THE DISCOMFORT OF WAITING
“Even before the light turned red, my hand was locked on my phone, thumbing its way to Instagram.”
In the perfect story of life, the next line would probably read, “and that was when I stopped acting like a technology-addicted-adult. My life has never been the same.” But that would be a big-fat lie. The reality is … that first line? It’s not the only one like that in the story of my life. Others include drive throughs and grocery store queues, in waiting rooms and school pick up lines. And perhaps you can relate?
Joanna Gaines wrote in “The Stories we Tell” something that I am carrying with me into this next season of life (and, honestly, every single one after). She said,
“I’m starting to see that presence doesn’t have anything to do with waiting at all. I think it’s more about choosing to lean in when you could easily lean out.”
Waiting is hard because it requires us to be present to an immovable state of being; one that is quiet and not addled with “doing.” But, what if we could transform all of those moments into opportunities for presence? To lean into the quiet moment as an opportunity to meet God in the midst of it all, rather than just trying to lean out and away from what feels (at first) uncomfortable?
LEAN INTO PRAYER
The next time you find yourself reaching for your phone (as a distraction from the boredom and idleness of waiting), try one of these ideas for leaning into prayer instead:
1. Confront the discomfort right away: If silence is uncomfortable to you, ask yourself why it’s uncomfortable and allow the Lord to help you identify what makes it so difficult. If silence is not uncomfortable, ask the Lord for more moments and opportunities to meet Him in that silence.
2. Turn on music that leads you deeper into prayer. (Whether or not that is praise and worship is up to you.)
3. Pray a Hail Mary, asking Our Lady to help you learn how to wait well.
4. Pray an Our Father, slowly — really, deeply praying each line.
5. List off the names of everyone in your life that is on your heart to pray for in that moment. Don’t think too hard about it, just start saying their names (out loud or in your heart). Then, ask the Lord to care for them in their need.
6. Choose one of those people above to call or text spontaneously just to check in on how they are and encourage with your love.
7. Simply sit in that silence, praying as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
8. Cultivate curiosity by entering fully into the moment and observing the environment around you. Maybe there is something new to be learned by just observing the other people waiting in line with you. If you are outside, you can spend time looking at nature. Then thank God for the small things around you that you take for granted.
9. Do an examination of conscience to see where you have sinned that day and what virtues you need to cultivate into your life.
10. Read from Scripture, the Catechism, or that saint biography you never have time for. Maybe you’ll strike up a fruitful conversation with that stranger who sees you reading the Bible in the most ordinary of places.
BONUS IDEA: Make your car a sanctuary of sorts that reminds you of the need to stay connected to prayer. Perhaps you place a holy card on your dash. You keep a rosary in your cup holder, a devotional book in your glove compartment. And/or you add a saint medal keychain to your purse or backpack.
Editor’s Note: If you incorporate any of these ideas into your ordinary moments of waiting, connect with us online and let us know how they bear fruit in your life! We’d love to hear from you!