The Hard and Beautiful Work of Waiting

We weren’t prepared. None of us. Some things take more time than we want to allow, require waiting and space and time to do what they’re supposed to do. When we rush the process and set our own time tables, we think we’re creating our own success. In reality, we’re often causing our own crash.

waiting

No one expected winter at the beginning of October, at least not six to eight inches of snow. Two days before the temperature hit close to 80 degrees. The trees were busy with their fall celebration, painting the world with oranges and yellows and reds. Although we all knew winter was coming, nature felt extraordinarily alive. A final flourish to a glorious summer.

Then, on October 9th, the temperature dropped more than forty degrees. And a light Monday rain turned to a thick and heavy snow. For hours, nature blanketed Colorado in white, refusing to relent. Layer after layer of heavy, wet snow piled up on streets and grass, driveways and trees. Still covered in orange, yellow and red leaves, tree branches bowed, like a mother caught by unexpected mourning, unable to lift her head.

When I woke that morning to a world of white, my first thought was for our trees. I love a good snow, and I typically create quite a celebration of it. But this time I knew the trees weren’t prepared for it. They hadn’t time enough to shed their summer. As a child isn’t yet ready to bear the weight of adulthood, they couldn’t carry the responsibility of snow. Instead, with leaves holding each flake, the branches bowed with the strain. I feared they would break.

And that’s precisely what happened. While my husband and children finished their breakfast, a loud crash shook them from their cereal. With a glance out the back windows, they saw the cause of the crash:

One of the largest branches of our favorite Purple Ash had finally succumbed to the weight of the snow.

It lay sprawled across our Blue Spruce and back yard, yellow and red leaves littering the white floor, severed from its source of life.

Within a day or two, the snow melted and the temperatures turned summer-like. Trees once again flaunted their colors, although with far less leaves and flair than before. Daily, I went into our backyard to mourn our favorite tree. I couldn’t help myself. It no longer provided a complete canopy of shade as it did the week before. Lacking its prior symmetry, it appeared deformed, misshapen. Worse, I feared disease where the broken branch had left the tree exposed. Time would reveal whether or not it would survive.

I’ve thought a a lot about that tree over the past month. It’s not as if it didn’t know what to do with snow. It’s endured dozens of winters, countless snowstorms.

The problem wasn’t the storm or the temperature—it was the timing.

I’ve never been much good at waiting. When I want something, I want it sooner than later. That book I want to write or project I want to complete? I want it to be finished now and flawless the first time. My skills as a leader and mentor? I expect them to developed and exceptional immediately, without struggle and growth and time. I want my children to be mature and responsible and full of faith today, and my marriage exactly what God designed it to be right now.

In short, I want to skip over the uncomfortable process and get to the satisfying results.

I too easily forget: The struggle now is part of the glory then.

To short-cut the first is to diminish the second. And to skip over the waiting means to risk crashing. Sometimes that “one thing” we’re desperate for would be better served by a longer fall, a season of time that would allow space and maturity and growth. Many times we must shed some leaves today before we’ll have the strength to bear the weight of tomorrow. Thus the need for seasons, and the need for savoring each one before rushing off to the next.

“But I trust in you, LORD;

I say, ‘You are my God.’

My times are in your hands …”

–Psalm 31:15

No, I don’t much like waiting. I want to rush ahead to the happy ending, where the scenery is spectacular and the celebration happens. Each day while I wait, I’m tempted to fast-forward the process, strong-arm results, manipulate and control and make something happen.

But an unfolding is often more beautiful than a forcing. Hard, yes. But worthy.

Whatever it is you are waiting for, perhaps waiting isn’t as unproductive as it seems. Because, at times, what happens during the fall is precisely what needs to happen to get us through the winter and to the spring.

Trust Him, friend. Trust He knows the desire of your heart, and what needs to happen for the best of you and those you love.

He’s a master of the process. Don’t run and rush. Don’t attempt to bypass one season to move more quickly to the next.

