I’ve never been very good at waiting. The funny thing is, as a child, my mother used to say, “Maggie, if you move any slower you’d walk backwards!” Didn’t seem to mind waiting then, apparently I had all the time in the world. Or more truthfully, I became jaded and wounded by a world whose futures have been less than delicate.
The problem now is, I don’t know how to stop moving. Constant movement has created the delusion that I’m at the helm; I’ve barricaded myself behind the toxic walls of control and toil. In quiet desperation I set up rules for living and followed them. Everyday I told myself that as long as I followed the rules I was on the “straight and narrow.” I immersed myself in stuff: people, work, ministry, writing, reading, movies, Netflix, decorating, knitting, you name it; I kept busy. Busyness kept me from having to examine this crazy too closely. When something makes me stop and (ugh! Here comes that ugly word) WAIT, I become restless, grumpy, and agitated, it’s like I forget how to be a Daughter of God. I forget that being a woman IS waiting.
Recently I’ve been waiting for many things. I wait in my job, on a struggling ministry, in furthering my education, and for more edifying social situations. He has me painfully waiting for my grandmother to pass — literally every breath she draws is painful and labored. It’s hard to sit on the edge of her death waiting for peace. I wait for answers to some health issues. I wait on good men who constantly humble me, and whose hearts are equally wounded by yesterday’s harshness and tomorrow’s empty promises. Everyday has been a struggle.
In my agony I cry to the Lord to come and save me, and He has! He always does. Nothing in my situation has changed; but He’s given me renewed confidence and hope in His mercy.The Lord is teaching me the power of being a waiting woman. Waiting is the breeding ground for virtue. In waiting we give ourselves time to self reflect and really see ourselves more clearly and the work of the Lord more tangibly. Waiting requires a certain kind of interior silence and solitude. In that silence we find God. This is what I’ve been learning:
Waiting is God’s gift to woman.
In the Garden of Eden the first woman failed to wait! She had three choices. We know the choice that she made and its deadly ramifications. The first woman could have gently reminded Adam of his authority over the creatures or she could’ve simply waited for him until he stepped up. Either choice involved waiting. This helps shed light on the role of waiting in the life of a woman. Sometimes we are called to that first sort of waiting other times to the latter.
Look at Mary. Her whole life was one of waiting. She waited for Christ for nine months. After He’s born they were exiled to Egypt for a time. When He’s presented in the temple Mary is told that ‘a sword will one day pierce her heart’ – imagine waiting on that prophesy. Then she waits three days to find Christ in the temple. At the wedding feast in Cana she gently encourages Christ to change water into wine and waits with submission for His response. In Mark 3:32 we read, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” (Girlie translation: Your mom is waiting for you). Mary waited at the foot of the cross for three hours and another three days for His Resurrection, followed by forty days for the Ascension and another nine for the coming of the Holy Spirit. She waited to meet her beloved child in Heaven and now she waits for us to know the loving Sacred Heart of her son. There is power in her waiting as there is power in our waiting! I think we are tempted, I know I am, to think that waiting is stagnate. Mary shows us that there can be no greater privilege than to wait for God’s time. We as women get to do that in a special way, as the image of Mary.
In my own life of waiting there is literally nothing I can do to change my circumstances. But I can stop and be still and ask the Lord what He has for me in these situations.
Patience in my job search has taught me the value of work.
Patience with the ministry has taught me “to everything there is a season,” a time to learn and a time to teach.
Patience in my social life has taught me to see people for what I can give them instead of what can be gained from them.
Patience with my dying grandmother has taught me to love life and embrace the now. Nowhere is God more present than in the now! I’ve learned to thank God for the power of redemptive suffering. Grandma’s slow death has been a beautiful reminder of my own mortality and reliance on God’s mercy.
Patience in the health issues has taught me that worry is fruitless.
Patience in the want to further my education has taught me to trust in God’s providence.
Patience with men has taught me how Mary loves. This is the love that undid Eve’s impatience. Everyday is one of detachment and surrender to God’s will and plan. The rules are good only if they are leading you to love. It’s a lesson in learning that every moment is God’s gift to us and should be cherished. I’ve had so many opportunities for growth at the hands of the men God places in front of me. Through them Jesus calls me out onto the water.
And in all of these moments I’ve learned to be patient with myself. How easy it would be if it only took failing once to get it right. Above all else Jesus wants us to TRUST Him! He uses situations in our lives to make us wait but it’s really Him we are waiting for or on. Waiting does not guarantee our will but His. Society would have us believe that its undignified for a woman to wait on anyone or anything but Mary shows us something different. Waiting prepares the soul to see like God sees. In waiting God molds and forms us more and more into His Image. This is the power of a waiting woman. A waiting woman helps the world see God! You no longer look at her and see her action but His.
Psalm 27:14 says, “be stouthearted and wait for the Lord.” And hopefully with a little practice and patience we can reply with Psalm 62, “For God alone my soul waits…I shall not be greatly moved.”
Are you waiting?