This week my baby turns 13 one day and the day after that my husband and I will celebrate 21years of marital….ummm….marital peace. I can’t really say bliss because there have been a lot of moments full of non-bliss. We love each other more today than we did then and we respect each other on a whole new level. But we still argue and fight and disagree. And we’ve both learned to wait for the other through the dark times. Waiting.
Every mother will tell you that the character building trait of note is patience. She will also be the first to tell you that it is the thing most fleeting; the most elusive of all motherly traits.
We spend our lives waiting and learning how to do it well. And also learning how to maximize or completely waste the wait.
I have waited to be born and to give birth.
I have waited to go to school and to finish school.
I have waited to find love and to give love.
I have waited for good news and I have waited for bad news.
I have waited to be considered and to be valued.
I have waited in darkness and in light.
I have waited in anticipation and in dread.
Waiting has changed me and it has burdened me.
Waiting is so hard to do but one of the few things that brings the greatest rewards.
When you were a baby, you made your parents wait for you. Either in the process of conception, birth or firsts of many kinds.
You waited to be fed, burped, changed and loved.
As you grew you waited to learn, to read, to count, to write. You waited for brothers and sisters, for mom and for dad. You waited to go to school and to ride a bike. You waited for something every single day. And while you were waiting you were bored, lonely, scared, frustrated and maybe even angry. But you always waited with expectation.
We wait because we know that something is going to happen. And we know it will either be worth the wait or it will be dreaded and reviled but it will happen nonetheless.
Small children would seem to be the worst at waiting. But I would suggest that they actually wait well and have something to teach us all.
Consider this: A preschooler wants to eat but supper isn’t ready. You tell him to wait and although he may protest, he goes and finds something to do while he waits. Distraction.
A baby is hungry. What do you do? You shake the rattle, stuff the soother in her mouth, rock her, play peek-a-boo. Distraction.
A 6 year old is waiting for Daddy to come home. He asks every 15 seconds when the blessed event will happen. He pulls on your shirt. He whines and complains. None of that sounds like patient waiting but you give him a puzzle, a game, a coloring book. You get him to help you with supper. He is now….DISTRACTED.
Distraction doesn’t mean you forget what you’re waiting for. Distraction is simply the art of waiting well. If you’re going to wait, be productive. Get something done. Occupy your mind.
Isn’t it interesting how adults dread waiting but young children only wait for the good stuff?
Really. Let me rephrase that. Children don’t wait for bad news or negative outcomes. They don’t wait to be spanked or disciplined. They don’t anticipate the bad. They only wait for the good. When was the last time a child waited to be held back, pushed aside, disappointed or ashamed? Never. Children don’t wait for the negative. They only wait in anticipation for a reward. They wait for the HOPE of what is to come. Even if it never does, they still wait in baited wonder for what lies ahead.
Somewhere in the teen years we fail to wait in wonder. We miss out on the art of distraction~the preoccupation of anticipation is something we find juvenile and elementary so we trade it for fast-food, empty, hollow instant gratification that only satisfies for a little while. What would happen if we made ourselves wait in wonder?
Perhaps this is one of the failures of our generation. The lack of waiting.
My kids are growing up faster than I can blink. My baby will be 13 this week and now that thing we’ve been talking about for more than a decade is happening: Four kids~all teens….at the same time. 13-18. That might make some run screaming for the hills;Some days I cry because we’re done waiting for the growing up~it’s here. We talk a lot about boys(3 daughters will do that to you) . We talk a lot about the future and what our family might look like in 5 or 10 years. We anticipate weddings and babies and gatherings. It’s a fun time. But for now we’re all just waiting. And that’s just fine with me.
I remember being 17 and wondering when I would find someone to share my life with. I know. 17. Whatever. And yet, that’s what happens. We dream and create a fantasy of what we think we want and what we wish we had. We get impatient. We CAN. NOT. WAIT. Well, that’s what I thought anyway. But I did wait. I finished school, got a job, made some new friends, bought a car, got involved in church ministry, continued to live my life. I am not saying I waited well. In fact those who know me from that time might say I was completely in love with being in love. It’s kind of pathetic thinking back on that now. The obsession to be in a relationship is a very real ((problem)) for millions of teens every single day in this country. They walk around with their heads in the clouds and tripping over the daily grind. I used to buy brides magazines. Today, my 14 year old is Pinning a wedding board on Pinterest. I know~don’t even get me started.
But this is how we wait. We are like the preschooler who can’t have a snack yet~we want it now and we’re miserable but we can be distracted fairly easily. And that’s okay. As long as we keep waiting.
The lessons we learned at 3 and 6 and 10 are all worthy of remembering when we’re 15 and 17 and 21. Waiting means something good is going to happen. The longer we wait , the better the reward. You don’t enjoy the cookie that you can have right now as much as you enjoy the cookie that you’ve had to wait in anticipation for over the course of hours or days. You don’t savour the chocolate bar that is at your fingertips in the store nearly as much as the cheesecake you bake at home. You never appreciate the job that you get on the spot as much as the one you wait for , research, apply 3 times for.
Waiting makes you appreciate the process.
Waiting teaches you the value of what you have and what you’ll get.
Waiting also teaches you that life will often make you wait again.
Perhaps you’re waiting to find that special someone. Maybe you’ve been waiting a very long time~years, decades.
For every married man or woman who has had to wait months or even years to be intimate with their spouse~maybe because of illness, relationship struggles, the mundane trudging of raising kids and going to work or any other unforeseen adventure~waiting is something you HAVE to do in marriage. You will wait for your spouse to feel good. You will wait for them to want you. You will wait to be loved. You will wait to be touched. YOU. WILL. WAIT. Waiting is at the top of the 3 most important things you will ever do in your marriage along with commit and compromise.
So, teenagers and young people who are waiting. Waiting and hoping. Dreaming and waiting. Waiting and floundering~ continue to wait. Distract yourself if you must. Work, laugh, eat, socialize, make friends, go places, do things, be scared, cry, fidget, waste money, save money, engage yourself in wonder and wait. DON’T give in to the expectation that the world has laid out for you: jumping from one relationship to another, never waiting for something special, ditching one relationship because you’re bored and rushing into the next, sleeping with any or all of your prospects only to find that none of them will be there for the long haul….
If you want to be the very best spouse; if you want to have the very best love~wait for it. And while you wait , remember what it’s like to anticipate because those who wait well appreciate what they’ve waited for, far more than those who have never had to wait at all.
So what are you waiting for? Watch this…..