A fidgety, wiggly and awkward kid, I always needed ways to occupy an overactive imagination, especially during those moments in life when my parents really needed me to be a good girl and wait. Thinking back, I’m not sure which part of that phrase vexed me more—the “wait” or the “be a good girl.” Both were infinitely difficult for me as a young child.
There are long, important discussions to be had on what it means to wait on the Lord, and how that is best done. Waiting on the Lord’s timing for answers can be a painful process. But this is a different conversation. A simpler one. About the difference between what it feels like to wait on other people and what it feels like to wait on God. Maybe some of you will recognize yourself here and smile wryly, remembering hard lessons learned.
My name is Laura and I’m an over-waiter. I think, trying to do what was expected of me, I drank too deeply from the good girl well as a child and young adult and now, as a grown woman, I find myself waiting to distraction.
I will wait before I call and bother you for an answer to a question. I will wait as long as it takes for service in a restaurant and never so much as peep in the direction of my server. I even wait on telemarketers to finish their lines and if they interrupt me as I try to disconnect, I wait for their next set of pleas.
Do I miss out on opportunities? I’m sure I do, but I can’t think about that right now because I’m stuck in line at Best Buy, and it’s one of those lines that is in fact an awkward merging of two clumps of people, and I just keep letting everyone go ahead of me.
Most Americans are decidedly in the other camp—and why not? Waiting is so last century. Let’s talk about the thousands of ways to instantly annoy anyone in the world with texting and tweeting and IM’ing and the dinosaur of the last decade known as email (ask your parents if you’ve not heard of it…it was sort of cool during its heyday).
I had a beautiful, spirited, insanely funny childhood friend. Still have her. Still love her. I never felt I deserved her favor, but for some reason, she chose me to be her dearest friend. It was a heady time. Here’s where things got sticky. This girl, this magnet for outrageousness, made me wait for her constantly. She would tell you this herself. She was never, ever where she said she’d be, when she said she’d be there. Never.
I can’t count how many times I’d fall asleep and hours, maybe days, later, I’d hear her knock on my bedroom window. Usually her delays were caused by bizarre things like a stray cat showing up at her door with its tail on fire, or a trip to the ER because one of her salon nails had ripped off taking a good part of her fingertip with it.
The metaplot here was that I’d absorbed the thought that I was the “least of these” and sweetness and light must pour from every pore. And these are not bad things to absorb if you understand the “why” of these concepts. So I never complained to my punctuality-challenged friend. I was always so disappointed, sitting home in my room alone, waiting, but I was a good girl.
Now, like my mother before me, I wait lifetimes in the car for my daughter to get her hair just right so we can leave. And, like my mother did for me, when she arrives, forty-five years later, I smile and tell her how beautiful she looks.
Maybe I’m alone in my over-waiting lifestyle, but I tend to believe there are other closet over-waiters out there. The groups of girls, now women, who try so hard to be good. But can we stand on our sofas and rant for a minute about how disappointing it is when other people make us wait? Can we admit that we feel a tiny bit disrespected?
We could all agree that waiting for other people does not usually showcase our finest qualities. We secretly feel so impatient and put-out. We draw our faces up tightly and purse our lips and sigh loaded sighs. Even as women in the church, who’ve been taught to show grace and mercy at every turn, we inwardly murmur about the injustice of it all. Right?
Ah, but here is where we can turn it on its head. How refreshing would it be to have someone feel so committed to you, that when he knows you’re waiting for him, he finds you as quickly as possible, no matter how hard he has to search, and his compassion for you blows away any frustration you might have had? Makes the waiting a blessing? Rewards your patience and justifies your time by pouring out more grace and opportunity than you’d dreamed existed?
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)) The Lord says to me, “My timing is not yours but here’s a glimpse of how great things will be.” And while waiting for Him, I never feel disappointed or used. I never wonder if I’m being set up for a fall. I never, ever, regret being a good girl because He doesn’t allow me to feel like a doormat. Even when I wonder about His decisions, I can rest assured that He is perfect, holy, on His throne, and the most supreme example of true love and justice in the universe. What a relief. I don’t have to pace. I don’t have to judge. I don’t have to stare out the window at an empty street. I don’t have to fall asleep waiting on a person who has a history of never coming.
This is not to say that there aren’t painful times when we do wonder how long he’ll make us wait, but the waiting is easier when we have the peaceful knowledge that “surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
Forever is here. We already dwell in His house. We don’t have to wait on that part, and that’s the very best part. He’s already here. We’re already there.
By Laura Anderson Kurk
Laura Anderson Kurk lives in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, with her husband, Alan, and her kids, Amelia and Anderson. She’s the author of Glass Girl, a novel for young adults, and its upcoming sequel Perfect Glass. She and her family worship at the A&M Church of Christ where they’re surrounded by amazing, talented Aggies. For more information about Laura or her writing, visit www.laurakurk.com.