Instead, walk it out. Savor the oranges and yellows and reds. Enjoy the slow fall of leaves and the sweet savoring of what is yet to come, what you can’t yet imagine.

Allow the struggle to be your teacher.

Trust the pain to be a grace.

Embrace the wait, slow as it may be. And trust the One who paints the leaves and sends the snow knows precisely how to turn your waiting into a rewarding spring.

Question: Are you currently in a waiting space? How might you use it rather than wishing it away? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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25 thoughts on “The Hard and Beautiful Work of Waiting

  1. Yes, SAME. I have been realizing the very same thing about myself. I want to skip the middle. The shaping. The lessons. The hard. The wilderness. And get straight to the Promise Land experience. Thanks for sharing, sweet Michele!❤️

  2. I really don’t know how to embrace mine or to make it rewarding or learn from it. I know our children belong to God, but He gave me only one, and my only son I love with all my heart. It broke that he came broken from a war not really his to fight, but he did for his country, and will never, ever be the person who left again. Long story short, he lost his faith there, and now, he’s angry, and lost, and not even speaking to me…and we’ve always, always been very, very close. It’s going on three l.o.n.g years. Nothing I can do to salvage this. I can only give this to God and pray that He bring my son back to Him, and back to me again, and hopefully within my lifetime (I’m not that well & not getting any younger & he IS only only child!). I have no one else to look after me in my old age!?!? hmmm He even moved away & left no forwarding address or phone number. Does not answer emails (unless it’s to cuss me out to not send him anymore). I don’t mean to brag, but I was in my element when I was mom – and I did a great job doing that – every teacher he ever had said if they all like him, they’d have an easy job!! People at church said how well behaved he was!! All his girlfriends said he was an awesome man!! I did have an amazing son, and I was so proud of him. And then… Now….it’s shame, and it’s embarrassment that I have to live with this as if I’ve done something horribly wrong and God won’t even help me?!?!? Wow!!! It gets really discouraging at times because I cannot imagine why take this long…Andy is smart, very smart….and he should KNOW in his mind that things are not bad between us and he should come back around. So why hasn’t he figured this out? He’s had years to figure this out. I’m just at a loss as to what’s going on here….because this IS my own child. But….I keep praying. I hope one day to see him show up here at my door and my arms will open wide.

    • Dianne, I am grieving for you, and for Andy, as I type this. I have no satisfying answers for your questions, but I validate your questions, and I understand why you ask them. I will not diminish the agony with which you wrestle by serving up empty platitudes.

      I thank Andy for the service he rendered our country, and I thank you for raising a son with a heart that would be willing to do that. At this point the price for his service seems very high – for both of you. I have not lived the horrors of war and combat, and I tremble to think what Andy must have witnessed, and how that has reshaped his worldview.

      One thing I do know, Dianne, with absolute certainty, is that as much as I love my sons and my daughter, and now granddaughter – as intensely as I love them, God’s love for them eclipses my own. And as much as I want the best for them, God wants that even more so. That same reality hold true for you and for Andy. God’s love for him and for you has not waned in the least.

      “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:38

      “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

      I am praying for your peace.

      – damon

  3. With two operations on sarcoma (tumour) on my arm last year followed by six weeks radiology I am waiting for the next test and then the next to see if it is clear or returned, have my next pet scan (not an MRI thank goodness) on November 17 then I will know if I can relax again and breathe or not, it’s hard and I must try and learn to live with it

    • It’s so very hard, the waiting for scans and tests and results and not knowing whether or not you’re life will once again be turned upside down. Over time, the struggle does get a bit easier. Never truly EASY, but not quite as consuming and paralyzing. With you, Jo.

  4. Love this post! Reminds me of the song “Glorious Unfolding” by Steven Curtis Chapman. “And this is going to be a glorious unfolding, just you wait and see and you will be amazed. You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over…” I’ve been singing that for quite sometime…trying to remind myself that the story isn’t over yet, I just need to be patient and not rush the process, there is something God is doing along the way.

