Forks clatter on plates and our breakfast conversation somehow turns to hospitals and how blessed we’ve been to spend so little— and for some of us, none— of our lives there. My bro proclaims the fact that he has never been to the hospital and never intends to, other than for visiting others and such. It’s not till later this morning that it hits me that while I’ve spent very little time in a hospital, I’ve spent a good portion on my life in a waiting room… just not the kind you’d think.
It first began to sink into me when I read the deep words on a blog sometime last year… “It can look like we all have this waiting room addiction: Waiting for the next season of life to say it’s good enough. Waiting for the next number on a scale to say we’re okay enough. Waiting for the next dream, the next house, the next step up, the next bend in the road — before we can finally start living, before we can finally step into Really Living…” Ann Voskamp
It resonated with me instantly. I thought back to all the times I looked to the future and how life would be “real” when I got there. I’ve always been a future thinking girl, sometimes to the chagrin of my poor mother. :) When I was little I couldn’t wait to start school. When I’d started school I could not wait to be done and on summer break. Sometimes I made ridiculous schedules to get there which included 13 math lessons in a day. But truth be known after I was a few weeks into summer break all the things I thought would be so exciting got a bit old and I’d finger the books for the new school year and eagerly await starting.
It was an inside joke in our family when Caleb and I were little that no matter what the season was, we wanted it to hurry up and move on to the next one. Once fall came we couldn’t wait for winter and would get up in the morning and look out the windows in the hopes of snow. But somehow after a few months of that, we couldn’t wait for spring.
The compelling interest in the next thing didn’t stop back then though. Once I hit ten I couldn’t wait to be thirteen and then I wanted to be sixteen and so on. Once I finished high school I couldn’t wait to be done with my associates, and once that was done, with my bachelors. And now I just finished my bachelors and somehow I’m already thinking to what will come after I’ve finished my masters. Funny how that works.
But the truth is, it’s not just about the big things like degrees. It affects everything. Once that certain project is done in the kitchen, I can enjoy the rest of my day. Once that FR is done I’ll get to work on the next thing. Once that stage is past there will be another more exciting and somehow “better” one.
I’ve been making it a priority to learn to slow down my rush and enjoy the moments. But old habits die hard. While I may see the struggle in many areas there are others I miss.
This morning it struck me that this waiting room addiction can take a more seemingly pious form. My simple prayer of “God, I want to learn to love you better and live everyone of my days closer to you” had turned into something more like “God, I want to be closer to you, and I’m not going to enjoy the relationship I do have with you until I am. I want more of you in my days. But until I can sense that prayer answered, I’m going to keep sitting in this waiting room. I won’t treasure the one life I do have until it is the way I think it should be. I can’t love all that you are to me until we are as close as I think we should be.”
Don’t get me wrong... I think dreaming big and aiming high is vital. There’s a reason I was praying those prayers in the first place. I want to be closer to Him everyday. I want to love Him more today than I ever have before. And I know He wants us to be close even more than I do— just in His own time and way. But while I want so much more, I don’t have to pause living today until I have it. So often I try to control God by telling Him what I want to learn and how I want to be closer to Him while being unwilling to enjoy what He’s already given while I wait. I may indeed wait. But there is a difference between patient waiting on God while we treasure each moment to the full and this "waiting room" waiting that impatiently wants life to hurry up and bring the next thing.
Because really is sitting in our waiting room the way to treasure this life? I mean, if we could be anywhere in the world, why would we choose a waiting room?
But we do.
I’ve realized that I am very prone to rushing through my life (understatement of the year). It’s a habit I’m working to break. I’ve put boundaries in place. I’m currently reading and listening to several books on the topic as well as other favorites I frequently turn too. But truth of the matter is, no matter how much I learn about what life should look like, no matter how much I thin out my schedule, the issue will remain unresolved until I let Him change my mindset. I have to choose to intentionally enjoy this moment and live this day. I have to choose to not consider today a day to “do” so I can be one step closer to the next big thing. It is a day to treasure for all that it is.
And while I want with all my heart to be closer to Him every single day, I have to do this His way. I can’t get up in the morning and say “ok God, today is the day I’m going to learn how to keep my heart open to you.” Maybe His time scale isn’t mine. Maybe He knows there’s something else for me to learn today.
For me it comes down to the realization that while I am striving for perfection because I want to be like Him, I don’t have to live in the waiting room until I get there. Today is a gift. Today I won’t learn it all. Today I won’t do everything. Today I may not feel as close to Him as I would like. But today I will live. I will do my best. I will ask what is His will. I will seek to do what He wants and not worry about the things He doesn’t.
Because the thing is, we don’t reach perfection in Him in a day. It’s a ladder. And we get to live at each step. We don’t have to wait for life to begin until we’ve reached the top. We get to treasure each stage.
I’d copied the words into my journal just last week… “If a youth has to begin at the lowest round of the ladder, he should not be discouraged, but be determined to climb round after round…” EGW
There is a world of growth before us. There are new heights to reach. I don’t want anything to distract me from reaching them. But at the same time, I’m determined to stop believing the lie that life doesn’t begin until I reach them. I’m determined to not sit in the waiting room until I’m perfect.
I don’t want to rob Him of the intimacy we were meant to share in this moment by living my whole life for something more exciting in the future. This is the only moment I am promised. In this moment I will grant Him access to myself. In this moment I will love Him the best I know how. In this moment I will count all the gifts He is giving. In this moment I will be honest about the deepest corners of my heart. In this moment I will treasure this gift of life He has given me.
In this moment, I’ll be His little girl.