When Waiting Is Quiet


when waiting is quiet

I’m sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, magazine in hand. The room is filled with people, but they’re unnaturally quiet—so quiet I can hear the clock on the wall marking lost time…all the wasted life I’ll never get back because I spent it breathing stale air in this crowded room.

I flip a page and stifle a snort: another celebrity has lost all her pregnancy weight in three days, and if I’ll only hire myself a personal chef who serves me a delicious diet of kale, chia seeds, and fresh fish imported by helicopter from Siberia and then boiled in colostrum and coconut water, I too can sport a postpartum six-pack. For the hundredth time, I wish I’d thought ahead and brought my computer—or at least a good book.

A nurse opens the swinging door with a whoosh, and everyone in the room looks up expectantly. I think I see a lady near the door slipping a fiver into the nurse’s hand, as if she can bribe her way to the top of the list.

“Mrs. Smith?” calls the nurse. Everyone not named Mrs. Smith heaves a despairing sigh. Mrs. Smith leaps up with a grin so broad you’d think she’d just been named the next contestant on “The Price Is Right.” (You know you’ve been waiting forever when going in to face the gynecologist with all her evil torture devices feels like an improvement on your situation.) I can’t decide if I want to offer Mrs. Smith a congratulatory high-five or shoot her an envious glare. The room falls silent. I go back to my magazine and mind-numbing stagnation.

Some waiting seasons are active, jerking us up and down and all around, keeping us guessing, dragging us through wild detours that may be insane but at least keep life exciting. As we wait for The Thing we want, we may be terrified out of our minds, wondering what twist awaits around the next curve, but at least we’re moving; at least we’re doing something!

But then you have the other kind of waiting season: The quiet kind. The monotonous kind. The boring kind. The kind when we’re stuck in life’s waiting room, in between phases, where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes. Life feels useless, meaningless, a song stuck on repeat. Every day the same: Same old classes, same old job, same old apartment. How we wish things would change, how we long for the next thing—The Thing we are convinced we cannot be happy without…but The Thing won’t come. Life won’t change.

How to wait on God via @lizzylit

In times like this, we face a choice: We can either sit there filling our time with empty, brainless things—reading magazines about other people’s lives, scrolling through Instagram pictures of everyone else’s Big Exciting Adventures… or we can fill our own time in meaningful ways. We can find ways to use the “down time,” the life in-between, with purpose. But how do we do that? Find purpose in pauses?

We don’t often think of Him this way, but Jesus was no stranger to waiting. In a way, He spent His whole life waiting: Waiting for the cross, the day of suffering that haunted his future like a daily shadow. Waiting to be set free from this broken world and His soon-to-be broken body. Waiting to return home to heaven and be reunited with His Father.

How did Jesus fill His waiting days? Not worrying about Himself or His own needs—no, He filled His days with service. With love. With constant communion with the Father He missed. We too can fill our in-between days by walking in His ways. By finding people to serve, needs to meet, ways to give.

In Luke 9:23–24 Jesus tells us, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (NLT). It’s not easy, but selflessness is the way of Christ. The way of purpose and meaning. Selfishness leads only to frustration and discontentment.

Let’s find people to serve, needs to meet and ways to give, even while we wait. If we reach out to comfort or befriend, to serve or to save even one soul while we’re waiting, this time is not lost. Waiting time need not be wasted life. We can redeem waiting times by giving them to God, so that when our name is finally called and our time in the waiting room is over (hallelujah), we can dance out of the waiting room feeling great about how we spent our time there. We might even high-five a few new friends on the way out.

**For one week only, you can download a FREE COPY of my new book, When God Says “Wait,” from Book Bub! Don’t wait…this deal ends soooooooon! Click here to get your free copy. **


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When Waiting Is Terrifying

When Your Life Feels Wasted

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My new Instagram account, where I post lots of thoughts about waiting on God!

My new book, When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind


When Waiting Is Terrifying


how to wait on God

When I was seven, I rode Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain at Disney World, got terrified out of my Jams and jelly shoes… and that was it. (Jams and jelly shoes—anyone else wear those? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) From then on, I swore off roller coasters. I successfully avoided the rattling death traps for years, too chicken even to get in line. But the summer I turned sixteen, I got roped into going to Six Flags with a group of friends.

For the first hour or so, I held my ground: I wasn’t there for the roller coasters; I was just there for my friends. I paired up with Geoff, the other kid in our group who was too afraid to ride, and we wandered around the park together. (It occurs to me now that it’s possible Geoff was just pretending to be scared to make me feel less like a loser and to make sure I didn’t spend the day alone…if so, thanks, Geoff. Seriously.)

Meanwhile, the rest of our group tore across the park together, laughing and giddy, seeking adventure. Geoff and I ate some junk food. Talked about Nirvana and the Cranberries. Watched other people line up for rides. Listened to the whoosh of the coasters, the screams of the riders. Studied people when they stumbled off, high-fiving and grinning, weak-kneed and windblown, but not dead. After a while, Geoff and I turned to each other and said, “We’re being lame. We have to at least try one ride. If we hate it, we don’t have to do it again. (Assuming we survive, that is…but let’s not think about that.)”

how to wait on God

So we picked the mildest ride we could find, got in line behind a bunch of six-year-olds, and bit our nails down to the quick while we waited. We chose seats somewhere in the middle of the coaster, where it was supposed to be the least scary, and talked each other out of wimping out at the last minute. When the ride jolted us forward, I shut my eyes and gripped the bar so hard my fingers locked up. My insides turned to ice. As we tipped back and ratcheted sloooooooooowly up that first high-as-Mount-Everest incline, I screamed until my vocal chords shredded to bits, took a breath, and then I screamed some more.

We reached the top of the first hill. Time stopped. My heart tried to rocket out of my chest. We started free-falling. My stomach plummeted into my toes; my bladder threatened revolt. I shut my eyes and curled up tight inside myself until I could hardly feel the wind tearing at my face. All I could think was, Please don’t let me die please don’t let me die please don’t let me die. 

At last the ride screeched to a halt. I took three seconds to make sure all my body parts were still attached and (most importantly) to make sure my pants were still dry. My vocal chords were destroyed and my fingers seemed permanently glued to the railing, but besides that, I was intact and unharmed. And then, as if I had stepped outside my own body, I watched my head turn to Geoff and listened to my own raspy voice squeak, “That was THE BEST THING EVER! Let’s do it again!”

Geoff nodded eager agreement, his wide eyes mirroring my I’m-terrified-but-still-totally-exhilarated expression. Turns out, we’d both had the time of our lives…but we hadn’t been able to register the joy of the experience until the ride had ended.

Off we sprinted to the next coaster, a scarier one. We had both squandered that first ride, just praying to survive, but we didn’t waste the next one. As the day wore on, we got bolder.  I started opening my eyes—just a crack at first, a little timid peep—until eventually, I opened my eyes all the way, almost the whole time. Geoff was the first to let go of the rail and wiggle a few fingers in the air on the way up the inclines. After a few more rides, I threw my hands up and surrendered to the stomach-lurching, bone-rattling thrill. By day’s end Geoff and I had conquered every terrifying ride Six Flags had to offer. We were full-fledged adrenaline junkies.

Sometimes waiting feels motionless, but other times it’s a roller coaster. It hurtles us up and down and all around—from uncertainty to terror to euphoria—till our emotions show signs of whiplash. We’re getting what we want—just kidding, not getting what we want; The Thing is finally happening—nope, not happening at all; God is saying yes—just kidding, He’s saying no—or maybe He’s saying wait—uh, we have no idea what God is saying… But guess what? We get to choose how we ride out our waiting seasons: Will we sit with our eyes shut, teeth clenched, fists tight on the rail, completely missing out, just whispering, “Tell me when it’s over”? Or will we open our eyes and let the ride take us where it will (where God wills), determined to find joy in the twists and turns, to experience exhilaration in the unknown?

No, it won’t be fun the whole time. It won’t always be peaceful or happy. We’ll have moments when we’ll wish God had buckled us into a different ride. But if we’ll learn to embrace the experience, it will be an adventure. A story—our life story. A life we do not waste. A life we live in the moment, every day—not just in hindsight, when we know how it all turned out. A life we live to the full, without fear: eyes open, heart unguarded, hands raised to heaven.

God’s way is perfect.
    All the Lord’s promises prove true.
    He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord?
    Who but our God is a solid rock?
 God arms me with strength,
    and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    enabling me to stand on mountain heights…
You have made a wide path for my feet
    to keep them from slipping. –Psalm 18:30–33, 36 NLT


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My new book, When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

 

 

 

           

 


When There’s Beauty in Waiting


Finding beauty in suffering

This was the view through my windshield the other day as I was waiting in traffic, stuck sitting through many cycles of the same traffic light. I’d been sitting there, frustrated and bored, wishing I was somewhere else—anywhere else—but then I looked up. For the rest of the wait, I sat, awestruck, and watched Him put on a show. If I hadn’t been stuck waiting, I would have missed it—but waiting gave me the opportunity to sit and revel in God’s power and artistry.

Waiting can be a bleak and painful time, but life is still beautiful—God is still doing great things for us—if only we will look up. We may find beauty in relationships, in unexpected kindness, in spiritual growth we didn’t see coming.

When I was waiting for true love, I found greater joy and intimacy in my walk with God, in learning to rely on Him for daily comfort and strength.

When I was waiting to get pregnant, God surprised me with new friendships that gave me the hope and comfort I needed to survive the struggle.

I didn’t yet have the things I was praying for, but God gave beautiful gifts along the way, unexpected blessings that eased the pain and lent joy to the journey.

Even now, as I wait on several Big Life Things, God is teaching me perseverance, humility, compassion. Showing me how to find joy in small things. Showing me that beauty is everywhere, even when we are waiting…we only have to look up.

I recently shared this story on Facebook Live, a.k.a. Lizzy Life Live! In the same chat, we talked about practical tips for having heart-to-heart talks with kids at all their different ages and stages. How do we draw quiet kids out? How do we connect on a heart level? How do we bring God into our daily conversations? You can watch the recording here

Finding beauty in waiting seasons and having heart-to-heart talks with our kids!

Nai-post ni Elizabeth Laing Thompson, Writer at LizzyLife noong Miyerkules, Marso 29, 2017

This post is expanded from my new Instagram account, @elizabethlaingthompson, where I am posting scriptures, encouragement, and humorous thoughts to help you through your waiting journey. I’d love to see you on Instagram!


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My new book, When God Says “Wait”

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Your Life Feels Wasted

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When Life Poops on Your Party

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When Your Life Feels Wasted


When Your Life Feels Wasted

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

My mom has this funny prayer she prays whenever she comes for one of her always-too-short visits: “God, please make this visit feel like a long time.” At first I laughed—my delightful mom has the most faithful prayer life, and she prays about everything—but then I was like, “Oh, why not?”—and I started borrowing her prayer.

But you know what I’ve found? There’s something to Mom’s crazy prayer. Whenever we pray those words, time somehow moves a bit slower. Her visit, however short, feels long enough. Even if we only have hours together—a layover between flights—every minute feels fulfilling. Meaningful. Rich. When she leaves we may cry, but still we feel satisfied, knowing we made the most of what time we had. In the mysterious ways of God, he helps us stop and savor and be fully present in our fleeting, priceless moments together.

How to pray when life is delayed

Sometimes we want time to slow down . . . but when we’re waiting, we want it to speed up and slow down at the same time. We want the wait to be over now, with no more time lost. We feel this pressure most acutely when we’re in the middle of one of those life-altering waits: The wait for a husband. For a baby. For a healing. Tick, tick goes the clock; flip, flip goes the calendar page—and you’re still stuck.

You feel your twenties passing you by, and you’re still single…

You’re well into your thirties, and you fear your biological clock will expire before you get to have a family

Your forties are flying, and you’re still sick or depressed—not quite yourself—unable to fully live the life you have…

Your fifties are coming to a close, but still your adult child wanders . . .

And if you’re like me—always watching the clock, painfully conscious of life’s brevity—you can start to get paranoid: My life is wasting away. I’ll never get back this time. These are lost years.

Slow down time

But guess what? God is more powerful than time. Listen to this beautiful prayer:

“Relent, Lord! How long will it be?

Have compassion on your servants.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,

    for as many years as we have seen trouble.

Psalm 90:14–16 (emphasis added)

Do you get what the writer is saying here? He’s asking God to redeem lost time. To make up for lost years—to make Israel glad for as many days, as many years, as they have suffered.

Who wrote this prayer? Moses—Moses who spent forty years wandering in the desert, waiting for the Promised Land. Moses understood the pain of lost life and wasted years better than anyone. And yet he saw that God could still redeem that time, those desert years. In Moses’ eyes, it wasn’t too late. All was not lost. He knew the power of God—God who rained plagues and parted seas, God who appeared in cloud by day and fire by night, God who dwelled on the holy mountain. God could transcend time. God could make up lost years. God could make His people glad, so glad they couldn’t help but sing, for as many years as they had suffered.

We see God do this often in the Bible, showering suffering people with later-life blessings: Joseph. Naomi. Job.

I have seen God do this in my own life more times than I can count. After a tumultuous time in our church life, God provided a way for me and my husband to live in the same town as both our parents—we had never believed it possible, but we got to share eight happy years with both our families. We felt as though God went out of his way to comfort us after a time of trial.

After two years and nine months of infertility, God gave us three babies in…wait for it…two years and ten months. I can hardly see my computer screen for the tears filling my eyes—tears of gratitude, wonder, awe. It’s been eleven years, but still the joy of this blessing staggers me. Even now I ask God, “Why us, when so many others are still waiting?” I can’t answer that question, but I celebrate his gift even as I pray for others still awaiting theirs.

If you’re stuck on pause, mourning a delay, borrow Moses’ prayer. Remind God of the pain you feel watching time pass you by, and ask him to redeem the lost days. Ask him to restore joy. To make you glad for as many days—as many years—as you have suffered. I don’t know when or how God will answer your prayer, but I know he is listening. He is listening, he is concerned, and he is able.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

My new book, When God Says “Wait”

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear

When Life Poops on Your Party

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

My friend Maria’s story: Choosing Peace Through Unexpected Trials


Share this post with a friend: 


When God Says “Wait” Is Now Available! Gratitude! Links! Free Stuff!


Fourteen years is a long time to wait.

When God Says “Wait” hits bookstore shelves today! (Here’s where I stop typing and indulge in an embarrassing jig that can only be described as “Riverdance meets Rhythm Nation, but without the rhythm.”) I am SO EXCITED, but wow, what a long journey it’s been.

Fourteen years ago, a vicious case of jet lag kept me up all night and gave me a strange gift: an idea for a story I had to tell about characters I met that night, but felt I’d known always. By the time sunrise set the Atlanta skyline ablaze, I had penned the first two chapters of a novel and outlined the entire plot. By the time my fellow Atlantans were stumbling to their coffee makers, my career path had changed; life had changed. I was going to become a writer.

If you had told me that night that I would spend the next fourteen years pursuing that crazy dream (and seriously, writing is a crazy dream), I don’t know what I would have done. I suspect a truckload of chocolate would have been involved.

In the past fourteen years, I have written more hours than I could count (I suspect the hours actually add up to years of life at this point). Spent thousands of dollars on coffee and conferences. Run over one laptop with my car. (ACCIDENT. Seriously. I can explain.) Worked another laptop so hard it finally just choked and died.

Along the way I have indie published two books, The Thirteenth Summer and The Tender Years: Parenting Preschoolers (coauthored with my wonderful mom, Geri), and those valuable experiences taught me so much about hard work and the joy of simply sharing words, and life, with readers.

Meanwhile, after an agonizing struggle with infertility, Kevin and I had three kids in less than three years and lived to tell the tale. (The tale involved more poop and vomit than one sentence can describe, but even so, it was a life worth living. A tale (mostly) worth telling.) After a while we had a fourth child, because hey—what’s one more?!

Along the way I have discovered that my husband is THE BEST HUSBAND IN THE UNIVERSE. I always knew that, but now I know it more. He loves all of my work—even the stories aimed at twelve-year-olds. He has always taken this writing thing seriously, long before anyone besides him was ever reading my words. He generously gives me writing time. He sends me to conferences and views every dollar spent as investment, not expense. He tolerates my coffee habit, having accepted that creativity requires caffeine (and occasionally champagne). He doesn’t get hurt feelings when I trail off mid-sentence, lost in a sudden plot-twist revelation. When I get manic, he takes away my coffee and makes me take naps. And all the while, he’s just so daggum cute and funny and faithful.

Along the way I have found the greatest BFF-slash-writing-partner any writer could have, who knows what I want to say and how I want to say it better than I do; whose soul-stirring writing takes my breath away.

