we can slow down with most things, some things definitely benefit from being attended to as quickly as things can be in this day and age, like national disasters, missing people and health issues like Zika.  But waiting 30 minutes to get quality food, especially if you don’t have to cook or grow it yourself seems to seriously pain some people.  I understand we all have things going on in our lives, but sometimes the only thing that can be done is to wait and see.

One of the biggest challenges around waiting is when we’re waiting on God for something.  It can seem like God is taking forever to respond to our prayers, especially since He hears them instantly.  Sometimes God is waiting for us to do something, but all too often it’s just not time.  It’s not easy to wait, especially if you think the answer God is sending is that He’s not sending that miracle cure/job/person/child/freedom or whatever it is you’re praying for or would be an answer to your prayers.  Sometimes the answer is “no.”  Hearing the “no” is almost easier than hearing “wait” because it means we’ve been given an answer and aren’t waiting for things to happen or work in perfect order.

Fortunately or unfortunately, more often it seems like the answer is to wait.  Yes, that gives us hope that a solution is coming, but still challenges us to work on our patience and do what God has called us to do in the meantime.  If you’re in a waiting period, find comfort and hope in the words of Isaiah 60:22: “When the time is right, I, the Lord, will come quickly. I will make these things happen.”  You’ve probably experienced it at least once, that when God gets going, things really move. Sometimes things are revealed over time, other times it’s so fast you almost can’t see it happen.  So if you’re praying and waiting today I encourage you to continue to live your life and to be prepared for things to happen when God’s time is right.  Don’t be discouraged by the “wait”, instead, prepare for what is coming.

Following the Flow of Life

I’ve been taking a lot of time to consider life and the future for the past few weeks.  I’ve been taking some downtime and trying to regain perspective on what life means to me and what my place is in it.  I’ve been reminded that everyone gets tired at points throughout their life.  Sometimes we get tired because we’ve been trying to fight the current and go against the grain.  While sometimes it’s the thing to do to get through to the bigger victory, other times fighting and resisting the natural flow of things really hurts you and keeps you from moving forward.

I’ve always been a path-less-traveled type of person, but the past few weeks have got me thinking about whether I’m on the right path or if I’ve been resisting the path.  Because even when we’re talking about “the path less traveled”, there’s still a path of some kind to follow.  One of the conclusions I came to is that when you’re busy fighting against the flow (or just trying to stay afloat) you can miss the path or get distracted and forget that you’re on a path.  Sometimes life does throw big blocks into your life like big health crisis or moving from one side of the country to another.  One challenge we have is staying on point as we navigate over/through/around those blocks.  Most of us get through OK, but not without a few scratches.

If you’re feeling tired this week I encourage you to take a look around and make sure that you’re not uselessly fighting against the current.  Make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings, the pressures in your life and have the support to work through what’s in your life.  If you are being blocked or fighting the current, learn the lesson you’re there to learn and get back on track as soon as possible.  You never know how much life you have left, so make sure to care for the life you have.

“It is always what I have already said: always the wish that you may find patience enough in yourself to endure, and simplicity enough to believe; that you may acquire more and more confidence in that which is difficult, and in your solitude among others. And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is right, in any case.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

Parts of Patience

As I’ve been finding quotes to share on social media and thoughts to inspire posts here on the blog I’ve found lots of quotes about our topic of this month, patience, too many to share in other ways, so I thought I’d do a post of great quotes to get you thinking about what patience could be for you.

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”  A.A. Milne

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”  Paulo Coelho

“Patience is a conquering virtue.”  Geoffrey Chaucer

“Patience is power.  Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”   Fulton J. Sheen

“Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.”  Paulo Coelho

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”  Henri J.M. Nouwen

“Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language.  Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”  Rainer Maria Rilke

“Patience gives your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time that they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the rough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure.  Stephen Kendrick

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.  We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.  We should like to skip the intermediate stages.  We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.  And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time.”  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“The world gives us PLENTY of opportunities to strengthen our patience. While this truth can definitely be challenging, this is a good thing. Patience is a key that unlocks the door to a more fulfilling life. It is through a cultivation of patience that we become better parents, powerful teachers, great businessmen, good friends, and a live a happier life.”  Steve Maraboli

“Inner peace is impossible without patience. Wisdom requires patience. Spiritual growth implies the mastery of patience. Patience allows the unfolding of destiny to proceed at its won unhurried pace.”   Brian L. Weiss

“Trying to understand is like straining through muddy water. Have the patience to wait! Be still and allow the mud to settle.”  Lao Tzu

What wise words have you heard recently about patience?