Life in the Waiting Room
Guest Post by Jamie Janosz
If you’ve visited here in the past couple of weeks, you know that we’re in the midst of a series on the subject of waiting. I started the conversation here with a little story about our Amelia, wreaking glorious havoc in the waiting room. And since then, we’ve been blessed to hear from others who have spent time in that place. They found the waiting hard. But they have also found that fire to be refining.
Today my colleague and good friend Jamie Janosz will share some of her story and some of her thoughts on the subject at hand. As she’ll tell you, she’s waiting right now. But she’ll also tell us about three key ways in which she has learned to wait well.
You can read more from Jamie on her blog.
Also check out her deeply inspiring, recently released first book, When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up.
Lately, it feels like my life has been all about waiting.
Our house has been up for sale for 90-plus days. We are waiting, hoping, praying for a buyer.
About five years ago, we started to talk about moving from Indiana to Florida. The move could bring us closer to my husband’s brother and to my mom and her husband who had recently adopted the “snowbird” lifestyle. The decision made practical sense in many ways.
Living near family would be helpful for us since my husband’s mom, who lives with us, is 86. While she is in good mental and physical health, we have been more worried about leaving her alone when we travel.
Plus, the fact that the weather in Chicago has been earning polar nicknames cemented our decision. How wonderful would it be to not have to wear a winter coat that looks like a sleeping bag? Or, to throw out our snow shovels and thermal gloves? Or, to go on outside walks all summer long.
So we made plans.
I prayed every morning as I drove to work. “Please God, if this is the right thing, make it happen. Please let me get the right job. Please let the move transition smoothly and care for all the details in a way that YOU think it should happen.”
For a while things moved smoothly ahead. While I did not get the jobs I applied to, I found that my current employer would let me work remotely in a new position. We sold my husband’s classic car, a boat, and a camper. We fixed up the house, downsized and put it on the market. We were steadily moving forward.
And then, everything seemed to stop. No sale. No offers.
My reaction? Discouragement. Frustration. Anxiety. It made us ask: Was this the right decision? Should we be moving? What if God was saying no?
So – today – I sit in that hard place of wait and see. It is like being in the waiting room at the doctor’s office where you wait and read really bad, outdated, wrinkled magazines on golfing and pregnancy, even though you don’t golf and aren’t pregnant.
I hate this place.
Most of the time I want to roll around kicking my feet in a two-year-old level tantrum. I want what I want, and I want it now. But the grown up me settles for sinking into a deep-level funk.
What should we do during times of waiting? How can we endure those moments without falling into a deep pit of despair? Even though I am by nature an optimist, I still find these times of prolonged dreams overwhelming. And, while I am not an expert, this is what I have found helpful:
Pray. I have been using my morning commute times to vent and pray and pour out my frustration to God, out loud. If you read the Psalms, you will find that they are actually filled with similar vents by David and others. Many begin with “How long Lord must I…?” Others ask: “Why do the righteous suffer?” God is willing to hear our honest cries. He wants to hear your pain, your sorrow, your frustration, your anger. And, I’ve found that talking to God helps. I give it all to him – my hopes, my fears, my worries. Let Him know where you are at. Let Him know that you are giving Him control. Ask Him for help in waiting.
Sing. Now I’m not a great singer – in junior high I took voice lessons to overcome my tendency to sing monotone. So, in kindness to others, I mainly sing alone in the shower or the car. But I love to sing hymns – the old ones that ground my soul and swell up my heart. I sing about trust and hope and joy. I turn off the news and allow my heart’s focus to shift.Here’s one that has been running through my heart and mind in the last months: “Simply trusting every day, trusting through the stormy way. Even when my faith is small, trusting Jesus, that is all.” Singing pushes me past my mental inward concentration and lifts my heart toward God. If I say it – even when I don’t actually believe it – I find myself headed toward a more trusting and positive attitude.
Live. I have to remember to keep living during the waiting times. I am tempted to only focus on what I am waiting for and forget to enjoy the place I am in. While my future seems uncertain, I need to keep making plans, keep putting dates on my calendar, keep doing things. It does me absolutely no good to stop everything and sit and stare. I hold all of my plans loosely, but I make them. This year, we expected to move by August. Because of that, I was hesitant to plan a summer vacation. Week after week, we worked and kept the house clean. Finally, in August, I said – you know what – we need a break. We NEED a vacation. So we went to Door County, Wisconsin, went hiking, picnicked by the lake, ate cherry pie. Now, in late September, I am so thankful we did. So keep living during the waiting. Don’t stop planning and doing in those hard long hours.
It is funny. When I am in the midst of waiting, it seems interminable, boring, and exhausting. But, in retrospect, the memory of those waiting times is not the same. I remember one particular time when we were trying to fly to San Diego, California.
I had to attend a work conference, but (since we were headed to such a gorgeous location), I decided to purchase tickets for my husband and daughter. We were excited and ready to go. Packed, headed to the airport, and found lines that stretched around filling the entire terminal. Hundred and hundreds of disgruntled customers at the American Airlines terminal. All of their flights – cancelled – due to an inspection problem.
No one would be flying anywhere.
The wait time was comical, except no one was laughing. Flight personnel came by to ask if we wanted orange juice – which we definitely did NOT want since we couldn’t leave the line to go use the restroom. We waited for three and a half hours and finally reached the front counter only to learn what we already knew. No flights. Cancelled.
I was frustrated and exhausted. They offered us a meal voucher. Finally, we were flown to Los Angeles and (after waiting in more lines) were given a hotel with a promise to fly again to San Diego the next day. I would miss part of my conference, but at least we would get there.
The day had been characterized by waiting: hours of waiting in multiple lines, waiting for news, waiting for our hotel room, waiting for cabs.
The funny thing is –I have many good memories of that trip.
We still tell stories of that adventure. In Los Angeles, late that night, we ate dinner in the hotel lobby and found a jazz group playing. We met a man nick-named the “Jazz Cat” who told us about his love for music and the scene in L.A. We have snapshots of our hotel room that night. We bought a plastic Hollywood Oscar statue in the hotel gift shop – and my husband – his head in a towel turban – was play-acting “accepting” the award. We were slap happy and silly. But, we had fun.
The next morning, Starbucks in hand, we boarded a mini-plane to San Diego.
And, all of that happened DURING the waiting.
Frustrating? Definitely. Fun? Actually….yes.
The waiting is part of the journey. It is a hard part, but it can also be memorable.
We all wait at different times in our lives. It is the “simply trusting” part that is both hard and important. God is in control. He sees further than we do. We need to walk in His shadow knowing that He has the end in sight, even when we don’t.
We need to pray, sing, and live . . . even in the waiting.