Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On waiting

Atticus, waiting for the fish to bite recently.

I am--finally--good at waiting. I know that some people aren't, but me? I'm no longer bothered by it. While the common view of waiting is something skin to "wasting time in between engagements," for me, waiting has become something else entirely. Waiting is a pause. Waiting is refreshment. Waiting is wading through the contents of my mind and heart and revisiting all the places I have been and hope to go. Waiting, it turns out, is good.

One thing that people ask me on a daily basis at this point is whether or not I am getting anxious to meet Seven. The truth? I'm not. Now don't take that to mean that I'm not looking forward to the day when I hold this little man or lady in my arms. It's not that at all. What it is, rather, is a contentment with the place where I find myself. Right now, today, as I sit here, I am--gloriously-- 35 weeks pregnant. That's 8.75 months into a pregnancy I never thought I'd experience. And while I am growing less comfortable as I try to find the perfect sleeping position at night, I am nowhere near feeling an urgency to leave this blessed time of being used to grow a baby behind me.

Here's the thing about waiting: it's as productive as you allow it to be. I have learned this the hard way, and I think that the weight of this lesson is what finally brought me to a place where I could sit and listen and watch grass grow without feeling the terrible guilt and frustration that inactivity often brings in its sidecars.

For years and years of my life, I hated waiting. While I was never one of the "gotta have it right now" crowd, I definitely leaned towards wanting my fulfillment on my time schedule. I remember when Jo was 14 months old and stuck in the middle of what seemed like an endless cycle of ear infections. During that season, it seemed like an interminable amount of life was wasted as I diligently administered almond oil, lavender oil, chamomile oil drops. When those failed to produce the desired result, I moved to antibiotics, analgesics, tympanograms. Anything that promised a cure was worth pursuing. Time was, after all, of the essence.

I waited and I waited for something to resolve. I hated every moment of it. It seemed like I did nothing but fret and rock my baby girl for years. In the end, that period of time was--ready for this? Six months. Yes, that's all. Six months. Clearly, it was not a purgatory without conclusion. But what it was, in truth, was wasted waiting.

Why? Because during that time, when I could have been wrapped up in making the most of the time with my only child, I couldn't take my eyes off of the end goal long enough to see the moment. While no parent wants their child to be in pain, let's be honest ... there are perks to having a little one who just wants to curl up in your lap and be loved on--especially when that child is your only one! But I was too determined to rush to the healing part to actually find some piece of joy in the moment I was given. I was thinking of the birthday parties we missed, the play dates we didn't make it to, the leaf-collecting walks that didn't happen. Because of that, I couldn't see the long hours spent reading, the shadow puppet sillies, the naps my baby girl took on my chest because she just needed me there.

I wasted my waiting. And therefore, I missed a gift.

I did this again after my devastating miscarriage in January of 2006. Unable to breathe, allow God to be God, and wait on His timing, I fixated on becoming pregnant again. The sad result? Reading my own blog posts from that season feels like peeking into someone else's life. Yes, my children grew. My husband loved me. Holidays happened. But again, the goal was the goal. Everything else was shunted aside in favor of getting to my end destination.

Do you know what ultimately brought me to the place where I could wait, and hope, and pray, and still get up in the morning ready to engage in the tasks that seemed fleeting and insignificant, but were destined to water my soul? Foster care and adoption.

Something about having no control, having no sense of permanence, being unable to wrestle situations to my desired outcome ... all of that taught me that waiting is life. Yes, you can rush forward to meet your dreams head-on. But you can also feel peace in the days that are marked with the mundane. You can find joy in the quiet. You can thrive in the desert where action and movement seem completely out of reach.

And in those places, truly, you can find the most blessing.

I do not worship pregnancy. I am not a woman who is not satisfied unless she has a baby growing under her shirt or a nursling riding on her back. I do not feel empty or unattractive or without purpose unless I can define myself by my role as a carrier of life. I do not give birth and immediately dream of doing it again and again.

But I am enjoying this pregnancy. I am waiting well, and feeling that the wait, really, is more a part of the process than most of us ever notice. I can feel discomfort and be amazed at the design of my body as it accommodates this feat that I see only God Himself could have dreamed up. I can be brought to tears by a hug from Jo as she rushes behind me at the washing machine and bursts, "I can't believe we're going to have a baby!" I can ride the waves of hormones and marvel at their purpose. I can catch the wonder in Atticus' eyes as he places his hand on my abdomen and waits for another round of hiccups from Seven. I can see my body becoming a foreign entity and almost stand back, taking in this event in slow motion that only God could have timed. I can delight in Mani repeating, "Baby. Baby. Be jennnnn-tullll!" as he points to my stomach, wide-eyed and clueless.

So, no, I am not ticking seconds off of the clock in anticipation of meeting Seven. I have made that mistake too many times before. Instead, I choose to be immersed here, now, in this moment. I choose to receive the blessing fully, to drink of this cup, to allow God to wash His goodness over me in His timing. I will wait--joyfully--and enjoy this brief moment.


Stephani said...

I'm 37 weeks on Thursday and I was going to email my friend so she could give me a patience pep talk, but this post will do! Thanks!

robyn L. said...

This post is perfect. I'm currently waiting for my baby girl to be able to come home from the NICU. (She was born six weeks early and has some digestive issues.) You have reminded me not to waste my waiting.

Allie said...

As we wait for our baby girl from Rwanda to come home, this post gives me new perspective. Thank you! I needed that.

Mama Squirrel said...

I like this post very much, and I've linked.

Laura O said...

It takes a while to learn HOW to wait. Being able to just 'be' and not have anxiety over the next thing coming definitely makes life more enjoyable.

Rebecca said...

I, too, am encouraged by your discussion on waiting, but it makes me wonder if there are two kinds of waiting - waiting with joy and hope (like waiting for the birth of a baby) and waiting with hope but in painful circumstances (like the ear infection which wouldn't end or waiting for Bee's visa to be approved). While pursuing the international adoption of our firstborn, we had no idea when the adoption would finally be complete, but we waited with hope. It was more difficult than waiting for our biological secondborn because there was no end in sight and our baby boy was waiting for us in another country and in someone else's arms for reasons God had ordained but we couldn't see or understand. Either way, we clung to Isaiah 64:4 throughout the adoption process: "From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you who acts for those who wait for him." In one type of waiting your heart is whole and in one type of waiting it is bleeding. Either type of waiting demands that we either choose to trust God or just "suffer through" the waiting time, not cherishing the good gifts God has for you in the desert. I am encouraged by your post to make the most of each day and be thankful to God in it, whether waiting or feasting on His goodness. I would be interested to hear what God is teaching you through waiting for Bee's visa. Thank you for being open that others may be strengthened in the Lord.

Guiding Light said...

Here on the blog walk...what a GREAT post! I can relate...on both sides. Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Mama Bee said...

This post was a blessing to me. Thank you!!

Marcy in NC said...

Love this post. I, too, am pregnant, quite unexpectedly, with no.7--of course that is IF the twins we are fostering will be cleared for adoption. We still have a lot of waiting to find out about that one, we've already been waiting about a year and a half. Feel like I could have written almost every word of this post (are you in a parallel universe?) So true about foster and adoption changing your perspective. Thanks for the reminder to enjoy every minute of this miracle pregnancy!
Marcy in NC

Berry Patch said...

This was a wonderful post and one I really needed to hear. I have such a hard time being patient and enjoying the waiting. I know this will resonate with me the next time I'm in a hurry. ;-)