On Waiting Well When the Waiting Is Really Hard


I’m really not the best person to write about waiting well. I mean, I get antsy waiting for people to finish eating their dinner when I’m ready for dessert. And that’s a mild example. I try and work on my patience, but when I’m tired or hungry or don’t feel well or…well, you get the picture…my patience? She wears thin.

I’ve heard it facetiously said that you should not pray for patience because if you do, God will give you something to be patient about. I must have messed up, because I have been waiting on something for years: a child.

When my husband and I were first married, we were frequently asked when we were going to have kids. We would jokingly tell people “5-10 years”…as we get closer to 13 years of marriage without children, this isn’t a joke anymore. Our story can be found HERE, but that isn’t really the focus of this post. The focus is on waiting well…even when it becomes painful.

In my own experience of waiting to become a mother, for many years, I felt patient. Given my history of lack of patience (see paragraph one), clearly this has not been a small feat. In Philippians 4:7, we’re told that the peace of God surpasses our understanding. In my case, the peace I’ve experienced while waiting for a child has certainly exceeded anything I could comprehend and can only be attributed to God. But after a couple of years of being in the adoption process, it has become difficult. Challenging. Painful. And like it is with grief, there are good days and bad days. Moments where I am perfectly fine and moments where I can barely catch my breath out of sadness or frustration. Thanks to God, I’m able to manage this well most of the time. But not long ago, after an already rough morning, I was meeting up with a friend when I became choked up about our current childless situation…this was an embarrassing and important break through.

I haven’t sat and cried with anyone over this. Yet, as a counselor educator and former therapist, I know how cathartic crying can be. How comforting it can be to share the burdens of your heart and hear someone say “me too” or even “I’m sorry and I’m praying for you.” Despite being a part of support groups and connecting with other parents in waiting and adoptive parents who have “been there, done that”, I have mostly kept my struggle to myself.

I hold back for many reasons: Because I want to be strong and I want others to see me as strong, because most people won’t understand and because I don’t want them to feel awkward, and because (and here’s the good news) I know this painful wait will come to an end. Oh how I look to that with great hope! This truth helps me cope with this difficult wait: God has a plan and this a part of it. Really, I think the best way to wait well is through prayerful anticipation that our wait will end and our prayers answered. By focusing on God, His promises, and His blessings, we are able to keep our attention on things other than our wait. Most of the time, anyway. And when the emotions well up and come out in the form of tears, that’s okay too. In fact, it’s a helpful release.

You see, it’s not really about being patient. And it’s not about holding back our pain. It’s about giving ourselves the freedom to be weak, because it is then Christ in us is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). And it’s mostly about holding on to hope that the wait will end. For whatever you are waiting on, the seemingly never ending day will be over. It’s worth waiting well for.

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Dr. Laurel Shaler
Dr. Laurel Shaler is the author of author of "Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing, for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events. She is a Licensed Social Worker and National Certified Counselor employed by Liberty University as a professor and department chair in the Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies. She is a former psychotherapist with the Department of Veterans Affairs, where she specialized in the treatment of trauma and anger. Dr. Shaler loves the Lord and seeks to help people at the intersection of faith, culture, and emotional well-being. You can learn more at her website www.drlaurelshaler.com or find her on Facebook or Twitter @DrLaurelShaler.