Oh, joy! Beth is one of my dearest friends. She is a confidant with a wicked smart wit and she is one of three people I will text during Steelers games. Welcome to Beth.
In his hit song, The Waiting, Tom Petty gets it right – the waiting IS the hardest part. While Tom is talking about the future with a lover that refrain can be aptly applied to many of life’s situations.
Growing up in a practicing Roman Catholic home, Lent has always been on my spiritual landscape. We gave things up and I really tried to make it a sacrifice. I gave up being mean to my little brother in elementary school, chewing gum (a seemingly IMPOSSIBLE task) in junior high and doodling the name of my crush of the week in 10th grade. In all of these things I WAITED…for Easter Sunday so I could do them all again. I think I even remember my basket being stuffed with gum in junior high! Somehow I think I was missing the point.
Life is filled with waiting – waiting for that phone call or email, for those test results, waiting in traffic or on line, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting is HARD – that fact cannot be escaped. Even the most Zen among us experience the lonely pangs of impatience. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are waiting for something thrilling or challenging, waiting is HARD WORK.
For many years I simply endured waiting – living through it without taking much notice of it. I busied myself with other things to distract my mind from the waiting. I would go to great lengths to avoid thinking about it – as evidenced by dozens of half started hobbies that lay like carcasses along the highway of waiting in my life.
Then one Lenten season in my mid 20’s I did something different. At the time I had a 25
minute commute to work and I decided to give up listening to the radio or CD’s in the car. This was before iPods or cell phones that played music – remember the dark ages? I won’t lie, the first few days were a bit dicey and I almost abandoned this heroic pursuit in favor of the old Lenten standard of giving up bad words…but I persevered. I don’t remember where the idea came from but I decided to start praying in the car. At first it felt super awkward and weird but it became more natural and I found a rhythm that made me content. Over those 6 weeks I felt like I learned a grown up secret – WAITING has a purpose. It changed ME. It did not change other people or the situations that consumed me but I was different. I embraced the waiting and allowed it to wash over me. I recognized that waiting would prepare me for what was coming if I allowed it to.
That was 15 years ago before I was a married woman with 4 children. I’d love to report that I am master at the art of waiting but that would be untrue. The thing about waiting is that it is in and of itself transformative. You have to go through it to be changed. The process can only happen if we are willing to yield ourselves to it. The very thing I dread – waiting – is the thing I need to teach me to be a gracious recipient of whatever comes.
These days it is harder to find space for my Lenten discipline, my life is crowded! This year I have chosen to pray in the shower! I am the first to rise in our home and so that time is usually not interrupted (although there are no guarantees). As the warm water rushes over me I ask my Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer to give me just what I need to live each day with grace, passion and purpose. Those are things worth waiting for. Peace be with you.
Beth Ruzanic loves life. She finds joy first and foremost in relationships but also in laughing, learning and living out loud. She lives in the City of Champions with her husband and their 4 magical children