October 27, 2016

Seven Things To Do When There's Nothing To Do But Wait



On a patience scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "not patient at all" and 10 being "very patient to the point of sainthood," I am approximately a minus-1000.

So a few weeks ago, when my friend Christine, a.k.a, The Real Mom, shared a post on patience, I read it straight away.

My favorite item on the list was Christine's suggestion about doing something while you're waiting. This idea of active waiting appeals to me because of my aforementioned patience deficit issue. 

I'm currently neck-deep in a season of waiting in one particular area of my life. (Sorry for the maddening ambiguity, but my family will stop supporting my blogging if I give away all their secrets.)

I have no idea how this situation is going to turn out. I have no idea when I'll know how it's going to turn out. While I'm waiting for it to turn out, there is almost nothing I can do to influence it or act on it. 

Because losing my mind over this is not going to make things a whole lot better, here's what I'm trying to do instead. While I wait...and wait...and wait.



1. Pray. I fight my mind on a good day, and in this season of uncertainty and treading water, that battle has, er, "intensified." My mind wants to think constantly about The Situation (TS), but there is only so much to think about it while it's going no where fast. So my new plan is that whenever I'm tempted to stew over TS, I should pray instead. Pray about TS, yes, but also pray about everything else I know that needs praying about. Which, given the whole "in this world you will have trouble" bit that Jesus was 100% on-target about, is a lot. I know prayer matters. I know it makes a difference. I've seen it again and again in my life and the lives of others. Doing it while I wait is not just killing time, nor is it a waste of time.

2. Memorize truth. Another weapon in my battle not to constantly let my mind get stuck on TS is to steer it in the direction of Scripture. Memorizing Bible verses is the one topic guaranteed to make some of my beloved Tuesday-morning Bible study ladies' eyes glaze over, and I get it: it's hard. But I've figured out a method that works for me (it's here if you're curious), and in this season of waiting, I need to put it back into regular action. Go-to verses and chunks of Scripture I come back to again and again include:
  • Philippians 4:6-8 ~ "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
  • Deuteronomy 30:20 ~ "Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life." 
  • Isaiah 35:10 ~ "Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
  • Psalm 40:1-2 ~ "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."
3. Deal with something you dread. You know that closet you've got that's a monument to chaos? The pile of papers you'll get to "later"? That to-do project that needs to be done but isn't essential to the viability of life as you know it so you keep putting it off? (If you don't have these things in your house, feel free to swing by mine.) Now--when some other part of life is in a holding pattern--is a great time to tackle one of these. Cleaning out that closet will probably have zero effect on your "situation." But I know from experience that when I finally--finally!--deal with a project like this, it makes me feel better afterwards every time I realize I've finally--finally!--done it. It's like a surprise present I get to keep opening. 

Hello, hangout-room closet (a.k.a., old school-supply graveyard)? Yeah, I've got my eye on you. One rainy day soon, it's going to be you, me, a movie on DVD, and a jumbo-sized garbage bag, my friend.

4. Control what can be controlled. One of the most maddening things about TS is that I cannot control it. And I am a certified control freak. Sigh. (See Isaiah...above.) I can do almost nothing to influence the eventual outcome of this whole thing. So not only am I waiting, but I'm waiting for some great unknown thing to happen. Or not happen. Or something. Sigh. But all of life is not out of my control, so I need to redirect my energy and commitment toward an area I can do something about. 

Take my arms, for instance. (Yes, this does relate.) I've always hated my arms. Well, specifically, my non-existent triceps. My biceps are decent, but their back-of-my arm counterparts need, um, work. So I've gotten a hold of a set of weights and have come up with some exercises and now I just need to do the thing already. I can't control TS, but I can control if I pick up these weights and use them. And who knows? By the time TS has worked itself out, I might be able to go sleeveless. (Insert NOT holding my breath.)

5. Be thankful on purpose. I'm sure there are plenty of gratitude experts and philosophers and other smart people I could quote here, but I'm sticking with the wisdom of Madam Blueberry on this one: "a thankful heart is a happy heart." I may not be crazy about The Situation or the waiting it's forcing on me, but I am very crazy about several of the people involved. I can choose to be thankful for them--that they are part of my life in the first place.



