"Anticipation is the feeling of hopeful expectation, believing in the magic of what has been and what be might again. This we know to be true: there is wonder in the waiting."
I saw this quote hanging on the wall of the shop at Magnolia Farms in Waco, Texas. Magnolia Farms is the headquarters of Chip and Joanna Gaines' business, hosts of the HGTV show, Fixer Upper. Obviously, this store was beautifully decorated with tasteful interior design. But this quote stood out among the beautiful Christmas ornaments and sweetly scented candles.
These winter months are the season of anticipation. People are anticipating Christmas, relaxation, a time for renewal, and the end of another semester. While I treasure the feeling of anticipation and looking forward, I think it can be all too easy to get caught up in the future and forget about living in the present. And I believe there is power in living life in the present. There are a million and one quotes out there about living in the present and living like every day is your last but I think there is something to be said for Chip and Joanna's wall hanging. There truly is "wonder in the waiting."
I have genuinely enjoyed my first semester of sophomore year and while I am living in the moment, I am also at a time in my life where there is a lot of waiting to do. I am waiting for my next semester of college, to go on a semester of study abroad, and to apply for physical therapy school. But I am also waiting for the little things: seeing my sister when I land in Dallas, to finally submit the twelve page paper for my anthropology class, and to perform in our final a cappella gig this semester.
This fall semester I have been meeting with a small group through Bread Coffeehouse. Bread is a Christian ministry, free, non-profit coffee house close to Emory's campus. Myself, two other sophomore girls, and our leader, Carly, meet once a week on Wednesdays to discuss topics and related bible verses.
Last week, for our final meeting, we read the message version of Isaiah 40:27-31.
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
"God has lost track of me.
He doesn't care what happens to me"?
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.
Carly asked us all to comment on what stood out to us in the passage. Almost all of us mentioned the line "For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall" and we all referenced "God doesn't come and go. God lasts."
Perhaps it is because we are slap bang in the middle of finals season, but the idea that "even young people tire" and "stumble and fall" was comforting. All three of us described the intense pressure we feel like college students to have the future all figured out, and the legitimate fear we have that all the hard work we put into college could potentially not turn into something prosperous and fulfilling in the future. It was then when we discussed anticipation.
We are anticipating short-term things like finishing the semester but we are also hopefully expecting a future we deeply desire. I remember thinking that living in the present and living in the future are currently both equally as terrifying. Living in the present means accepting the hardships of college academics and living in the future means dealing with the fear that I may not get that dream job or financial security. Carly brought us back to the verse and that "those who wait upon God get fresh strength." It was a simple reminder that although we might feel like life is out to get us at the moment, and we might trip and fall, there someone who will always have our back.
In this season of waiting, it can be too easy to get bogged down by the negative and fearful emotions. We must rest in anticipation, "hopeful expectation" because if nothing else we can remember that good things have happened in the past, and good things will happen again. If we shift our mindset from fear to curiosity, maybe the future can be something to look forward to instead of shy away from. We can finally understand what it means to have "wonder in the waiting."