I think Tom Petty nailed it.
Because truly, when the stakes are high, when our hearts are invested, when we want to know what the future holds oh so badly, the waiting is the hardest part.
The song The Waiting, written and released by Petty in 1981, is about achieving dreams. For so many of us, when we discover a dream within our hearts, we strive to attain it. We pour out our souls, we dive into our aspirations, and we discover this: part of the process is to wait.
Wait to see what happens. Wait to see if our dreams will come true. There are never guarantees; it’s always a risk.
But I tend to take the song a step further. Because no matter what we’re waiting on-dreams, paychecks, love, bucket list achievements or even biopsy results, the same is always true: waiting is indeed hard.
I am currently in a place of waiting. Waiting for difficult circumstances to end. Waiting to see what will happen next. Waiting for God to reveal his greater plan.
I don’t like it.
Because in the space of waiting, I have so many questions. Thoughts starting with ‘What if’ and ‘How’ and ‘Why’ float around in my brain. Un-answerable questions lined up like a row of Dominoes; each game piece dependent upon how the others fall.
And so I find myself thinking about this particular Tom Petty song often.
Over and over, the chorus plays in my brain:
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith; you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
Why do we have to wait? It’s a reasonable question; one I’ve been pondering as I find myself in this place. And here’s what I think…
Whether we like it or not, waiting changes us. Teaches us. Strengthens us. When we are forced to wait, we grow. It is in the waiting that we learn how to:
Trust. When we don’t know what will happen, we have two possible ways of thinking: we can fret or we can trust. If we fret, we choose the path of worry, we give in to fear, think that everything is going to fall apart. If we choose to trust: we can believe circumstances will work out, all will be okay. We can take solace in the fact that things will fall into place. No matter where life takes us, we must trust it’s where God wants us.
Persevere. When we can’t see the forest for the trees, we have two paths of action: give up or keep moving. If we give up, we succumb to fear, fall apart, make things more difficult for ourselves in the long run (no growth, no lessons learned). If we keep going, we find our own strength, gain courage, become stronger individuals. We always survive.
There are numerous verses in the Bible on perseverance (Romans 12:12, Galatians 6-9, Romans 5:3-5 to name a few) and for good reason. Giving up is easy, forging ahead in times of adversity, this is the more difficult path. We can always look to scripture for reassurance.
Rely on God. When we don’t know what the future holds, when fear or worry or even excitement grip us, it’s easy to get caught up in our thoughts. But this can be exhausting. So much of life is beyond our control. We must accept that God has our best interest in mind, even when it doesn’t make sense.
So while I’m in a place of waiting, and while I don’t really like it, I know it is good, necessary, part of the process. I will sit back, take things day by day and wait. And one day soon these circumstances (as well as winter!) will come to an end. And I will be okay. Maybe even better.