Waiting Well: Advent Wk 3: I Hate To Wait
Are you trying to get ready for Christmas? It is two weeks away. You’ve got all this stuff to do. You’ve got all this pressure on you!’ Whether you are a couple, a parent, a single person doing your best, or a student, there are all sorts of expectations related to Christmas that can create a lot of pressure, if you allow it to.
On top of that in the middle this potential stress, right in the middle of all this stuff we have to do, the church says wait.
Are you kidding me? Wait? Yes. Wait. We have been talking a lot the last couple of weeks about how to wait well, and a big part of waiting well is allowing God to help you to change yourself to be more the kind of person you and God would like for you to be. We have been saying this because we also determined that the meaning of Advent is in the waiting. That sounds so strange. The meaning is in the waiting.
What we mean by that is that God wants to help you while you wait. That is what gives meaning to the waiting. God wants to give you his unmerited help. That is what we call grace, God’s unmerited help. God’s help is unmerited because there is nothing we can do to deserve it. God just wants to help you. That is grace.
Last week we said that you need to determine what you want God to help you with to make this a more meaningful Christmas. How do you want God’s help to change? You need to name that and bring it to God, and do the things that will help you to change, to grow, to be more like his Son Jesus in the way you and God have determined you need help. That is how you wait well. And I realize that waiting well is a challenge. Our inability to wait can make us miserable. Most of us hate to wait.
For those of us who hate to wait, consider this, maybe another name for Purgatory is the waiting room. How about that?
Most of us don’t want to wait on God either. We want to know what God’s plan is for our lives right now. Maybe you are waiting and longing to have children. That wait year after year can be so difficult; that type of wait can be crushing. Maybe you are praying for an answer for something right now, and the answer is not coming.
In the gospel, John the Baptist has been waiting so long that from prison the wait has ground him down to the point where he asks Jesus if he is the one or if he needs to continue to wait.
Why do we have to wait? Why is God always telling us to wait? Waiting can help us to be humble, because sometimes we think we should not have to wait because we think we are more important than we are. We can learn through waiting that, well. . . it’s not about me and what I want. Waiting can help realign our priorities because sometimes the things we think are really important, are not. We allow things to drive us crazy when we have to wait on them and become impatient, why? Because it’s all about me, and what I want to happen when I want it to happen.
Waiting helps us to see things more clearly, realign our priorities. Sometimes we have to wait because it is just not the right time. Here is the beauty of waiting. When we wait we have the opportunity to grow. What God does in us while we are waiting is often as important as that for which we are waiting. That’s why the meaning is in the waiting.
Do you think you are too impatient to wait well? I ask you to reconsider. Consider this. Do you want to be happy? Happy people are patient people. One reason they are happy is because they are patient. In other words they have learned to wait well.
One reason we wait is to grow in patience. So many people tell me they want to be more patient. I would like that for myself too. I am totally patient when things are on time, according to my schedule –how about you? When I get things “on time” without waiting I am the most gentle, kind, courteous person ever. Is that true for you? To be patient, you and me, have to learn to wait. Can you get beyond “I hate to wait.”?
When we wait we have the opportunity to grow. Remember what God does in us while we are waiting is often as important, or more important, as the thing for which we are waiting. Here is how. What do you do while you wait? You live –you do the next right thing, whatever that is. Simply open yourself up, call to mind what you are waiting for, be specific. You have to be clear and name the thing for which you are waiting.
Maybe you are waiting in line at a restaurant for 45 minutes to be seated. For what are you really waiting? Is it to meet some biological need for nutrition? Maybe it’s a bit of that, but I’m willing to bet it has more to do with the relationships of the people with you. So if you call to mind you are waiting to nurture those relationships over a meal, how do you wait well? We open our minds and hearts and begin nurturing those relationships long before you get to your table. I guarantee you, if you do that, it will enhance your meal perhaps beyond your expectations.
Do you see how this type of waiting, that restaurant example, works in connection to Advent and Christmas?
Here are a couple of other examples. A father had to take his daughter to the hospital in Pensacola for her check-up. He was thinking about the drive and the waiting around at the hospital. The night before the trip, she says Dad, I am looking forward to our adventure to Pensacola tomorrow. She sees it as an adventure with her dad. It changed the meaning of his waiting with and for his daughter. A dad also told me about asking his daughter if they can get to her school a little later when he is dropping her off, so when the doors open at that time, she can just jump out of the car and he can head to work. His daughter says, but dad when we get there 5 minutes early and we have to wait, that is my time I get to spend with you. Do you see how in both instances it changed the meaning of the father’s waiting? He prepared differently, and the waiting took on great meaning.
Open your heart and mind to God, and discover what you should be doing while you wait, and do the next right thing in consideration of the thing, or people, for which you are waiting. If you do that you will discover what it means to wait well. And you will discover much of the meaning of the thing you are waiting for is actually in the waiting.
When you find you have to wait, open your heart and mind and ask God: “God, let me do right now what I ought to do, because, Lord, I know waiting is not passive. Waiting is living, doing the next right thing. Lord help me to know the next right thing to do while I wait for this specific thing or person.”
Those are the things we want you to know this week.
Here is what we would like for you to do. We mentioned when Mass began that this is Gaudete Sunday, Rejoice! Sunday. Here is what we want you to celebrate or the thing over which we want you to rejoice.
Last week we asked you to name the areas of your life you want Jesus’ help. Name the areas of your life into which you want Jesus to enter, the place you are struggling. As you wait for Jesus to come into your life, to all of the areas we asked you to name last week, choose to rejoice. You are doing the next right thing – take joy in that. If you haven’t done that, now is the time to do it and to rejoice in the fact that you are actively waiting well.
If you’re doing the work – praying for your desires to match God’s desires, naming the places where you need God in your life – celebrate that.
Name the thing for which you are waiting, the place you want Jesus to enter, and help you, and then rejoice, that you are doing that, and open your heart to him in that rejoicing.