On Holy Saturday, I wrote about the importance of waiting for Christ, about how waiting is healing.
I still read over that post and I can see the grains of truth in it. Waiting is good!
And yet, readers, a paradox has presented itself to me since I wrote that post.
Since Easter, since I wrote that waiting is healing, have I really been waiting? Or have I simply been calling it waiting to make it easier on myself? Am I really waiting? I feel like if waiting were such a good thing, it would be getting better…
I hear the devil coo to me, Oh you’re waiting alright, poor Anna. You’ve been waiting and waiting, and it just keeps getting worse, doesn’t it?
Indeed. It has gotten worse.
Truly, I have been getting stronger. I have been going deeper in my faith. But yes, I will concede that things have taken a turn for the worse, and it’s showing in just about every aspect of my life – physically, mentally, emotionally.
But if I’m doing the right thing by waiting, why isn’t it getting better?
Since Easter, my waiting has been waiting for things to get better as soon as I get what I need.
(Aha – see the problem yet?)
Let us think about what waiting really is.
Waiting, by definition, is a period of time spent inactive. Look it up, that’s what it says, simply.
Yet, this definition doesn’t satisfy me, because there are lots of times that we are inactive that we aren’t also waiting.
For instance, sleeping.
Or perhaps contentment. We can be inactive in our contentment but we aren’t waiting for something. We’re too content to need to wait, yes?
So then, waiting is more than just being still. What more is there, then? Let’s dive in together.
The wrong kind of waiting presents itself here: waiting is being inactive while we expect contentment to be just around the corner.
Wrong-waiting precedes contentment, and whether we wait patiently or impatiently, the point that still stands is this: if we are wrong-waiting, it means we are not content.
Toe tapping, arms crossed, eyes rolled to Heaven – I’m waiting, God. Any day now.
And I’m sure it doesn’t thrill God.
I have been striving. To strive is to struggle and fight for something with zeal.
Here is the paradox.
I have been striving and waiting – and this conundrum, the idea that I can be both remaining inactive and fighting for something, is not a new one. It is a complex conundrum, but it is indeed possible to both wait and strive, because I have been doing it.
My soul is waiting, but my heart is striving.
My body is waiting, but my mind is striving.
Regardless of what is waiting and what is striving, the point remains clear – I am wrong-waiting, and I am not content.
And if I am not content with what God has given me, then something is not right.
Contentment must always, always thrive in us – if not contentment, then at least gratitude.
I am waiting for contentment, and I am waiting for something to be grateful for.
I am waiting.
And it just keeps getting worse.
So how do we get out of the wrong-waiting rut?
I am reminded of the beautiful mantra of Ann Voskamp, “Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.” *
Eucharisteo – grace, joy, thanksgiving. Gratitude. Contentment
You must have these things before you wait for the miracle.
Yes, waiting is necessary, waiting is healing, waiting is asked and expected of us.
But we are not waiting for contentment and gratitude, rather we are content and grateful first and only then can we truly wait for God.
We are not called to wait for contentment.
We are called to be content in our waiting.
This is the the paradox that presents itself to us every time we are faced with a waiting period. Here is the right waiting.
Waiting – a period of inactivity?
Yet, we are called to pray, to minister, to witness, to preach, to sing, to live. We are called to have active souls.
Waiting, then, is not a simply a period of inactivity for body and mind, but a state of activity for the soul – a state that we must willingly enter into when we wait for God.
Toe tapping, arms crossed, eyes rolled to Heaven – I’m waiting!
Perhaps your mind is, your body, your heart – perhaps you are waiting in a state of inactivity.
But for our souls to truly wait for God, we must be active as we eagerly desire God’s grace, as we thank Him for our suffering, as we sing His praises in the dark.
Here then, a paradox.
We must be awake while we wait, we must wait in action, we must wait in contentment and gratitude, and we must wait without truly “waiting.”
We must wake our souls to the contentment that already surrounds us, we must wake our souls to the things we have that demand our gratitude, we must wake our souls to the things that we already have, rather than waiting for that which we still want.
I did not say “that which we still need,” readers – for we are to be reminded that what we need is what we already have, we are given in every circumstance what we need for that moment, and nothing more. So, then, we wait not for what we think we need, but for what we want.
We must wake our souls to that which we already have and be content and grateful for it, then we can wait for what we want.
Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.
Awake your sleeping soul, the soul that remains still, the soul that waits in inactivity.
Awake your soul to truly wait.
Wait without truly waiting, be active in your inactivity, be content while you wait for contentment.
Embrace the paradox, the mystery.
Embrace the wait.
Post Script Update: Mumford & Sons, who are supposedly not a spiritual band, wrote a song titled “Awake my Soul,” which is fantastic. I have it on my hipster worship playlist (yes, that’s a thing) and I recommend a listen. While it doesn’t necessarily pertain to this idea of right-waiting, it is an incredible song which I always imagine is a conversation between a man and Satan. Mumford claims it has no spiritual connotations, but tell me what you think.
* Voskamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010. Print.