Waiting Safely

When I was a child I used to love the weeks leading up to Christmas. The waiting for that one special day that was slowly approaching was almost delicious. Every class party, Christmas church play, cookie baking session or carol singing with friends seemed to add a little more anticipation until I’d find myself lying awake in bed on Christmas Eve too excited to even close my eyes. It was magical and wondrous.

I knew Christmas would come eventually, so in that waiting there was safety – to have joy, to have hope, to have all the excitement.

My waiting time as an adult has not been at all the same. Because here is the hard part: most of what we wait for is not promised to us. Will healing happen? Will love be found? Will I ever have a child, a community, a ministry, even just a visa????

We wait for all these things and in this waiting it does not seem safe. We want to keep our hope contained, to not let ourselves feel too much or want too much. We don’t allow ourselves to linger in the joyous anticipation of what is right around the corner. Because what if it’s not? What then?

My family and I know this feeling very well right now because we are literally classified as a “waiting family.” We are in the process of adopting from the States and we’ve done all the things that we have control over. Applications have been filled out, home studies have been checked off, profile books have been completed, grants have been applied for and fundraisers have been done. We are on the list. We are being shown to expectant mothers. And now we turn all the control over to someone else and we wait.

This anticipation does not at all feel safe. Most of the time it feels huge and hard and so very scary.

Wrapped up in the adoption waiting is the unavoidable fact that we are not planning a home leave until we are matched and can come back for the baby’s birth and adoption finalization. So, at just the time when I want to be having long face-to-face conversations with family and dearest friends (who are just as invested in this as I am), I cannot.

And so I wait.

I wait to sit on my mom’s back porch and talk to her and my sister about baby names. I wait to have coffee with my best friend – also an adoptive mom – and pour out all my fears to someone who has been there and can say they understand. This waiting also feels huge and hard and scary. When I look back at other times in my life that were waiting seasons, I see a lot of fear. Many times I was so focused on protecting my heart from disappointment that I didn’t allow myself to anticipate, or hope, or even voice my desires out loud.

My constant question these days is what is God asking from me in this season, no matter how long it will be? How does He want me to wait?

When I search the Scriptures, I see that God is constantly bestowing the gift of waiting. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find many in the Bible who did not have a waiting season. The tail end of the Old Testament is all about the entire nation of Israel waiting for God to fulfill his promises. I read through the prophets this fall and the book of Habakkuk spoke to me loud and clear.

Habakkuk was a direct guy. His book is entirely a conversation with God where he is asking “How long, Oh Lord?… Why are you so silent?” He questioned why God could not fix the mess that was Judah and punish the evil of the other nations. And God answers him:

“Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days you would not believe even if you were told,” (Habakkuk 1:5).

This sounds super promising, until Habakkuk realizes that what God is going to do is allow Babylon to conquer Judah. Not exactly the answer the prophet was hoping for.

But there’s more… God will not let evil win. Babylonia will be destroyed-eventually.

By the end of his book, after dialoging with God, Habakkuk says this:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

He knows without a doubt there are hard things coming. But he will be joyful.

What I think God asks of me in this waiting time is to allow myself joy and anticipation of what’s coming and what he will do. It does not seem safe to feel those things because I don’t know what is coming- it could be exactly what I hope for or, like Habakkuk, it could be what I fear the most.  But I can choose to have joy in what he will accomplish when the waiting is over, whether it meets my desires or not. To let go of the fear of disappointment and allow hope to grow.

Is God asking you to wait right now? How are you doing with that? Is trust something you’ve been able to develop during your waiting times?

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  1. Katie Rose December 4, 2017

    Wow, God’s timing is so perfect. I needed this reminder today, after a weekend of rehearsing the line, “I just need to not hope for that for awhile.” But that’s not what God wants. Waiting, in the Hebrew, is often translated as hoping (i.e. Isaiah 40.31); it also originally meant to twist, stretch–and then developed into “the tension of enduring, waiting” (BDB Heb. Lexicon). It paints a very difficult picture, but also a very real one, which is more comforting than I care to admit. Anyway, thank you for sharing this. Needed it this Monday morning.

    1. Lindsey Brewer December 5, 2017

      So glad it spoke to you today! I did not know that translation of waiting in Hebrew but I love that. And it is for sure a twisting and a stretching. For me, in this season, it has sometimes been moment to moment that I’ve had remember to hope and anticipate while waiting.

  2. Jessie January 9, 2018

    Thank you for writing this… as a single intercultural worker with a deep desire to become a mom through adoption, I am encouraged by your story. Praying for you right now.

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