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Why is waiting so hard? A hopeful lament.

I was asked by my church to speak on the topic of waiting for their Ash Wednesday service, a Christian holy day that precedes Easter. It is meant to be a time of meditation, of looking inward in sober self-examination before we start looking forward to the joy and celebration of Easter. Before the joy, though, comes waiting. 

I feel stuck in the waiting place

It's funny that I spoke about waiting in a theoretical context just a couple of weeks before the coronavirus forced all of us into a long, metaphorical waiting room. Sometimes it feels like we are permanently stuck in that waiting place. Have you ever been trapped on a plane that is having difficulties, and the pilot keeps coming on and saying they will take off shortly? And an hour or two later, you feel like you are going to lose it if they don't let you off the plane or the plane still doesn't take off? The months of March and April feel a little bit like being stuck on a plane with no word from the pilot and no sense of when things will get better. 

I miss so many things that I took for granted

I miss seeing human beings in person. I miss their energy and their smiles. I miss hugs. I miss the spontaneity to go places and explore my world without fear of contagion. I miss seeing the joy my kids experience when they play with their friends. I miss the smile on my parents' faces when they get to spend time with their grandkids. I miss the rituals of every day life that we took for granted. I miss the collective effervescence of large group gatherings. 

The coronavirus feels like it came out of nowhere and ripped a hole in the social, physical and mental fabric of our collective lives 

I am sad for those who suffer. I am sad for those who mourn. I am worried for those who labor on the front lines to keep us healthy and fed. I grieve with those whose businesses will close and for those who have lost their jobs and their ability to feed their families. My heart aches watching the cases of domestic violence rise and knowing so many young and vulnerable victims are trapped at home with the perpetrators. The coronavirus feels like it came out of nowhere and ripped a hole in the social, physical, and mental fabric of our collective lives. 

Day by day I try to look for and lean into what is good

This period of life has not all been bad, of course. I personally am thankful for the concentrated time with my family and for getting to slow down for a bit. I am thankful for the cooler weather which has allowed us to be outdoors and experience the cardinal's song and the humming birds sucking the nectar from our star jasmine. These are little bits of grace that shine through even the heavy moments.

If there are lessons to be learned from this, I hope one of them will be to take fewer things for granted and to value the people I encounter more. I hope I can keep the regular struggles of life in perspective. I hope we will all grow more resilient and more compassionate. 

I would not wish for this pandemic, but I am leaning in and trying to embrace any good that may come of it. I am practicing mindfulness, and meditation, and prayer, and gratitude every day because I need it every day. The need is always there, of course, but in my normal life, it is not so apparent. It is good to know that I am not the god of my own life and I don't need to be. 

Waiting feels like suffering

We are all in a season of waiting, so you know how hard this is. We are not just waiting for the virus to be eradicated or for a vaccine. There are so many other things in our lives we are still waiting on. Waiting for the pain to go away after a tough break-up, waiting to move back after losing your home in the floods, waiting to see if your cancer is gone for good, waiting to see if you can have a baby after a long struggle with infertility--waiting. And in those moments, sometimes, waiting feels like suffering. 

Why is waiting so hard? In part, because we are made aware that we are not in complete control of our own lives. You have to let go of some things before you will ever feel comfortable with waiting. You have to let go of some control of the future and learn to live more in the here and now. This is a discipline that you practice moment by moment. It's not easy, but it will free you up from so much anxiety. 

Stay healthy and safe and practice radical compassion - to yourself and others. These are tough times. 



If you are struggling and would like to talk to a counselor, please contact Wilson Counseling at 713-591-3612 or via the website.

The advice in this blog is not a substitute for professional counseling. 


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