Surrender: How to Wait Well

As a child, one of the reasons I even started drawing was because of waiting. Waiting in lines with Mom at the BMV, waiting to be seated at restaurants, waiting for everyone’s food at restaurants, waiting around at church for my parents to be done talking (PKs- can I get a holla back?)… suffice it to say there was plenty of opportunity to doodle on the back of receipts from Mom’s purse.

As an adult, I find waiting is a completely different experience. It seems like waiting for anything can easily become this emotionally-charged process full of drama- 90% of which only happens in your head and is basically unnecessary. Maybe we wait for the right spouse to come along, wait through the dating process, then (if you’re a girl anyway- and I realize this is a generalization, but if you’ve got your big girl panties on today, I’m sure you can manage) wait for a proposal, then for the wedding, for RSVP’s, for the florist to get back to you, and ultimately for the Big Day itself…

Or maybe it’s waiting for a job, whether for you or your spouse. When you’re growing up, people never prepare you for the ridiculous emotional roller coaster this can be. You hear about an opportunity, you may or may not be excited about it, but you pursue it. Then someone calls you back, and you get a little more excited- this could be awesome- you think to yourself. The ball appears to be rolling, but before you know it, several weeks have gone by, and you’ve become more emotionally invested than you ever intended, seeming more like a pathetic supporting character in a sitcom, standing outside Mindy Kaling’s window with roses going, “I thought we had a connection!!!” And you realize you are being slightly neurotic, but then Mindy looks down at you with a pitying look, and says, “It’s not me; it’s you… And also you’re overqualified for the position.”

Ok, she doesn’t say that. She says something a lot funnier. But that’s what I went with for the metaphor’s sake. So, you move on to the next opportunity, and the process begins again… or you just give up and stay in the current dysfunctional position you’re in already, wondering if you’ll ever do something fulfilling, and/or if that something will also provide income.

Or maybe you’re waiting for a baby, either trying to get pregnant or trying to adopt. Sometimes both of those processes can be thoroughly painful. People have courageously written and maintained entire blogs devoted to their stories of waiting for a child, documenting and sharing their pain, the process, and hope to encourage others in the same boat. We haven’t experienced it, but have known plenty of people and heard plenty of stories of that heartbreaking kind of waiting.

Or maybe you’re waiting to buy a house, and feel like it’s never going to even be a possibility. Or you’re waiting to finish school, to go to school, to start a blog, a business, to write that story, to record that album, to get discovered, or to discover something great.

It seems that to some degree, we’re all just waiting for the next thing to happen. And sometimes, it just seems like waiting is nothing more than an exercise in futility and frustration. “What is the point of it?” we ask.

I think God often uses waiting to get through to us (if we’re listening). I remember a few years ago, being in a particularly uncomfortable waiting period in our lives, and I read Psalm 13. It’s short, but it says:

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

This psalm shocked me when I read it. I had been desperately searching for some word of encouragement in God’s word, and my shock in finding this- this expression of everything I was feeling- gave evidence to the reality that I didn’t trust God to even give me that. And that I’m not the first person to feel this way.

Now, having experienced several seasons of waiting (or is it just one big one?), I feel like I’m finally beginning to understand (key word is *beginning*) God’s purpose behind it. I think- a lot of the time- God wants to give us the gift of surrender through waiting. To repeatedly surrender our control, our desires- our will- to Him. To dwell in his sovereignty, his love, his peace.

Peace in waiting? Can it be possible? It’s not only possible; it’s promised.

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Perfect Peace edit

It’s not an easy thing. The evil one would rather you keep on striving and languishing; after all, despair is always easier than hope. Really, it’s a war for peace. And it can leave you bloodied and bruised and all to close to giving up.

So, I encourage you like I encourage myself- give up! Give up and surrender- but surrender to the One who is in control, who loves you with a passionate and fierce love, who intends good things for you. And whose definition of “good” gloriously, deeply, infinitely, beautifully surpasses our own.

We were made to know our Father, to love and be loved by him, and to bring him glory. He’s the creator of beauty, and creates beauty in every season we live through. 

And the crazy thing? We can imitate him and bring beauty to seasons of waiting, too. In fact, you could seize a season of waiting as just another grand opportunity to create something beautiful.

What if I never had all those chances to wait around in the DMV, under its fluorescent lights, the dreary gray atmosphere, the musty smell? (Seriously, if they would just light a vanilla buttercream candle or something, it would greatly improve the place.) Maybe I would never have started drawing? Maybe now, without seasons of waiting, I wouldn’t know how to develop thankfulness for these chances know the Lord better, how to wait well. 

living room

If you’re in the in-betweens right now, or feel like you’re just suffering in the ugly places, maybe it’s a chance to encounter God’s love for you more deeply, to find out that as you’ve been waiting, he was there waiting, too.

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