By Ron Baker
We have all sat in a waiting room. Your first thought may be of the doctor’s office. A child is sick, an ailment has arisen or prescriptions needed refilled.
Or did you think of other physical spaces where you have waited? In line at the bank (I’m dating myself here), or at the self-checkout, or perhaps at the drinking fountain after a gym class.
Or did you think of the mental waiting space? Perhaps there is a big decision coming, or you have been told to slow down, or you are grieving a loss.
In the waiting room we can either fester or foster.
When you fester, you create a wall around you. You seem toxic to others – and you probably are. Did you survive the pandemic suspicious and untrusting? Have you been upset that everything is not going your way? Are you watching the time more than spending your time?
When you foster, you open the door to possibilities. The others in the room are your guests, invited by you to share your waiting room. When you are in silence in the waiting room your imagination is your friend. You can imagine inviting God to join you to expand your horizons and help you discern your future.
My last while has been a waiting room. One of my ‘gigs’ is working at Eston College. The school is moving to Regina in the near future. What will future employment (or unemployment) look like? Our family has some ‘messies” in the midst. What will the future shape of the family look like? My hobbies have been crowded by the other things of life. What will my hobby time look like in the future?
In the waiting room, I could very easily go into an aggressive administrator mode. I’ve been there, done that, got the Tshirt, worn it out, thrown it away! In this mode you study the past, buckle down on the normals that worked, rewrite the rules and polish up the job descriptions to avoid too much disruption in your life. No rest for the weary in that mode.
I would not recommend that solution. When you light the fire of merely reclaiming the past, you will burnout.
Learn to wait! Rest for a while! Enjoy the presence of others! Listen for the future!
Here I am preaching to myself! Not sure I’m always listening. Often the cares of this world drown out the voice of God.
I use that phrase advisedly. If I were an athiest I’m not sure there is anyone to listen to. In the waiting room I’m occupied with . . . nothing. At best I become my own god. But, as I reflect on my own past performance as god, the outcome proves pathetic – a sure path to poor mental health.
Of course, in the waiting room I could become apathetic. Ignorance becomes bliss, or so you hope. Except ignorance more often leads to assault, hurt, grief, loneliness, and a loss of hope.
I’d rather be a seeker in waiting. I rest best when control is wrested from me. When I’m no longer in control I’m left with restful trust – step by step. The plan is not of my own making. Yes, there is a plan, and the first step in the plan is to wait. Wait for the ultimate planner (let’s call that planner God) to reveal the next step(s). Others who are attuned to the planner will also help discern next steps for me.
A final caveat. Don’t spend time in a waiting room when the door has been opened to the future. Take that next step and look forward to the next waiting room.