6. Celebrate anyway. While I'm waiting for TS to do whatever it's going to do, my tendency is to put the rest of life on hold. But there is much to celebrate now: fall (my favorite season); the return to fuzzy sheets on my bed; my daughter's senior year. Plus, after my old refrigerator up and died on me, I'm not ashamed to say I'm absolutely celebrating the fabulous "keeps stuff cold" feature on my new model. It's the little things.

7. Nurture a neglected relationship. The time, thought, energy, and focus I previously put into The Situation needs to go somewhere else while I'm waiting. So it might as well go into a relationship that could use some attention. There are emails I can send, coffee dates I can finally schedule (not just talk about scheduling), and even phone calls I can make. These relationship-nurturing actions have waited long enough.


Okay, mama, what do you do while you wait? What else can I do? Share your wisdom in a comment or over on Facebook. Go ahead...I'll be waiting.



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My deepest thanks to Aimee Imbeau from A Work of Grace for so kindly featuring this post at Grace & Truth. Bless you, Aimee!



This post may have been shared at some of these other lovely link parties.

24 comments:

  1. These are such awesome tips!! I'm going to have to bookmark this, because I so need it!

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    1. Aw, thank you, Heather! I have to tell you: I was out walking and praying this morning, and I kept telling myself, "Practice what you post...practice what you post." I think I mostly wrote this to keep myself accountable during this season of waiting, but if it can help someone else, too, that's an extra blessing and honor! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  2. I wrote half my comments in my Facebook share of this awesome post, but I do have a few things to add (of course): 1) I am still so totally praying for TS, 2) Each of those verses is a "zinger" (meaning great to pull out when you need a little "zing" from God), but the first and last are some of my absolute favorites! 3) Gv just watched Madame Blueberry last night, no joke, 4) OhGoodnessYes on #3, which in my house resulted in a bookshelf full of scrapbooks and convertion of every single VHS tape to DVD!...and 5) I'm incredibly jealous that you've got fuzzy sheets on your bed already, because ours will not see the light of day (or rather, glow of the nighttime lamp) until February and even then, it will only be for approximately 6.2 hours, although I usually enjoy wallowing in them so much that I end up turning the air down at night, just to keep them on longer.

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    1. Lisa, you sweet thing, I love your comments...I feel like I'm having a conversation with you across the miles! That is SO great about Madam Blueberry...it really IS a timeless classic! And your VHS/DVD conversion project? Um, yeah: needs to happen here. Depending on how long TS drags out (thank you so much for your faithful prayers, by the way...I promise to update you soon, but as you can see from this post, we are still IN it), I might just get that dreaded deed done myself! And LOL for real about your 6.2 hours of fuzzy sheets. I AM sorry, as you know...maybe this will be an unusually cold winter down there and you can put them on in January? I would love that for you. Oh, and "the glow of the nighttime lamp"? Seriously, you just make any day better with your clever wit. Thank you for this gift of "you-ness" in these words! :)

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  3. Love this list, Elizabeth!! These ideas are so helpful when we're in a season of waiting, which comes to all of us in different seasons. I think taking actions like you've shared while waiting is a wonderful remedy for "stewing," which is definitely in my bag of tricks. :)

    Number 3 is perfect - I get such a good feeling when I finally conquer some task I've been dreading and putting off. Not only can it take my mind off "TS" but it can give me a great sense of satisfaction! And memorizing Scripture and being thankful on purpose are things I should definitely focus on when I find myself having to wait for a resolution to a situation.

    Pinning this to refer back to later as well!

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    1. "Stewing." YES, Tracey...that's exactly what my default setting is in seasons of waiting. I think it's because as moms, we want to "fix" things and change things and resolve things NOW, so when we can't...well, some of us (me, for example) "stew." Thanks so much for leaving your encouraging feedback. Now I think I need to go pray and be thankful while I fold the laundry! ;)

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  4. Excellent ways to put that waiting energy to work. Love them all!

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    1. "Waiting energy." I love that spin, Lori! Great way to look at "stewing" and "fretting," which is usually what it feels like I'm doing. Thanks for reframing this for me!

