Waiting on something feels like the highway to depression and disillusionment. I didn’t realize that until it was too late.
Here’s what I wrote for ShareFaith Magazine.
If you like what you read here, get the rest of the story in my book, The Variable Life. [Order by December 24 and get extra rewards and instant downloads, too.]
Is It Worth It To Wait on God’s Timing?
After graduating from college, I went searching for jobs with my new degree in hand and a healthy dose of naive confidence (who isn’t cocky when he’s young?). I moved back into my parents’ house, took up a part-time job, and continued dozens of hours a week sending out résumés and researching companies. I’d originally anticipated a month or two at most until I secured a career-oriented position, but nothing happened for eight long, frustrating months.
My life and efforts felt like a waste of human potential. I wanted to make progress, not be stuck back in my hometown in a dead-end job.
Finding Value in the Meantime
Our lives are always changing, like huge puzzles coming together from individual, interconnected parts. It’s messy and disorganized. We can tell the colors will flow together somehow, and a beautiful image is in store if we just wait a bit longer. But how can we make the most of our waiting?
Is waiting just wasted time?
During that wait, I had to learn to embrace it and redeem it. Instead of constantly complaining about how things should have been (in a cocky entitlement mindset), I grew to appreciate the added time I shared with my family. Recent graduate friends from my hometown had moved back in similar situations, so we took the opportunity to build a meaningful community of friendships. The flexibility in a part-time job afforded me time to do a little traveling that a demanding full-time position would hinder. I was able to take on a new challenge and invest in others by serving with a mentoring program for teenage boys whose parents are incarcerated.
All of these added to the value of my waiting experience. Just because I wasn’t in the exact situation, job, and location I preferred didn’t mean I couldn’t use that time period to be planning for future ambitions and eventual productivity.
Getting the Call
When I finally got a call offering a full-time job offer, I was almost reluctant to leave the circumstances I had settled into. But I was confident that I wanted to experience and accomplish more things in life than my hometown could offer. So a contract was signed and I moved 2000 miles away from anyone I knew. The waiting had finally come to a close. I found that the waiting, in fact, helped prepare me for making new connections in my new city, volunteering with teens there, and appreciating the people who were involved in my life.
The internal conflict of patience and dreams of bigger things prepared me to navigate all the variables my life had to offer. It’s one of the most important themes of our lives, which is why I wrote about it in my book, The Variable Life.
Harnessing the Power of Waiting
Many of my friends are navigating this season of waiting, and some have recently emerged. They didn’t get to jump on opportunities as soon as they merely dreamed up their future. (Things rarely fall into place right when we want them to. It would be too easy that way.) They had to wait for the puzzle’s image to become clearer. As they continued organizing their lives, adding a few more pieces at a time, they saw an opportunity suitable for that season or the next. Life became a little less jumbled, the path clearer. They gained confidence and clarity in a world of choices.
When the picture didn’t seem to change fast enough, they didn’t give up the dream or resign themselves to a boring fate. They didn’t turn apathetic. They were patient yet productive, because they understood that mere well-intended wishes do not translate to meaningful action unless the “down-time” is harnessed to prepare mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually for future action.
The Trick to Long-Term Productivity
Productivity occurs when vision fuels the energy to stay faithful even during the lulls of waiting, the seemingly empty times between action. It’s important to understand the connection between vision and productivity. The incomplete image of a life season may be bland, but waiting doesn’t have to be without meaning.
Waiting isn’t an excuse to be inactive or zone out of important things, nor is it an excuse to keep stalling when you know what your next step should be. It means developing your life ambition or even just your next step. You may need time to rest and reflect on how far you’ve come. Know your past so you can see your trajectory, moving toward long-term productivity.
Waiting does not make you a failure. Your identity doesn’t come from what you can do, and it doesn’t diminish when you find yourself in undesirable circumstances.
It is often through waiting that your character is strengthened, your roots deepened, and your vision’s resilience proven. If you casually abandon your dreams during a period of waiting, maybe the dream isn’t big enough. Hold tightly to your vision during the boring days that drag on between adventures.
Waiting is the DNA of faith.
Use the seasons of waiting to make vital preparations for a productive future.
Waiting For Change
If you’re reading this, your story is far from over. Your story is not over if God is still shaping your body, mind, and spirit with the scalpels of grace and truth. Your story has many chapters yet to write. There is still conflict to overcome, people to journey with, and new places to discover. And when you think it’s over, wait a little longer or chase a lead, and a new chapter will surface right before you.
In the midst of our routine, staying faithful in the daily grind of our work, our play, and our living, God meets us in a way we did not expect. He always brings changes. The changes are rarely what we expect, but they are ultimately for our good because he is.
Perhaps that’s the state God likes to find us in: vulnerable but expectant. Waiting for a new transition only works when we prepare to take the next step.
Find more on change, faith, and growing through challenges in John’s new book, The Variable Life: Finding Clarity and Confidence in a World of Choices. Pre-order it on Kickstarter before December 24.