Winter painted the sky. Gray, overcast, and quiet—she breathed in and out, sending icy winds into the chapped faces of streetwalkers. And there I was without a coat, walking down Demumbreum. Chin tucked into my chest, I waited for the crosswalk light to turn green.
My Sophomore year of college, my anthropology professor alerted me to a startling reality. Americans don’t look at one another when passing. Culturally, if you’re within eight steps of another person, one (if not both) will look away. This struck a cord with me somehow. Perhaps I feel people deserve eye contact. Perhaps it’s my small way of spiting an increasing isolated culture. Regardless, I generally look at the people around me as I walk. This morning, however, I saw nothing but gray concrete beneath my gray boots. Gray, gray winter.
Bongo Java’s door swung open, and I felt the feeling come back into my cheeks as I sat in a large red chair, waiting for my friend to arrive. People from the youth convention across the street began pouring in, dramatically letting out exclamations of how the weather had turned overnight. Their wind-kissed cheeks made them lovelier than they knew, and I remained a silent admirer from the corner of the room.
The espresso machine made music, only occasionally being interrupted by a barista, calling out a name. And as I waited, I reflected upon a tear stained pillow and an impatient heart. And the whisper that came as a response. “The Lord is good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.” (Lamentations 3:25 MSG) And out of nowhere, a verse I memorized and pinned to my bulletin board in 2003 (hence the MSG version) popped into my head as a means of comfort.
What does it mean to wait passionately? I’ve been hearing the phrase in my head for weeks now. Waiting is generally deemed as being a negative action. We wait for news. We wait for the weekend. For graduation. For the “right” job. For 5 p.m. to roll around. And more often than not, we wait for a divine epiphany as to what we should study, who we should marry, and what career path we should take.
I’ve found, over the course of the past several years, that God doesn’t always reveal himself to us in the way that we think he ought. Most often, there isn’t a huge sign giving us direction as to which way we should go. And He most definitely does not hand us a detailed timeline of when particular life events will take place. Wouldn’t that have been a great graduation present. No, most often, we find ourselves in a period of waiting and wondering.
I’m beginning to realize that I’ve been waiting in all the wrong ways. I huff and puff and wonder and whine. It isn’t, however, the waiting itself that is a negative experience. At least, it isn’t meant to be. Our lack of clarity, answers, or even fulfilled desires should not keep us at a standstill—discontent, impatient, and frustrated. If anything, periods of unknown should sharpen us. Mold us. Grow us.
How I’m waiting changes things. What would it look like if I waited passionately? What would it look like if I thought more about the things in front of me instead of the things I don’t have?
So often, life is just a big waiting game. But I am beginning to realize that it can be a fun one, if you just play along.