Happiness in Waiting

“I had myself tested for Patience.  It was negative!”  

I don’t know if a quote has every spoken to me on such a profound level! 😛 I am not a patient person—I’m pretty sure that’s why I was blessed with four children.  I did learn early on, though, to stop praying for patience, because then I would be “blessed” with a patience-building trial!

But the Lord is infinitely wise.  Like muscles that must be broken down to be rebuilt stronger, our patience must be tried to become more resilient.    

So, the question that follows is, “how can I find happiness in waiting?

Just thinking of the word “waiting” makes me think of waiting rooms.  It stirs feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration.  Waiting can be very trying: waiting for answers, for blessings, for pain or grief to end.  Waiting can make the problem seem worse—bigger than it really is.  For women who tend to fixate on things, rather than compartmentalize our lives, waiting can be paralyzing. 

So how on Earth can we find Happiness in Waiting? 

Waiting for Answers & Guidance

I believe that prayer should play a prominent role in our lives.  I’ve seen answers to my prayers come quickly—sometimes almost immediately.  Other times, answers have taken so long that when they finally come, I’m surprised by their sudden, unexpected appearance. 

I often spend the time waiting for my answers in agony or frustration.  I’m often short-tempered and easily distracted.  This is not what God intends for me.  What He wants is for me to find understanding—the “answers” I’m seeking—in the waiting period.  And until I can learn that lesson (and remember it!), I will continue to struggle. 

Another problem I sometimes encounter is trying to steer my life toward the answer I want, instead of humbly accepting the right answer, no matter what.  This is a common roadblock to receiving answers.  In reality, it’s not that the answer is being denied us, but we instead, are refusing to accept it. 

Instead of impatiently waiting, or trying to will the answer I want, I must utilize the time spent waiting to increase knowledge, patience, and understanding.  Those things bring happiness. 

Knowledge, Patience, and Understanding

Knowledge is a great gift.  We should fill our lives by perpetually increasing our education.  When waiting for an answer or guidance, are we actively studying all we can about the particular subject?  If waiting for an answer about a potential job, are we studying everything we can about the company?  If we are looking to move, are we learning everything there is about the new area? 

Patience in waiting is a great measure of a man’s worth. 

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”

Joyce Meyer

We may all be forced to wait, but that does not mean that we wait patiently.  Patience is a virtue we possess when in the trial of waiting, we can find happiness.  Unfortunately, patience is not an all-encompassing virtue.  We may be patient with our spouses, but not with ourselves.  We may be patient with strangers, but not with our children.  The trick is to learn to apply patience in all arenas in our lives with a sincere smile and grateful heart. 

Understanding why we are compelled to wait really brings joy.  “Understanding” is the combination of theoretical knowledge and the application of how it specifically pertains to me. Such understanding brings joy because we see the complete picture: “I have not received my answer because there is still a lesson I need to learn, and that’s okay”.  That acceptance carries peace; peace allows for happiness.    

Waiting for a Blessing 

One of the hardest things to wait for is a blessing that is worthy and good, like education, marriage, and children.  These are all “good” things, so why wouldn’t they come to us readily and in abundance?  Why would we have to wait for any of these wholesome blessings? 

A common problem that comes when we must wait for blessings is the malicious lie that we aren’t worthy of them.  This myth transforms the time spent waiting from a period of growth to a period of self-destruction.  We question our worth, our abilities, our intentions, every iota of self until we have completely destroyed our happiness. 

In so doing, we construct such a tangled web of barriers until we deny ourselves any blessings we are waiting for. 

It is the very opposite of the idea of “Law of Attraction”.  Instead of welcoming and creating blessings for ourselves through positive thinking, we are barricading ourselves from potential blessings by eradicating our self-worth. 

Surrounded by Positivity

In the words of my favorite optimist:

“God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has.  But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream.  In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.”

Jeffrey R. Holland

The period of time spent waiting for blessings is a time to reinforce your self-worth.  It is a time to discover who you are, what you need, and perhaps most importantly, how you can fulfill your needs yourself.  In other words, it’s a time to believe in yourself. 

Blessings are not intended to be a solution to a problem.  Marriage won’t cure loneliness; Babies won’t cure marital problems.  Blessings come when we are content without them.  Thus, they come when they are least expected

While waiting for worthy blessing to come, surround yourself with positivity.  Recognize your talents and gifts, succor and strengthen your self-worth, and seek out opportunities to laugh and be happy.  Actively fight against the lie that you aren’t worthy of the blessings that are waiting to come. 

Waiting for Grief and Pain to End

We all must endure periods of grief and pain in our lives.  Despite our best efforts and desires, “into each life some rain must fall” (Longfellow, “The Rainy Day”).  It is particularly difficult to find happiness in this season of waiting for the dark clouds to pass.  But pass they will. 

Waiting joy cometh in the morning psalm 30

The length of those “nights” may vary for individuals and from the circumstances surrounding their grief.  It is not for another person to determine when your grief should end.  However, surrounding yourself with people who are empathetic to your plights, but gentle in encouraging you find happy moments within your grief will strengthen you.   

Finding happy moments while grieving is not a betrayal to someone’s memory.  Think of the person you have lost—if they don’t want you to be happy, why are you grieving their loss?  If you are suffering heartache because you have lost someone who cared for you, they want you to be happy.    

Happiness is healing.  Laughter, service, gratitude—all outlets for our grief acts as a healing balm for wounded spirits, bodies, and minds.  Engaging in these activities will help you find happiness in waiting for your grief to pass. 

Finding Joy through Pain

To those who suffer to find light at the end of a painfully arduous journey, let me offer one consolation: you are in good company.  Even Jesus Christ, the greatest of all, cried out to His Father to end his suffering while He hung on the cross.  But still, He had work to do, and suffering to endure. 

Turning to Christ when waiting for pain to end is our spirit’s natural inclination.  Just like the child who cries, “Mommy” when they fall and scrape their knee, we turn to one greater than ourselves to ease our suffering. 

While faith can occasionally bring instantaneous relief, we are often required to wait and build our faith.  The Lord is not ignorant of you.  He is with you through your waiting periods, and quietly building your strength.  

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;”

Isaiah 40:31

The Secret

No matter what it is that we are waiting on in our lives, the secret is to alter our perspective.  Waiting is not holding our breath.  It is not meant to be wasted time.  Waiting must be perceived as an activity.  How different would our outlook on life be, if when asked, “what are you doing?” we honestly replied, “I’m waiting”?  No frustration, no impatience, no repeatedly cataloging our disappointment and annoyance, but instead relishing the opportunity to wait

“The same amount of time will pass whether I am squandering it in anger and impatience or using it to serve the Lord and His children.”

Christy Nielson

Look at waiting as a period of time in our life when we are blessed with a pause.  Instead of running incessantly, always in a hurry, maybe the Lord is making us wait so we can slow down.  Looking back on past experiences, can you recognize all that you learned, all that you took time to meditate and reflect upon during those “waiting” periods? 

Instead of simply trying to get from point A to point B, what if we embraced the waiting period between those two points?  What if we saw the waiting period between those two points as the purpose itself?  After all, what do we learn from crossing the finish line compared to the journey to get there? 

A Test

Next time you pray for an answer, or work to achieve a goal, what if you approached it with the perspective: let me understand, grow, and find happiness in the activity of waiting?  Let me not disparage the process of waiting, by only seeing the result as the reward, but the journey to the result as the real purpose.

“The journey is the reward.”

Steve Jobs

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