hello monday: vol. 19

Hello, Monday. I've been thinking about waiting.

I'm not exactly what you would call a patient person. I like things to happen quickly and I'm much more of a "take action and get it done" type than a "wait and see" type. Our current culture of instant gratification only aggravates this affinity for getting what I want now, rather than patiently working toward a hard-earned reward.

Add this to my affinity for perfectionism, which often manifests itself in a "I'm the only one who can do this right" thought process (however incorrect that may be), and I'm just not very good at waiting.

 
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At the end of last year, I started contemplating what my word for 2018 might be.

Since my first year choosing a word in 2014,  it's always felt more like the word chose me than I chose it. I had words in mind, but for 2018, there hadn't been that moment where I just knew what my word for the year was supposed to be. Ultimately, I decided on the word "rest," and I'm still sorting out exactly what that means and how to make it a reality in my life (because it doesn't come naturally to me), but one word I considered long and hard was "wait."

I remember discussing it with my sister and almost begging the Lord that "wait" wouldn't be my word, because I didn't like the implications of what that would mean for the things I desired for my life in the upcoming year.

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Though "rest" is my official word for the year, I'm learning that the idea of it is similar in nature to waiting.

I'm not good at resting because I'm not good at being inactive. The combination of my own people-pleasing nature, my drivenness, and growing up in the area that I did has resulted in a person who has an immensely difficult time slowing down, relaxing, and choosing presence over productivity.

I've known for years that I struggle with the belief that my identity rests in what I'm able to do for other people, what I'm able to accomplish in a single day. It's a lie. That isn't news to me, but it's a lie I continue to struggle with.

That is why rest is so hard for me. It doesn't feel productive. It doesn't feel like it's accomplishing anything. And if my identity resides in what I do for others and what I'm able to accomplish, rest doesn't fit into that picture.

My bestie has to constantly remind me, "Sarah, you are a human being, not a human doing."

Part of this year has been and will continue to be a reshaping of my perspective on rest. Teaching and reminding myself that rest has a purpose. We were not created to go at full speed all the time. Rest reminds of us of our humanness and our limitations. And it is a good gift, modeled by our Creator, intended to rejuvenate, heal us, and prepare us to work again.

Waiting, I'm learning, is similar in principle.

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As I've thought about it more and more, I know that part of my issue with waiting is similar to my issue with rest — it feels inactive. It feels like just doing nothing when I could, or feel like I should, be doing something.  And that is hard for me.

Imagine my surprise when I, the word nerd, looked up the definition of wait: to stay in place in expectation of; to remain stationary in readiness or expectation; to look forward expectantly.

On a completely practical level, waiting is inaction. It is staying in place and remaining stationary. But it's staying in place or remaining stationary with a purpose.

Scripture tells us time and time on again to wait on the Lord, to be still, to bear patiently. I've always struggled with those verses, but lately the Lord has been reshaping my thought process.

Because of my perfectionist tendencies, I often approach things with a "no one else can do this right or better than me, so I have to be the one to do it." This completely false and supremely arrogant thought process is one I struggle with a lot and, in His wisdom and grace, the Lord has been using one of my favorite mediums — music — to gently remind me where I'm wrong.

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I was first introduced to Bethany Dillon's songwriting in high school. A good friend of mine loved her music, shared it with me, and I immediately fell in love, too. I lamented my lack of ability to play the guitar because it meant I wouldn't ever be able to play most of Bethany's songs.

Throughout the years, her words have spoken beauty and truth over my heart, but perhaps none more so than the title song from her 2012 EP — To Those Who Wait.

The chorus proclaims a beautiful truth: 

Lord, today You know what I need to do
But You can do more in my waiting
Than in my doing I could do
So I won't run anymore
I'm waiting on You

We forget so often the power of God to bring things about in His way and His timing. He literally spoke the world into existence with a breath. His ability to bring about His will is far greater and far better than anything our human efforts could ever accomplish.

Like me, there are probably things in life that you're waiting for. And like me, you may be tempted to push forward, to make the effort, to do the things, and make it happen.

The Lord requires action of us, for sure. Growing in sanctification is not a passive act, but a co-laboring where we are called to work out our faith with fear and trembling.

But sometimes the Lord does say "wait." And we're tempted to ignore Him. We're tempted to run forward at full speed, because if we just keep trying and pushing harder and harder, we think we can make our hopes a reality. We think if we just do more, do better, do harder, we won't have to wait anymore.

But He can do more in your waiting and my waiting than any of our doing could ever do. So let us wait on Him.