Waiting—Value or Waste?

Waiting—Value or Waste?


Google provided this projection: Human being spend approximately 6 months of their lives waiting in line for things, it means like 3 days a year or queueing up. The average person spends about 43 days on hold with automated customer service in one lifetime. Those who take the bus will wait about 27 days of their lives waiting around on the platform or at the bus stop.


The inspiration for this week’s blog topic came from a retired teacher who requested a blog on the blame-game based on roadwork backup that she had experienced just that morning. I was stuck in traffic on my way to Bible study. I was silently fuming. That didn’t help anything. I silently blamed the workers, who were just doing their job. Then I placed some blame on myself because I know I should allow more time for morning traffic. I am retired and I could easily allow more time.

Then I started thinking about how our society has become good at often blaming someone else or some other group for our problems. As a Middle School teacher, I often dealt with parents who blamed the teachers or the school for their parenting problems. Elected officials seem to be schooled in finding a source of blame for their failure to solve problems.

A second thought: During the past week’s remembering Queen Elizabeth’s life and legacy, I heard several commentators discuss the British art of queueing. One example is soccer star David Beckham who could have moved to the head of the line. However, he waited patiently for twelve hours to honor the queen’s passing. All over the UK, people waited patiently to see their queen pass by for the last time. They honored her, but they also respected each other. L

Waiting, as we all acknowledge, is not confined to being stuck in traffic but includes long lines at stores, doctor’s offices, restaurants, ball games, and amusement parks affecting the youngest to the oldest. Waiting on anything is not a very popular activity in our culture nowadays. Even its representative profession very often belies its very name—Waiters, now known as Servers—at times hovering over you instead of waiting upon you. In high volume restaurants, they can even seem to be hurrying you along.

Recall a couple of memorable experiences, then cruise down the following others’ suggestions for perspective.

  • waiting in the darkness, still half asleep, for the school bus
  • excitement and agony of waiting for Santa and morning
  • the parental answer “We’ll see” that meant endless waiting
  • inspiration to write a paper before midnight
  • wedding day
  • company to arrive— or leave
  • waiting for grades
  • birth
  • check to arrive
  • for a ride
  • snow to come and then leave, same with rain
  • flight to leave
  • surgery to begin and be over
  • for a promotion
  • spiritual direction

Dozens of various waiting examples can be named, but my goal is measuring results—negative and/or positive.

Waiting Drawbacks: Anger, Impatience:

When forward progress is hampered, anger and impatience often stride through the door. You may choose to check an earlier blog: Anger—Friend or Foe? 6-14-20 (ruthmcrobertsward.com) and a sample paragraph:

Anger is functional—a facilitator—appearing in all sorts of styles to alert, warn or announce existing or approaching problems.  Although warnings are annoying, they have a good purpose …The anger emotion is complicated and requires a bit of unraveling to provide an appreciation of its critical impact. Anger is a legitimate and helpful emotion pointing out to us areas that need extra attention in which to mature, especially as we acknowledge early on that no matter how old, important, rich, educated or in charge, waiting is as natural as inhaling and exhaling…

But if we entertain anger, other problems follow closely behind.

When relatives, customers known to have shallow depths of tolerance arrive, people who know them often tense up and move away, knowing that the least amount of waiting will tick them off.  It’s essentially wise and emotionally healthier to everyone involved to identify and acknowledge anger and take measures to quickly nip it in the bud.

Waiting Value: Patience, Humility, Creativity and Coping:

Waiting is as natural as inhaling and exhaling.  How waiting is handled turns the spotlight on one’s depth of humility and patience.  People who intentionally develop these two traits are pleasant to be around.

Waiting, like anger, becomes our friend as we discipline ourselves to appreciate the opportunity for improving patience, not allowing ourselves to be frustrated by long lines or extended delays. On-going character building is constantly being reinforced by accepting waiting-times as positive coping opportunities.

Waiting is an important discipline to observe and practice as adults as well as to teach our children and students in this immediate-gratification norm of the day--delivery tomorrow!  A sense of urgency prevails. When one of one our four children pleaded for a ‘want’ not a ‘need’ Jim I would respond, ‘Think it over for a week”. If after a week, they mentioned it no more, we knew it wasn’t a need, using the same guideline on ourselves. The lack of discretionary funds was actually a blessing giving us two reasons to teach and observe buying-discipline. The children became adept in discerning the difference between wants and needs. Waiting not only enables maturity in patience, teaches humility but also provides time for creativity to emerge. I was just reminded about an 8-hour delay on an interstate in West Virginia because of a snow storm that overwhelmed the snow removal workers. While Jim enjoyed visiting with truckers, my creativity was released with uninterrupted time to complete my Self Esteem book.

The last flight Jim and I took progressed from two delays to a cancellation with 24 hours until a new flight would be available.  We were both glad that I had packed snacks and books.  We walked, visited with other travelers, talked together and read.  Talk about lines! Wow! Long, long lines of irate customers who were blaming the people at the desk.  And as a total surprise to us, we were given two complementary vouchers as a reward. because we were calm and kind.  However, on reflection, I treasure that concentrated waiting time together, with no inkling that in a few months Jim would be taken from this life by brain cancer.  I used those vouchers last June. Waiting proves that we can cope with new difficult situations that we never dreamed we could endure, which in turn strengthens confidence.

Our heavenly Father knows how much we can endure. He also knows how to direct our lives and give us peace when we are anxious about difficult changes and new responsibilities toward which we feel inadequate.

The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are we who wait for him. Isa. 30:18 (NIV).

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness…Rom. 8:25-26 (NIV).

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Pet. 5:6, 7 (NIV)