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  5. I needed this right. at. this. moment. I'm in the middle of waiting out a situation, Elizabeth and it is getting old, really old. I'm determined I'm going to control what I can control and just wait on the Lord in this. Thank you for this beautiful reminder and tips on how to handle the waiting game. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

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    1. Oh, sweet Lori, I SO, SO feel your heart on a situation that is "getting old, really old." It just wears you down, doesn't it? It's one thing to go through something hard when you know it has a definite end or you know what the outcome will be, but uncertainty in either area--or both!--is so tiring. I pray God will reveal Himself to you in new ways as you actively wait on Him. Thank you so much for hosting Thankful Thursdays!

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  6. We live in a culture that's instant everything. Instant dinner, instant shopping (with rushed 24 hour delivery), instant downloads, etc. Where has patience gone? I fear what this is doing to our future generation - when everything is so instant, how do they learn to truly rest and wait on God?! I even struggle with this myself at times.

    I love your suggestions Elizabeth - prayer is one of my favourites - and one that I need to do more - especially when in a season of waiting.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the last #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer! I already miss the #SHINEbloghop but wish you and the other lovely hostesses the best along whatever new roads you travel from now on! Bless you!

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  7. Elizabeth - such a great post with fantastic tips. I love your sense of humor in the midst of "the situation" For me, I do something that brings me joy... like decorating my house for the season we are in, or going to the movies, or simply staying home snuggled on the couch watching the oh so predictable hallmark movies... no thinking needed or allowed. Thanks for stopping by my place from #WomenWithIntention I am visiting back :)

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    1. "...simply staying home snuggled on the couch watching the oh so predictable hallmark movies... no thinking needed or allowed." Um, YES, PLEASE!!!!!!!! What a fabulous addition to the list. I must remember this. If anyone asks what I'm doing, is it okay if I tell them, "Debbie told me to"? :) Thanks so much for stopping by from #WomenWithIntention!

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  8. These are all wonderful suggestions that will work! That is the best part. We truly can be active while we wait. Love the Veggie Tale clip :)

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    1. Thank you, Joanne! What a nice compliment...I'm honored. And yes, sometimes Veggie Tales just says it best. ;) Thank you so much for taking time to visit!

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  9. Elizabeth, I came to your blog via the #GraceandTruth Linkup I am SO glad I did. I love your writing. I first read your bio and knew I was going to like your writing. It's completely refreshing. I so get the "waiting game". The only thing I would add to your list of "what to do while you're waiting" would be to just live life and enjoy it. Don't allow TS to overshadow everything and steal your joy. Enjoy as much as you can on the way to the promise. Hb 10:35-36.
    Much love,
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

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    1. Oh my goodness...thank you, Sherry! I needed YOUR words today, especially these: "Don't allow TS to overshadow everything and steal your joy. Enjoy as much as you can on the way to the promise." Thank you so much for being grace and truth to me today!

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  10. These tips are so helpful! I seem to be in a season of waiting quite often. I am learning to wait better, but still have a way to go. #3 is one I need to do more often, plenty to tackle around here :) Visiting from Grace & Truth.

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    1. Thank you, Mindy! I'm pretty fond of #3 myself. With a 100-year-old farmhouse that needs 100 years (at least) of work, there's no shortage! Thank you so much for stopping by...God bless you in your waiting.

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  11. Great suggestions, Elizabeth. I'm actually waiting now on a call from my youngest daughter's hematologist about some of her blood work. She's had some issues with hemolytic anemia since she was born, and we're trying to figure out why. So, your post is very relevant to me today!
    I'm praying for your family!

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    1. Oh my, Shannon! I'm glad if this post hit at the right time, but I feel badly for that you have reason to relate to it. I pray that you heard from the doctor with something useful today. It must be so hard to wait and wonder. Thank you for your prayers...we actually just had some "activity" in TS last night and are still a little shocked. Now it's a new kind of waiting--so I guess I still get to practice what I've posted. Thank you for taking time to stop by!

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  12. This is a great post, Elizabeth! I love your ideas to help keep us moving forward while we wait for The Situation to resolve. I have chosen your post as my Grace and Truth feature this week. Hop on over to my site to get your "I was featured" button. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Aimee!!! Thank you so, so much! I am beyond thrilled and honored. It has been a rough week: we've had a major shift in The Situation but are still waiting--just in a different way. Your kind words have lifted my spirits. Bless you!

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!