I’m really not the best person to write about waiting well. I mean, I get antsy waiting for people to finish eating their dinner when I’m ready for dessert. And that’s a mild example. I try and work on my patience, but when I’m tired or hungry or don’t feel well or…well, you get the picture. My patience? She wears thin easily.
I’ve heard it facetiously said that you should not pray for patience because if you do, God will give you something to be patient about. Well, the Lord has certainly given me an opportunity to demonstrate this particular aspect of the fruit of the spirit. That opportunity came in the form of waiting for children.
When my husband and I were first married, we were frequently asked when we were going to have kids. We would jokingly tell people “5-10 years”…after over 13 years of marriage, it wasn’t a joke anymore. But our story isn’t really the focus of this post. Rather, the focus is on waiting well, even when it becomes painful.
In my own experience of waiting to become a mother, for many years, I felt patient. Given my history of lack of patience (see paragraph one), clearly this was not a small feat. In Philippians 4:7, we’re told that the peace of God surpasses our understanding. In my case, the peace I experienced while waiting for a child certainly exceeded anything I could comprehend and could only be attributed to God. But after a couple of years of being in the adoption process, it became difficult. Challenging. Painful. And like it is with grief, there were good days and bad days. Moments where I was perfectly fine and moments where I could barely catch my breath out of sadness or frustration. Thanks to God, I was able to manage this well most of the time. But one day, after an already rough morning, I was meeting up with a friend when I became choked up about our childless situation…this was an embarrassing and important break through.You see, I hadn’t sat and cried with anyone over this before (other than my husband). Yet, as a counselor educator and former therapist, I know how cathartic crying can be. How comforting it can be to share the burdens of your heart and hear someone say “me too” or “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” Despite being a part of support groups and connecting with other parents in waiting and adoptive parents who have “been there, done that,” I had mostly kept my struggle to myself.
I held back for many reasons: Because I wanted to be strong and I wanted others to see me as strong. Because I thought most people wouldn’t understand and because I didn’t want them to feel awkward. And because (and here’s the good news) I knew this painful wait would come to an end. This truth helped me cope with this difficult wait: God has a plan and this was a part of it. Really, I think the best way to wait well is through prayerful anticipation that our wait will end and our prayers answered. Make no mistake, our prayers are not always answered how we prefer them to be answered. But God always answers prayers and He is always working things out for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). By focusing on God and His promises, we are able to keep our attention on things other than our wait. Most of the time, anyway. And when the emotions well up and come out in the form of tears, that’s okay too. In fact, it’s a helpful release.
You see, it’s not really about being patient. And it’s not about holding back our pain. It’s about giving ourselves the freedom to be weak, because it is then Christ in us is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). And it’s mostly about holding on to hope that the wait will end. For whatever you are waiting on, the seemingly never ending wait will be over. It did for us. And she was so worth waiting well for.