The Secret to Waiting Well

Written by: Anne Peterson
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I used to hate waiting. At the grocery store, any line I chose would magically need change, or a price check. It seemed like it was always something to make me wait.

Didn’t she realize I had things to do? Places to go?

I’m ashamed to admit I was a toe-tapper. If I restrained my foot, I’d sometimes let out a sigh, much like escaping air from a balloon. At the very least, I rolled my eyes. Sometimes outwardly, sometimes inside my head. At other times I looked for kindred irritated shoppers, then we sighed in harmony.

When the cashier apologized for the wait, I’d smile and lie that it was fine. It was never fine, at least not in my mind.

One day, while listening to a radio program, Joyce Meyer asked a question I had never considered before: “do you wait well?”

She gave various examples of impatience. It didn’t take long for me to realize she was talking to me, and I needed God’s help to change my toe-tapping, eye-rolling ways.

Impatience is a sign of entitlement

I realized I had been acting like a master instead of a servant. A prideful master; fully dressed in a suit of entitlement. God showed me if I wanted to act like a master, I should model Jesus. Not only was he patient, but instead of waiting to be served, Jesus took a towel and served, by washing his disciples’ feet (John 13).

I was acting as if I was above waiting. Waiting was okay for others, but not for me.

As God began helping me in this area, I recognized my opportunities to wait were little tests. How would I do?

  • Would I resort to tapping my foot?
  • Would I change lanes, sighing?
  • Would I quietly seethe?

Learning patience takes time

At first, I stayed in my line, stewing inwardly. As I asked God to help me, I felt something inside of me stretching.

When my outward attitude improved, God worked on my heart. As I got better at waiting, it got easier to wait. Then God showed me another area to improve: waiting on a loved one. My body still tensed up, but I saw these opportunities as further tests. I passed some of these tests and had to retake others.

One day, as my daughter apologized for being late, I realized I was relaxed. God was making me patient as I trusted him and focused on living as a servant. To have a healthy crop of patient fruit, I need to let God make me mature. Galatians 5:22-23.  After all, I am a work in progress, I have not arrived. You can ask my family. On second thought, it’s best if you don’t.

A funny thing happened as I learned how to wait well. Instead of thinking about my frustration, I began noticing other people around me. I started engaging cashiers in small talk. I’d ask how their day was going, or I’d stand there and pray for others.

I saw that the world did not revolve around me. Everyone was not there to meet my needs.

As long as we’re here on earth we will have times we need to wait. While we’re driving, standing in a line in a grocery store, or even waiting for another person to finish, pay or get ready. All of these instances provide us with opportunities to learn patience, to see others as better than ourselves, and to grow in patience and selflessness.

Phillippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

We all have to wait – the question is, do you wait well?

Check out an earlier podcast by Anne here.