lessons I learned in the waiting room

Around this time last year, I found myself sitting in the waiting room of an Ob/Gyn just a few days before Mother's Day. I was simply there for a routine check-up, which I'd put off for years. I wasn't in a "season of waiting" at the time, but I was surprised at how quickly the memories came back to me. Those old familiar feelings of wondering and waiting--of years with no answers; of not knowing how to plan for the future. I remembered how it hurt to wait and to receive disappointment in place of promising expectation. I pulled my phone out that day and wrote this note to myself:

"Being in this waiting room reminds me of my journey to my children: full of twists and turns; broken pieces that God made beautiful. There is a soft spot that is buried down really deep. I didn't know that it was still there...I think God wants me to remember and to reach out. Motherhood is not a given, it is a gift. Maybe one day I'll be an old lady and still have that soft spot. I hope so, so that I can  reach out to others and encourage them. I don't ever want to forget."

Now, I am no expert at the waiting game--honestly, I am still not very good at it. But I do have some experience with waiting (you can read more about that part of my story here and here), and there are some things I have learned that I feel are worth sharing:

 

#1 Embrace what you have while you wait.

There will always be a "next thing" you are waiting for. You will miss out on the blessings that are right in front of you if you let the waiting and the "next thing" consume you. Be thankful. Keep a "grateful" journal and write down something you are grateful for each day. Don't get so focused on what you are waiting for that you forget to appreciate what you have while you wait.

 

#2 Accept the journey.

There is really nothing enjoyable about waiting.  I will not try to glorify it or make it sound fun. Waiting is often accompanied by anxiety, worry, and often, disappointment. But I learned that waiting is not just a means to an end. You will grow roots there. You will learn patience and you will grow stronger. You will emerge a different person, more prepared to receive that very thing you've been waiting for. The wait will change you, whether you want it to or not, and I believe it is always for the better. 

 

#3 Stay openminded.

God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows.
— Tim Keller

When the doors closed on our 2nd adoption process, we set up a meeting with a friend of ours who works as an advocate for foster care and adoption. We shared our story and our hopes for our family with him, and then he shared several options with us. As he shared each option, it became more and more clear that, for one reason or another,  none of the options would work for our family. Discouraged, we expressed our concerns to him. What he said next stuck with me.

He thought for a moment, leaned back in his chair and said, slowly, "Well....there are processes in place. And if none of those work for you...then God is either going to change your circumstances, or change your heart.

I didn't know exactly what he meant in that moment, but he was right.

Although we didn't realize it at the time, there were a lot of deep-seated fears keeping us from entertaining some of the options he laid out for us that day. 

  •  We were concerned about the financial piece (we'd used up most of our savings and had a pretty small budget we needed to stick to).
  • We were afraid of choosing the wrong agency/path (the last agency had turned into a 4 year wait and resulted in a closed program). What if that happened again? 
  • We were afraid of having a huge age gap between our two children. Would they actually play together and bond? How would all of this affect our oldest son?

While we would have described ourselves as "open" to whatever God had planned for our family, we were open to things happening in a very specific way: our way. 

I have a pretty bad habit of praying for things and then quickly looking around at my circumstances and mapping out my own plan according to what seems most practical and realistic. The truth is that what you truly want and need may look differently than you think. When I finally opened my heart up to new possibilities I hadn't previously considered, those circumstances (aka my fears) no longer mattered, as everything fell right into place. As I have come to often say, God writes the best stories.

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#4 Accept that there are some things in life that you cannot control. 

This is perhaps one of the hardest things to do, but the truth is, if you were in control, you probably wouldn't be waiting in the first place. For me, finally realizing that I was not in control gave me relief. For years, I analyzed every little thing I did. Every decision was painful as I feared that making the wrong choice could cost me any hope I had of becoming a mom. It took years for me to learn that I could trust God, and to give Him control. The incredible thing about that is that it also means that you have someone working on your behalf that knows more than you do. I used to think I was going to "mess up" God's plan. It brings me comfort to know that God's faithfulness to me doesn't depend on my own faithfulness to Him.

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If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. - 2 Timothy 2:13

Wherever you are in your journey--I pray that these things I learned along the way hold true for you as well.