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What do you think of when you picture someone–or yourself–waiting? Do you see sitting still, boredom, or even frustration because waiting is most often the denial of something we want NOW?

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Here is the actual definition of waiting, according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

  • To stay in a place until an expected event happens, until someone arrives, until it is your turn to do something, etc.
  • To not do something until something else happens
  • To remain in a state in which you expect or hope that something will happen soon.

Armed with the various definitions of waiting, we should start to see waiting as more of an action instead of this thing that we do only when we are forced to. Waiting can be a season of productivity, of personal growth and development, and of anticipation. Or waiting can be a season of frustration, feelings of defeat, involves jealousy toward others who have what we desire, or agony. It is really our choice. But let’s confirm one thing: we will wait.

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There are three common reasons that we are in a hold position, waiting:

  1. By choice: sometimes we choose to wait on something or someone. In these situations, we are often patient about waiting, know it is inevitable and just get through it. It doesn’t take too much of an emotional toll on us. Think about a waiting room, or waiting for a package to arrive my mail. You may even be waiting for a certain phone call.
  2. By circumstance: this is when we are waiting due to events out of our control. Maybe you are waiting on medical test results or waiting to hear back about a new job. These are waiting scenarios that we cannot control, do not anticipate, and our emotions may be involved, revealing feelings like irritation, frustration, and worry. Our patience is often tested.
  3. By timing: there are times in life where we have covered all of our bases, done everything right, feel really good about our life and decisions, and we still are waiting. These are often personal goals and dreams that won’t seem to happen. Maybe you are single and wish to be married. You are waiting for promotion or career success. You are waiting to qualify to buy a home. These situations tend to take the highest emotional toll on us, because we cannot understand why “this hasn’t happened yet?” 

When we find ourselves waiting, regardless of the reason, we have two choices: actively wait, or passively wait. What does this mean?

If we passively wait on something, we are sitting still, waiting and not being productive. We might feel defeated and stuck, unable to focus on anything else besides the unfairness of having to wait or being denied something we wanted. Our wait turns into inactive living, where we stop making new goals, stop believing in other options, and stop working on our own personal development. This is not the best way to wait on anything, because it robs us of enjoying our life experiences, and produces negative thinking.  This form of passivity often spirals and we find ourselves in a snowball effect of thinking (see this article for more details about this).

Actively waiting on something is action. We know we are waiting, and may even feel some disappointment around this, but we choose to keep moving and being productive. We are being led by our emotions and instead focus to think in a hopeful way. We continue to live our lives and do not take the waiting or denial too personally, understanding that it is just a season and will pass. We accept the situation for what it is, but continue working on other aspects of our lives, anticipating good things will occur. Waiting in this way produces positive thoughts, which leads to positive actions.

Waiting does not have to be idle time, where we do nothing until things change. If we practice this mindset, we will not get much accomplished in our life, because we are guaranteed to be confronted with a waiting season (often more than once). As our dictionary definition provided us: we want to remain in a state in which you expect or hope that something will happen soon. And while we are in this expectant state of mind, we need to stay active and continue enjoying our life.

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How will waiting in an active state of mind and action change things for you?

What other ways can waiting produce positive results in our lives?