    Hope your poor tree is ok. I love our trees here, and always feel sad when they lose huge chunks or when they fall. 🌲

  5. I am currently in month 11 in treatment for aggressive breast cancer. Yes, I was the woman filled with fear and rushing to manipulate test results and surgery dates this time last year. I learned the most about waiting for God’s timing during my 6 months of chemo and especially my 30 days of Radiation.
    I am still enduring Herceptin every 3wks, however, God spoke to me thru your writing. I am anxious to find the right reconstruction surgeon to reverse “the bride of Frankenstein” look I have to my chest. I will work towards embracing the wait as I now do not desire to “set my own table”.
    Much Love to you♥️
    *my blog on Facebook is “Praying for Snow”

    • You’re learning hard, hard lessons in the fire, my friend. And yet you are doing it … refusing bitterness, choosing trust, and leaning into the hard and hidden gifts found only in suffering. I understand only too well both the great cost and the great gain. I’m with you.

  6. I ama 69 year old widow living alone . On October 7 I fell on some stairs and broke both bones lower left leg . I now have a rod in the tibia bone . My waiting is 10 weeks of no weight bearing on that leg . I hop using a walker only to do what I must do as it is strenuous . My recliner is my nest . My trust is in the Lord to give me patience and perspective that this too will pass and my blessings serround me . Thank you Lisa , I love you and your wonderful inspiration .

    • What a struggle … to be forced to sit and wait and hope, unable to fast-forward the process or do anything to change the circumstances. Praying our God meets you in a beautiful way as you sit in your recliner and heal.

  7. I was deeply touched by your post today. I’m in a very dark season right now, having lost my firstborn son, only 24, in a motorcycle accident 5 weeks today. My heart wasn’t ready for the weight of the sudden snow either. I find myself in grieving mode, wondering how God can make anything beautiful out of this , yet I know He cannot lie. In this season, I wonder if I’m just supposed to learn how to be held closely. I’m not sure about it all and my heart is broken, yet I find I need to see the goodness of the Lord somehow every day. Still, it is easier said than done. I want to skip through this season, but there’s no way to do that. I want to wait well. If you’d like, you can read my story on my blog. I’ve been able to write a few times with God’s help: itcrossedmymind.blogspot.com
    Blessings upon you. Thanks for sharing your heart today.

  8. The difficulty in such waiting is tied to the tenacity with which I hold to the idea that my plans and goals are perfectly aligned with God’s plans and goals. Maybe they are. Perhaps not.

    When I act on my conviction that they are aligned, it is tempting to force the issue rather than let the “season” play out, running its course. Since I can see the end game, and I arrogantly believe I know the best route to get there, I run myself ragged to accomplish X, Y, and Z, rather than resting in God, his timing, his plan.

    Oh, I need to be faithful in my walk, constantly seeking God’s direction and making course corrections. It is critical that I DO walk, but moreso that I walk in accordance with Holy Spirit’s leading, and trust in God’s goodness and desire to work for my good.

  9. I just read all the posts
    I understand the pain
    My Husband of 49 years left the faith because of a history prof who said the Bible is full Of myths 43 years ago

    My only son married a wounded wife
    and has stayed away for most of the 16
    years and kept the 2 grandkids away as well
    Recently he told us he was sexually abused at 8 and 11 and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and narcissism…mental illness!
    now the real reason for his anger

    My husband got diabetes 14 years ago and a cancerous sarcoma from
    Agent Orange in May
    I cried and cried and the Lord heard me
    and delivered me from
    All my fears

    Everthing comes from God alone
    Everything lives by His Power
    Everything is fir His glory
    Romans 11:38

    Who and where can I go but the Lord?
    Who can I trust with my life and will
    But Jesus? There is no one to soothe
    My soul but Him

    and so I wait expectingly til Heaven fir all Things to be well

  10. Today, I asked to speak to me directly. He did thru you! I have been waiting for many seasons on a specific issue. I sense it is nest. Your words told me, “keep on keeping on”. Thank you!

    I believe Bethel has a song, Take Courage. The line, “He’s in the waiting” says it all.

    Google it and enjoy its blessing.