Who has time for waiting?

Three years ago, somewhere between the candle of hope and the candle of peace, the year I decided to blog my way through advent, my grandfather died. I remember so clearly how the grief mixed with the cheer, how the ashes mixed with the tinsel, and I remember what my friend told me as she was leaving my house and I was packing to go be with my grandmother.

“I hope you have time to grieve.”

With babies and finals and Christian finishing papers that year, there wasn’t a lot of space for me to grieve. My kids aren’t in diapers and my husband has only the dissertation deadlines and still I am longing for space to grieve in my life.

Thursday on my way from one appointment to the next I ran into the coffee shop to grab a bagel. One of my pastors was sitting at a table. He asked me how I was and he meant it. I immediately started crying.

How am I? I am tired. I am sad. I am confused. I am waiting.

I was angry the first two days of advent, just weirdly irrationally angry. I couldn’t quite figure out why, and then it hit me. The waiting.

I don’t know that I need to make space for the waiting, I am already right in the middle of it. I am waiting to finish my last year of teaching, I am waiting to see where we might be living next year, I am waiting for long held hard worked for dreams. I am waiting.

But also, I am not. I am running. I am doing. I am trying. But I am not really leaning into the waiting. I have sort of been avoiding it, like the mess in the back seat of my car. I mean, I know it is there but I don’t really deal with it. I guess I am hoping that the waiting will also take care of itself.

The waiting is such a strange mix, of grieving what will be or is no longer, the hope that something better will come, the realization that the future may not look like I imagine, the fear.

With kids and work and commuting, with dinner on the table and laundry to fold, with papers to grade and students to cajole into doing their make up work, who has time for grieving? Who has time to wait?

Why would I sit in silence when I could endlessly google possible houses in every city we have ever thought about living in?

Because I need it, this waiting, this grieving, this longing. Because the only way to not let the darkness over take you is to sit with it. Listen to it. I need the silence because the shouting I have tried isn’t working. I need to grieve so that I can make room for the joy.

I need to light the candle in the darkness, so I can see for myself how much real hope can really fill up a room if I let it.

I don’t want advent this year, I am already tired, and weary, and waiting. I don’t want advent, but I desperately need it. So I lock myself in my car during lunch, read the scriptures and breathe. I light the candle after bedtime and think about the promises in the kids book we read, how God is with you and you don’t have to be afraid are true for me too. I breathe slowly, I cry quietly, and I make room in my life for the waiting, five minutes at a time.

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8 thoughts on “Who has time for waiting?

  1. I both love and hate this post. I love it because it’s such a precise echo of how terrible it is to just try to put my head down and rocket my way through this first holiday season without my Dad and I hate it because now I’m trying not to sniffle at work.

    Thanks for this. Sometimes there’s help to be felt just in knowing someone else got through it, too.

  2. Abby well done for writing this. In my own experience of waiting I am finding that one of the most important things is to know that it’s ok to talk about all the feelings and the difficulties and the pain of the waiting. Somehow I find that once I’ve done that I’m already leaning in a bit more. Hope can fill the room. But we really do have to wait for that to happen – it’s not instantaneous, nor does it stay without a constant re-awaiting. hang in there lady.

  3. Girl, this hit right at home (since my own grandfather just died and I’m exhausted and tired of traveling and have zero space for anything even resembling grief or waiting) Love you! see you tomorrow?

  4. You hit a raw nerve with this post – waiting…. I have been waiting for a while now and my “action girl” is straining and just want to break loose and “do something, anything but waiting”!! Thank you for sharing – I am touched.

  5. I so appreciate your honesty. Sometimes, all I can muster is just a shout-out to God: make me want to spend more time with you. Help me to grow in my desire to come into your presence. I am waiting, sometimes, to simply be whole enough to wait in expectation.

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