What to Do When You Are Forced to Wait

5 Strategies When Patience Doesn't Come Easy

I am good at a few things. But waiting is not one of them. Whether it’s being put on hold when I call a business, sitting in the waiting room of my dentist’s office, or standing in the airport security line, I am impatient.

Thinking about this, I was reminded of a time when my granddaughter, Libby, landed in the emergency room. She had been showing strange symptoms for a couple of years. Finally, after Libby got violently sick, my daughter, Mindy, took her to the emergency room.

The hospital was unusually busy, so they sat for more than four hours before getting in to see a doctor. He ordered some tests, but you know how that goes: more waiting. The ordeal seemed like it would never end.

At various points our lives, we’re all waiting for something important. Perhaps you are waiting for:

  • Word that you landed that job you want
  • News about a possible raise or promotion
  • Mr. or Ms. Right to show up
  • Your pregnancy test results
  • The judge’s decision on your court case
  • A response to an important email
  • Approval for a loan
  • The answer to a prayer
  • The pain to stop

While I’m still not very good at waiting, I have gotten better. Here are five strategies I am currently using:

  1. Embrace it. I don’t believe anything happens by chance. To say it another way, everything happens for a reason. If I am waiting, there is something for me to learn. Waiting might actually be a gift.

  2. Ask the right questions. I’ve blogged about this recently. An unhelpful question would be “Why can’t they hurry up?” or even “Why is this taking so long?” A better question is “What can I learn while I am waiting?” or “How will this kind of waiting make me stronger?”

  3. Redeem the time. There are lots of things you can do while you are waiting if you are prepared. This is why I rarely go anywhere without my iPad. Worst case, I can read a book on my iPhone.

  4. Encourage someone else. One of the best things you can do when you are waiting is get the attention off yourself. I have to keep reminding myself, “It’s not all about me.” Encouraging someone else while I am waiting doesn’t solve my own problem, of course. But it makes me feel like I am at least doing something—and making a positive contribution.

  5. Trust God. This is the difficult but important part. God has not forgotten about you or me. He not only knows exactly what we need; he knows when we need it. His timing is perfect. I like how Jesus showed up in the story about Lazarus. It looked like he was two days late. His friend had died. But he arrived right on time—for what he wanted to do.

Back to Libby. The good news is that she’s been well now for several years. In fact, she just started seventh grade!

When it comes to patience, I need more schooling as well. Suffice it to say, I have a lot more to learn. This is not easy for me. But I certainly get plenty of opportunities.

Question: What’s your best strategy for coping while you wait?

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