Stop or go. Black or white. Yes or no. Up or down. In or out. Boxers or briefs. Easy, right? Much of our time is consumed with making a choice and then implementing that decision. Many aren’t that complicated. We can either take an action or resist it. But when it isn’t so easy and we have to wait, what do we do then?
According to Tom Petty, “You take it on faith, you take it to the heart…the waiting is the hardest part!” Otis Redding admitted to wasting time as he sat on a dock in the bay, hoping against hope that something was going to come his way. Jerry Seinfeld hates waiting rooms because there’s no chance of not waiting. “Why would they take you right away when they’ve got this room all set up?”
Waiting. It may find us frustrated and inactive, neglected or fearful with an overpowering sense of dread, or perhaps, in a state of anticipation. Waiting is that time between what just happened and what is about to happen. We don’t seem to be designed to handle this very well. Waiting forces us to deal with uncertainty and to move around in a space void of answers and sometimes even direction. Waiting seems to steal our power of being captains of our fate.
What is the doctor’s report going to show? Is she cheating on me? Will I be offered the job?
Edgar Degas, the French founder of Impressionism, created a painting entitled “Waiting”. It portrays a young ballerina massaging her tender feet as she waits to perform. Students of Degas suggest that the painting illustrates the psychological tension between the physical pain inherent in the grace and beauty of the dance. Irish playwright Samuel Beckett’s existential experiences of Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot is all about waiting—but for what? The critics offer multiple interpretations but agree that the waiting is real.
But…wait. Bishop Fulton Sheen says waiting is necessary to learn patience and that patience is power. Patience (waiting) helps us establish the most advantageous time to act. In other words, don’t minimize or waste the gift of waiting because it can be used strategically in your favor. The prophet Isaiah says that our strength will be renewed if we wait upon the Lord. The proverb, ‘good things come to those who wait’ is attributed to several, but the challenge is the same.
Each of us must discover how to fold waiting into our lives. What are you waiting for?