Seasons of waiting are never easy. In my book, theyíre the equivalent of a long, harsh Pennsylvania winter.
My current waiting period is two years and counting. My husband and I are adopting a little boy from Haiti, and weíre only midway through the process. Our son was eight months old when we started, and heís now nearly three years old.
Iíve long since wearied of waiting. Iíve spent days upon days hoping and praying for that dayóthe day this season of waiting will end and my son will be home with his forever family.
The fact remains that while God calls us to wait, the waiting doesnít have to be painful or passiveóthough Iíve experienced both. Properly understood, waiting is an opportunity to grow and learn, to mature and bear fruit. And because I know my own season of waiting wonít be over soon, there are some things I intend to do while Iím waiting.
I will embrace the wait
Iíve tried kicking, screaming, and having a full-blown temper tantrum. I even threw a pity party once, but apparently the letters to the invitees got lost in the mail. I partied alone! Iíve resented the extended wait, the months of no movement on the adoption front. Iíve resisted the waiting, crying out with David, ďHow long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?Ē (Psalm 13:1, 2).
And then it hit me like a stampeding herd of buffalo. Which is easieróresisting or embracing? Going against the grain or with it? Struggling or submitting?
Yes, waiting is hard. But I donít have to make it harder by struggling against the wait. Thereís purpose behind the pain even if I canít see it right now. And so Iíve decided to be an active participant in whatever it is God wants to do during this waiting season. I will embrace the wait.
I will remember that Iím not alone
In a world that waits for nothing, itís easy to feel as if weíve been left behind when our own personal waiting season begins. Countless times Iíve had to remind myself that God hasnít abandoned me, and my friends and family still know I have a pulse, even though some days itís difficult to function in a way that doesnít resemble a zombie.
If youíre waiting, youíre in a vast company of people in the same boat. Connect with them. Iíve ďmetĒ several fellow adoptive parents on Facebook, and we pray for one another every day, upholding each other when weíre too weak to do so on our own.
Iíve discovered how crucial it is to stay connected to other people and to God, because no matter what my feelings tell me, I am not alone.
I will allow the waiting to strengthen my faith
Iíll be honest, thereíve been moments during this waiting season that Iíve wanted to throw in the proverbial towel. Youíd think that the promise of a coming child would enable me to wait with vibrant faith. Not so. What Iím finding is that the longer the wait drags on, the more my faith takes a hit.
Abraham taught me a lesson, and it was Romans 4:18Ė21 that gave me a clue as to how to allow this waiting period to strengthen my faith instead of destroying it. During his extended wait, Abraham became a student of the power and character of God. He focused on God, not on the waiting. I canít think of a better way to spend the upcoming months of waiting.
Iím quickly developing a deeper sense of who God really isóHis heart, His character, His love for me and for my son. And in the process, my faith is expanding and growing stronger than ever.
I will realize that waiting is active
When we started the adoption process, I was busy, and I mean busy, with paperwork that would rival Mount Everest. But the real wait began once our dossier was officially in the hands of our adoption agency. Suddenly my life was on hold. I ceased living in the moment and instead lived for some unknown day in the future when my son would step onto American soil for the first time. Blessings passed me by as quickly as the tractor trailers on the Pennsylvania Turnpikeóone right after the other, never to be seen by me again. Iíve missed so much.
In the process of allowing my waiting moments to become passive instead of active, I also missed out on a lot in my relationship with God. Because the fact is that God meets me in this moment, not some obscure moment in the future thatís nothing but imaginative on my part. With that revelation, Iím determined to truly live in the present moment, even while Iím waiting.
I will keep my sense of humor
Sometimes extended periods of waiting will make you feel as though youíre in a wilderness season. Laughter decreases. Joy seems to be missing in action. And smiles are forced, never quite reaching the eyes.
Waiting is hard, and itís so easy to lose our sense of humor. We must guard it like Fort Knox, because when humor goes, so does our ability to cope, and crazy is just around the corner waiting to pounce like a flea on a dog.
Someone once said that life is too short not to laugh and life is too long not to laugh. I truly believe that. But to be honest, there are times when I feel guilty for laughing and enjoying myself, knowing that my son is sleeping in an orphanage in what looks like a wooden cage with a lock and surviving on two small meals a day.
By Godís grace, however, Iím learning that laughter is a giftóa gift that my son also experiences. And so Iíll keep my sense of humor and not let the enemy steal my joy. Iíll laugh with abandon while I continue to wait.
I will count my blessings
Itís funny how waiting so often turns into an exercise in reminding ourselves of what we donít have. I could go on and on ad infinitum about how this waiting season is negatively affecting both my son and me, which then turns into an all-out woe-is-me fest. Before long Iím hard-pressed to find any good anywhere. And this would be where I send out the previously mentioned pity party invitations. Thankfully, no one accepts, and I have friends and family who love me enough to point out my endless negativity.
That said, Iím working on counting my blessings, because really, I have a lot to be thankful for. While I have yet to meet my son, Iím grateful that God brought him into my life. Like the lost piece of a puzzle now found, he fits right in and makes our family picture complete.
Daily I am taking time to look around me, to see the beauty in nature, in people, in my home. Iím making a deliberate effort to be thankful, even for this waiting season, because truly I know that itís good and needful. I may not understand why the wait is so long, but I know Godís working in my life in amazing ways through the process.
I will celebrate Godís commitment to me
Like discipline, waiting can sometimes feel like punishment. I think, If I just get it together, God will move. If I confess some sin, Heíll act. Maybeóbut maybe not. God is sovereign, and His ways and timing donít always make sense to us humans.
We may think that when the waiting season ends, we can finally move on and get back to living. But waiting is a journey, not a destination. And on the journey God wants to mold us into His image. I donít want to come out on the other end of my waiting season only to find that I havenít grown closer to Him. I donít want to become bitter because the adoption is taking much longer than I ever dreamed it would.
I want to embrace the grace that God makes available while I wait. I want to celebrate Godís faithful commitment to me, because waiting isnít just about what Iíll gain at the end; itís about who I become while Iím waiting.