I don’t like waiting. In fact, I don’t think very many of do considering our age of instant gratification and Google.
We like immediate action. We love responding in the moment. In our fast-paced culture, there is no time to wait for anything.
But sometimes, when we act fast on matters, we end up cleaning bigger messes than the ones we started with.
For instance, there was a time in high school where I got mad at my mom and step-dad for cutting off my phone in middle of an important conversation. Instead of taking the time to cool down and see from their perspective, I acted in the moment. I marched down the steps and gave an embarrassing teenage temper tantrum, which unfortunately resulted in my car being taken away.
Teenagers aren’t the only ones to act fast. Sometimes, I still act on my impulse and emotions, taking what I feel in the moment as the ultimate truth to act on. Though I am much better at controlling my impulse, I still struggle.
Yet here’s the problem you and me face: our culture loves impulse.
Our economy turns on impulse buying and marketing to our fleeting emotions. It pushes us to take immediate action.
And sometimes, I feel that this encouraging of immediate action filters into all aspects of our life.
We act fast when we get angry. When we get upset, we show it in the moment. When our boss angers us, we get angry right back. Immediate action doesn’t only apply to our spending; our culture loves immediacy in all aspects of life.
So here is what I try to practice: waiting.
Waiting to take action helps me take better action. It gives me the perspective to solve the problem in a better, more constructive way.
I learned this from Jesus. I love that Jesus waits where He is for two days before He goes to heal Lazarus in the story of John. At first, I admit, it sounded a bit jerky—like telling a friend you’re going to say bye to him on his deathbed, but then arriving two days late on purpose, after he dies. No one does that. When you find out your friend is dying, you leave immediately.
So often, we think our lack of immediate attention to a problem signifies our apathy toward it. But sometimes, delay is exactly what we need to better address the problem.
I thought Jesus didn’t care about the problem, but He does venture back to solve it. He just needed some time. It was in allowing some time to pass that He was better able to address the problem, and solve it in a way that glorified God.
Here’s what I suggest we do when we have problems that need solving: we wait first. When our boss is bothering us, before we blow up in his face, we wait. When our friend speaks of his or her relationship problems, wait, and then act. If you feel the urge to buy a cool knickknack, wait to reflect on whether you need it.
You can’t wait for every problem. Some problems need an immediate solution. But my point is, every problem doesn’t need an immediate solution. You can wait on things, and as a result, reap the better solution.
Take time to breathe, give yourself some healthy space and distance, and then take action. Most problems can wait.
Do you struggle with the discipline of waiting? Talk about it in the comments section!
Photography by Joshua Earle
If you liked this article, check out: