Making an American wait is the worst insult you could possibly hurl at them.
Here in the United States, we are machines of productivity. Get the fastest coffee maker. Maximize your morning routine. Put your makeup on while driving to work. Keep six tabs open on your browser at once because if you don’t do it now, you never will. Time is money. Time isn’t expendable.
And waiting is wasting it.
So if you stand in the way between me and my productivity, you’re working to minimize the amount of value I’m trying to produce out of my life. Stop driving the speed limit and slowing me down. Stop trying to have a conversation with me at my desk.
What’s worse is when you can’t blame anyone except circumstances. You don’t have enough money to go back to school, so you have to take a semester off and work for it. Maybe you’re sick—very sick—and can’t do much of anything until whatever the heck it is moves on. Until then, you’re not really…living.
Maybe we have a faulty perspective about “waiting”.
One night a few months ago, my stomach was feeling upset. My stomach always ends up hurting for some reason or another, so I tried to get my mind off it. By 11:30pm, I was on my side shifting and grabbing and crying out, hoping some sort of position would take the pain away. It wouldn’t. I yelled for my parents several times—they were too far away. I had to roll off my bed, drag myself across the floor, and gather the strength to lift up enough to reach and turn my door handle. A night in the ER came back inconclusive. The episodes came at least daily for seven weeks, and began to taper off into the eighth and ninth, still showing up now and again at random.
Can you imagine waking up every day wondering what time of day you’d be debilitated? Trying to plan your work and school schedule around your unpredictable episodes that would send you to your bed for hours? (Some of you probably can imagine it, unfortunately.) And anyway, you need to try to tough it out, because it’s the only thing you can do—but, you realize as you tremble and sob from pain on the floor of your workplace a few weeks later, you actually can’t.
There was a lot of waiting involved during those nine weeks. I left my job (partially due to health, mixed with other reasons) and didn’t feel I’d be well enough to work elsewhere. At any given moment I’d have to drop my schoolwork and wait for a few hours for the crippling pain to take it down a notch. In a lot of ways, my life was put on hold.
But that’s the problem. “On hold.”
When for whatever reason we are prevented from completing tasks we are used to doing, we consider our lives “stopped”. As if, until we regain that capacity to function properly, nothing happening in our life actually matters.
The irony is, the most amount of personal development and character building takes place in our periods of greatest weakness.
Apologist Ravi Zacharias puts it well: “Weariness is not a result of pain; weariness is a result of pleasure.” Consider for a moment the last time you heard of the death of a celebrity. What was your first assumption—poor health, murder, or suicide? It seems that every pop culture figure intentionally ends their own lives. We don’t have to reach the point of utter material satisfaction—complete success without excessive labor—to see its results. When a person’s social, material, and spiritual needs are met, there is still no complete contentment. We crave growth.
It’s true: I do still struggle with depression from troubles I face today. Yet I know for certain from previous experience that, had I not struggled with waiting for stomach pain to go away, waiting for stress to lift, waiting to return to my original college campus…my depression would have dissolved into submissive meaninglessness.
Perhaps, then, “waiting” is the best part of life. Perhaps I can thank God for my opportunities to struggle.
“[God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, forMy power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so thatthe power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then,I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. Forwhen I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)