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Everyone has endured the endless traffic light, the queue that goes nowhere, the elevator music piped through the phone line. But what of those periods in your life when everything seems on hold? When you can't do the next thing in your professional or personal life because you can't get to it?
Waiting—be it for health, a life partner, a child, a job—can be an agony. The persistently unrealized goal feels like an endless road. And hope's constant deferment can be exhausting. A firm answer against the thing you're hoping for—"no"—might be easier than this constant lack of closure. It might be easier to give it up.
But what if waiting means to be something else? Waiting doesn't have to mean idleness. Our prolonged state of need might teach us to look beyond the desired goal to something infinitely better. We find lessons on this throughout the Bible and, if we are paying attention, in our own lives.
Rather than fostering frustration, periods of waiting might have great truths to tell us. It might show us that hope is worthwhile. Waiting might even be a gift in and of itself.
Read an Excerpt
The first lesson of waiting is that we are on the outside. Like the boy on the sideline; like the not-engaged friend who pins wedding gowns on Pinterest; like me squinting for lines that fail to emerge on the pregnancy test; none of us--whether or not we are actively waiting-- is where we want to be. This might not seem true, of course. This actually might seem patently untrue. You might be happily ensconced in a loving family, a marriage, a tight-knit circle of friends. You might belong to a country club or a sorority, a church, a civic group.
But, like that of all who wait, the human condition is actually a condition of being on the outside, an unhappy state that writers and poets have noticed since time out of mind. It's true of all of us, but we manage to obscure it from ourselves with all manner of distraction: accumulated wealth and possessions, meaningful or frivolous activity, even what is truly good and beautiful.
The problem is that you can't contend with something if you simultaneously ignore it. And the fact of our exile--the fundamental state of all human existence--is not going away.
Waiting can teach us this.
About the Author:
Before dedicating herself to writing full time, Rebecca worked with Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill to develop the curriculum for their humanities department; she also worked as an English teacher at public and private middle and high schools in Durham and Pittsburgh. Rebecca's debut novel Healing Maddie Brees was published in 2016 to literary acclaim. Her beautifully crafted personal essays on her blog "Small Hours" have earned her a strong audience of readers who enjoy her explorations of themes relating to family, marriage, faith, writing, language, literature, and film.
"Rebecca Brewster Stevenson's writing is consistently powerful, complex, honest, and hopeful" (Andy Crouch, author, Culture Making and The Tech-Wise Family). Rebecca's writing has also been called "exquisite" (Stephen Chbosky), "thought-provoking" (Barbara Claypole White), and "gorgeous" (Kirkus Reviews).
Light Messages: https://www.lightmessages.com/rebecca-brewster-stevenson
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