When God Says Wait in Barnes & Noble

This is my writing partner, Emma, in Barnes & Noble yesterday, with copies of my book! This is the same B & N where we met and have shared countless happy writing hours! Also, I helped her pick those fabulous boots. 🙂

In the past two years I have discovered the joy of connecting with people through words and scripture and silly stories right here on Lizzy Life. I cannot describe the joy this community has brought me. How I have loved sharing life with you here—giving you glimpses into our wacky world and hearing how our stories intersect with yours. You have helped me not write alone, not learn alone, not live alone.

Along the way I have found joy in writing with God. I cannot describe the intensely intimate and transcendent spiritual experience it was to write When God Says “Wait” with God. Every day writing was a day spent in constant communion with Him. Every day I prayed, “Fill me up and empty me out.” Every day, mystical as it sounds, He whispered words.

Along the way I have had the privilege to work with godly people whose courage, excellence, and giftedness blows my mind: my agent-slash-book-warrior Jessica Kirkland, who fights on no matter the odds. The entire team at Barbour: Kelly McIntosh, who is ever encouraging; Shalyn Sattler, whose heart and talent echo through every email; Mary Burns, who laughed and plotted with me and Shalyn and helped make marketing fun; Liesl Davenport, whose gifts for detail and design had me nearly weeping with gratitude; Laura Weller, copyeditor and comma-wrangler extraordinaire; Ashley Schrock, who designed the brilliant book cover; Jeane Wynne, publicist, cheerleader, and inspiring go-getter; my book launch team, who have made the “preseason” of the book launch such a joy with their enthusiasm and generosity.

Amazing friends have taken time out of their insanely busy lives to read and endorse the book—their generosity with their time and words has meant the world: longtime friends Chip and Pauli Wade, who we met when we were newlyweds and they were both cheerleaders at Georgia Tech; now they serve God in multiple capacities, as talented designers and HGTV stars; Lara Casey Isaacson, a writer friend whose ministry, example, and transparency are inspiring; Andy Lee, a local writer friend whose book, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called is a beautiful blend of Bible and storytelling; beloved friend Laura Whitaker, who has shared so many waiting seasons with me, and whose work with individuals with special needs is heroic; and devoted friend Marilisa Schachinger, who has also shared my waiting seasons (she was even brave enough to babysit the three-under-three, way back in the day!), and now honors God with her work as a business owner and entrepreneur.

And then there are our parents, Sam and Geri and Bill and Glenda, and our delightfully quirky family members, who have not just tolerated, but supported and encouraged, from the beginning. They have fasted, prayed, babysat, read drafts, given ideas, and picked me up off the floor a thousand times over. My sister Alexandra was enduring a horrific waiting season of her own the entire time I was writing, and her struggle inspired and guided me as I wrote—her spirit, too, is on every page. I could go on for pages about every single family member, but I am every day thankful for every one of them.

And my fiercely loyal friends, who have prayed with me and chosen to walk this journey with me even when the whole process was just so weird and confusing, and they secretly thought I was nuts (and of course they were right). Every girl should be so lucky to have such friends.

And my church family, who have prayed and listened and cheered me on for years, who have not made comments when I showed up to midweek wearing sweatpants, a hat, and crazy eyes. (Sorry about that.) They even let me share their poignant waiting stories in the book.

Much as it pains me and humbles me to say it—this is me, eating my words; Father, are you reading this?—these past fourteen years have taught me the value in waiting. I have seen that good things—maybe even the best things—truly come to those who wait.

The victory is all the sweeter for taking so long. The joy all the richer for following so much rejection, heartache, and doubt. The satisfaction all the more meaningful because it has been shared by so many—and it would not have been shared so meaningfully had it not taken so long. I recognize that; I celebrate what unparalleled joy it is to share joy. The thousands of prayers others have willingly offered on my behalf are staggering. Humbling. Overwhelming. I owe a prayer debt I could never repay.

Above all, I am so grateful to God for allowing me to write this book with Him and for Him. It’s all for you, God… do with it as you will.

Want to download two free chapters of the book? Here’s a link!

Want to check out the book trailer, starring my beautiful friends, and put together by my brilliant brother-in-law? Here it is!

Want to order the book? It’s available anywhere books are sold: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, even in your local Lifeway. I’d love to hear what you think when you’re through—I deeply appreciate every response, every story, every word you send my way. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

-xoxo, Elizabeth


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

When Being a Grown-Up Means You’re Still Growing Up


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