I’ve had a lot of “firsts” in the nearly four decades circling the sun, and with those comes a feeling of accomplishment in triumphing over adversity. This competitive drive is often instilled in us during childhood. If you’re not first, you’re last, right?
In the maelstrom of the battle for firsts, we are told not to wait, to figure all of life out post haste, because any amount of waiting could cost us what we want or need. It makes us regret pausing, as if hesitation is something to be ashamed of, or another demonstration of our lack of success. Now, more than ever, we may have to redefine those terms.
For decades—-half a century or more, to be real—-we have become a “microwave society,” growing so used to instant gratification in so many areas, even down to knowing what the weather will be in ten minutes, that we feel compelled to rush ahead to the next best thing. Alexa and Google are our go-to gurus, but she doesn’t know all the answers, and Mr. G doesn’t like the word “future” right now—he isn’t yielding results, either.
We, as a collective humanity, are experiencing a new “first”: being forced to wait, for an indeterminate amount of time. We are in a global “time out,” something that hasn’t happened to this degree in over a hundred years.
Many yearn for the dizzying pace of busy nothings to return because waiting feels boring and stale. They feel an urge to burst at the seams when told that they must shutter in, and avoid the outside world. I’ve heard it, seen it, and felt it over the past 67 days—a yearning for what was, hesitancy for what is, and expectation of what will be when the waiting is over. We are in danger of becoming the proverbial watched pot that may never boil.
The good news is that this rash of stagnation makes me feel even more intent on self-improvement. I want to work on small (and maybe huge) areas of my internal and external structure, so that, when we return to society, I can be the first to proclaim that the waiting was not in vain. I don’t want to go “back to normal”—I want to make a new “normal” that includes greater discipline in the practice of the pause.
I’ve come to see that, if you chew life up too quickly, there’s no chance to savor it.
We were out on a brief errand recently, and a sign in a shop window caught my eye: “Social distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Maybe we needed some space from ourselves for a while; in truth, we also needed to find alternate ways to draw closer to those whom we love. In the end, the wait can create a fresh, new perspective about the cloistered parts that have been lying dormant amid the traffic of our daily lives.
“Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we are waiting for.”~Charles Stanley~
When this all began, I had a first that I carved out for myself—early morning alone time in the stillness of what I deemed as the “aurora hour.” I woke up early anyhow, but was always glossing over time to muse and read, two pieces of myself rarely granted as a mother of two and teacher. In the past week, after realizing I was being swept up in life’s current again, I sought out my “aurora hour.” Sunday morning, a passage in my devotional stuck out to me about the value of waiting.
Moses was gone from Egypt for 40yrs before God said to him that it was time to return and do His work to free the Hebrews and guide them in an exodus from Pharoah’s powerful grip. Living a shepherd’s life, slowing his frenzied pace, and spending time with God made a new man out of Moses. If God had asked Moses before the four decades of tribulations and self-discovery, the results might not have been ideal. God forced Moses into a life pause, but filled the waiting with heavy meaning and interior renovation.
“Often the Lord calls us aside from our work for a season and asks us to be still and learn before we go out again to minister. And the hours spent waiting are not lost time…Quite often God will ask us to wait before we go, so we may fully recover from our last mission before entering the next stage of our journey.”Acts 7:30-34, KJV Bible
I do not claim to be on a mission of the caliber of Moses, but I do think there is a parallel here to our current state of affairs. Though we have enjoyed our seasons of firsts, and been conditioned not to wait, we are in a moment of frozen time. Although we have squirmed a bit at the restrictions, the isolation, the unknown, room is being made in our lives for possibility.
So, who will you be when the wait is over?
*began 5.17.20–completed 5.18.20*