I am not a patient person. In fact, I can be a bit impulsive and rash at times. It’s a consequence of being passionate, I tell myself. (And that’s called justification.) Jay Z summed up the sentiments of our culture in an inappropriate song from my teenage years: “I got no patience. And I hate waitin.”
Many aspects of today’s culture feed into this personality characteristic quite well. My most common outlet is Amazon Prime. Pretty much anything I want, I can get instantaneously streamed or shipped to me within 48 hours. It takes so little forethought to order presents or to be entertained.
In a streaming culture with the world at our fingertips, waiting seems so passé.
I remember a time when trying to recall what movie a particular actor starred in or the definition of a word or a random sports statistic had to be analyzed and argued about instead of just googled. I recall my family’s first encyclopedia on cd-rom. It felt like magic. So much information in one place accessible to me through my clunky desktop computer.
Most businesses have had to find their own ways of speeding up the wait in order to stay competitive. Restaurants have apps for reserving tables and even pre-ordering your meal. Theme parks have fast passes and online access to current wait times for rides and attractions. And despite all the increased efficiency in our society, when we are forced to wait for even a minute, we can fill that wait time with scrolling. Check Facebook. Check Instagram. Check the latest scores. Text. Email. Tweet. Snapchat. (This one gets me. “Here is a picture of me waiting!”)
Waiting isn’t a time to talk or pontificate the meaning of life. It’s a time to distract. To prevent boredom. To minimize discomfort.
So what happens when all the technological and societal advances aren’t enough and waiting is unavoidable? In those moments, we have to decide how badly we want whatever we are forced to wait for.
That’s where I am. Waiting. When we decided to pursue adoption again, I had a feeling it wouldn’t be so quick or smooth this time around. That was rare, and I know this now. We had done our fair share of waiting prior to our son’s adoption. We struggled through infertility and made an intentional decision to pursue adoption, which involved a lot of paperwork and conversations and classes and tons of little details. It was not easy. But looking back, it was not nearly as hard as it is for most. I see that now, and I honor that.
This time around, our process looks a bit different. We have a little boy to consider and that means more waiting and praying and exploring and information-gathering. One of the reasons the adoption process is so intense is that it requires patience and discernment and intention, as well as courage and risk and even impulsivity. It’s a wait, wait, wait….. GO! sort of process. And sometimes it’s even a wait, wait, wait.. Go-no wait, maybe go?-no, go back to waiting process.
A question I keep asking myself during this ambiguous and confusing stage is “How am I waiting?”
Am I using this time well or am I biding time? Am I scrolling and streaming instead of reflecting and praying?
I want to wait well. Not just in our adoption journey, but in all areas of my life. I want to be present, but also allow myself to have vision and imagination for the future. I want to look inward and around instead of down or even straight ahead. I want to share my waiting experiences with others and not pull away or avoid. I want to feel uncomfortable instead of numbing myself with distractions and surface-level connection. I want to lean into my fears and honor the uncertainty of life. But I don’t want to do it alone. And I don’t think I am supposed to.
I am not a patient person. I will continue to use fast passes and call ahead to restaurants and get my tickets on Fandango because these conveniences make life less stressful and rushed for me. But when I have to wait, I want to wait well. And in my waiting, I want to be more attuned to those who are waiting, too. I want to wait with people and invite people to wait with me. After all, so much of the experience is the anticipation. When I wait with others, the anticipation feels exciting and connected. When I wait alone, I am much more likely to feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty and run away. I can tell you this, I would never wait an hour in line for Space Mountain by myself.
Many things feel scary right now. What would be most comfortable would be to forget the whole adoption thing and enjoy the comforts of my life as it is. But that is my fear talking. My flesh. My physical body instead of my spirit. So when things start feeling acutely out of my control, I have to ask myself:
How badly do I want this?
When I dig deep, the answer is loud and clear. Enough to wait as long as I need to.