Sunday, December 8, 2013

advent reflection 2013.2 Wait for it...
I'm terrible at waiting.  Waiting for a late bus, waiting in line anywhere, sometimes even waiting to fall asleep - these are not the parts of my day that I enjoy.  Yet whether I like it or not, there is a lot of waiting to be done in life.  Daily I must wait in both short and long time frames: 30 seconds for a light to change, or years for my self to change.  In fact, often my deepest desires require me to wait.

If time is money, then waiting is expensive.  Thus lack of patience is easily justified.  But focusing on the bad parts of waiting and becoming frustrated is the wrong attitude.  Perhaps that is why we need a whole season of the church to learn a better posture.

Advent is about waiting.  To anticipate a coming - or an advent - implicitly requires waiting.  Just as the people of Israel waited centuries in exile, longing for a Savior, for their God to remember them, so too Christians await the return of Christ.  During this season we deliberately place ourselves within both of these narratives.  We wait.

A few times in the last week Advent broke into my daily waiting.  "It's ok, Bethany," I reminded myself, standing in a coffee shop line, "it's ok to wait.  This is good practice."  A few seconds later, however, I found myself wishing I had picked a different time to get coffee.  Clearly I need to let the Advent mindset sink deeper.

It is in the long things, the big things, that I feel it most acutely.  For example, I don't feel I have "the gift of singleness" (whatever that means!), but here I am, quite unmistakably single.  Some days waiting - and trusting God that this timing is best - is difficult.

Trust.  Two people suggested to me last week that God uses the waiting in our lives to bring us closer in relationship to him.  In this way Advent is about a much richer waiting than we might first imagine.  During Advent we wait for something.  But I think we have reason to hope that there is also something to be gained through the waiting.

p.s. some interesting facts about waiting in line.


  1. Going along with the waiting, there's patience too, yeah? In an acting class last year someone was talking about patience as a stupid virtue. A "virtue" that lets other people take your time without your objection, dictating even your attitude to your situation. It was making me really upset. And then I started thinking about all the ways that God is patient with us. (Thinking, "does that even count? He's got a pretty special relationship with time, so the waiting surely isn't as hard for him. Or does it mean that while he rejoices in the results of his patience he also waits, he will continue waiting forever?) But God is patient with us, under his authority. Not wanting any to perish. That gives me hope.

    I'm struggling with waiting too. And the patience. Reaching for peace and presence of mind where and when I am.

    Thanks for writing.

    1. Clara, I agree completely - patience is inextricably linked to waiting (or at least to waiting well). It is interesting to consider God's patience and compare it with our experience/concept of patience. Food for thought.

      Your last comment about "where and when I am" raises yet another important point - how we must learn to be present in our waiting, even as we long for the end of it. I think this is something it will take me a lifetime to learn to do well.