What Do You Do As You Wait?
By: Donna Haug
October 16, 2003
“For the first time ever, I went to pay my Electricity Bill and there was no line up!!” My husband’s announcement this morning took me by surprise. If there is one thing you learn quickly in 3rd World Countries, it’s that anything worth doing … is worth waiting in line for! In order to pay any utility bill here in Mozambique, it usually takes a few hours of standing in line. What a difference for us when, just over a year ago, we could pay almost all of our bills on-line on the computer at any hour of the day or night, rather then IN-line for many hours (but only until 3)! Yes, “We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto!”
So, the question of the day is, if you know before hand that you will be standing in line waiting for a long while, what will you do with your time? Will you stand there and watch people? That can be an entertaining pass time. Will you stare off into space and daydream? Maybe you are one of those people who are always prepared with a book or a crossword puzzle in your shoulder bag. Unless you are prepared for these minor delays to your hectic schedule, you may find yourself becoming anxious. Frustration can build up and as they say in my home province of Newfoundland Canada, “Oh me nerves! Dere rubbed right raw and gone right dry!”
Now what do you do? Firstly, if there is nothing you can do about it, remind yourself there is nothing you can do about it! Sometimes we sit and fret about things that we have absolutely no control over! “Go with the flow!” May I suggest some profitable pastimes for the next time you find yourself sitting in a waiting room or standing in line? You could try striking up a conversation with the person standing or sitting next to you. You never know but that God has you standing in that line for “such a time as this”. You may have just the word of encouragement or kind word that person needs at that moment. Be friendly. Smile! You’ll be amazed at how quickly time can fly when you are in pleasant conversation. Note: it may not be too helpful to stand there and complain about the wait! If you cannot befriend your fellow waiter, then maybe it will be a convenient time for you to pull out your pocket New Testament, or the spiritually uplifting book that you just happen to always carry in your purse or briefcase. If you are sitting alone in an airport, a doctor’s office, or in the car waiting on your spouse, consider pulling out your notebook (or any scrap of paper you may have handy) and write something – write an article that has been tingling at the back of your mind or write a letter to a friend (if you still do the snail-mail thing) or maybe just describe something that grabs your attention which you can see from where you are. If distractions are not too much, maybe this is a good time for you to chat with your Lord about something that is weighing on your heart or lift up that friend to the Lord as their name pops into your mind. If you are stuck in traffic, why don’t you take advantage of the solitude and sing praise and worship to your Lord while He is your only audience! Those driving next to you may get a kick out of it too! You would be spreading joy to others without even knowing it!
Regardless of how long you may have to wait, your heart attitude will determine if the waiting period is a pleasant break from your crazy day or if it will become the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’. You can ask the Lord to show you how you can best make use of this time. You can allow Him to minister to your heart as you wait or you can be on the alert to see how you can minister to someone else. Or you can choose to sit and stew, get frustrated, get grumpy, tap your feet, twiddle your thumbs, growl at the person next to you, sigh, and then, having done all, wait some more. What will you choose? “But those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” (Isa. 40:31) My prayer for you today is that you would choose to wait on the Lord!
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Donna, I practice this anytime I go for a doctor appointment or a hospital test. I did that very thing two days ago and this morning. I agree with the person who liked the way you progressed from personal thought to general guidelines for others.
How worderful it would be to have the best of both worlds you describe. The mod cons of the western world, with the time and attitude of third world countries. Great story reminding that in fact culturally we are poles apart. Davy
Great article, Donna. I cannot imagine not having online access for payments. I do keep a notebook though and have written wonderful things while waiting. Very wonderful ideas and wonderfully written. Thanks.
Hi Donna! I liked what you said about striking up a conversation with someone. I've found that sometimes the other person is the one with a blessing for me! You're article was great. (I'm WAITING for inspiration!)
Donna, what a nice way to weave personal experience and tips for personal growth into once article!! As a generally impatient person, I appreciate your ideas on handling those unexpected and expected waits!!