The Unbearable Tension of Waiting


In American culture, we aren’t very patient.  We’ve become spoiled by easy access to entertainment and diversion through our smartphones and Netflix and technology within easy reach of us at all times.  We don’t like to be bored, and it’s quite easy to go through each day without having one second of downtime.  (I know this from experience).  Waiting for something seems like a foreign concept to us because we choose to numb out or not engage or feel when we’re faced with having to wait.  We can distract and consume more media to keep our minds off of what we feel.

And it makes sense that we’d want to avoid waiting.  Waiting is hard.

Waiting for the depression to lift.

Waiting as a single woman desperate to be noticed.

Waiting for our spouse to change, to love us more, to connect.

Waiting to feel joy.

Waiting for the anxiety to calm.

Waiting for God to speak, to comfort, to come through.

Waiting for the grief to subside.

Waiting for healing to come.

Waiting is heartbreaking.  We are desperate for the waiting to be over.  And that would feel good.  For a moment.  But what then?  Would we actually be satisfied?  Or would we rush so quickly past the receiving of the goodness that we miss the blessing of accepting the gift of the good thing we desire?  Are we constantly wanting more?

This heartbreak is a picture that our world is not what it was meant to be.  So why does God allow it to happen?  Pain is a necessary part of growth.  I have experienced the most significant periods of growth in my life when I have been the most frustrated by waiting.  I have had to learn patience, contentment, and joy in the present moment.

What would it look like to be content where we are, knowing it is nowhere near where we want to be?

How would it feel to find the joy and blessing in everyday moments without the expectation of receiving something different, something we judge to be better?

What does the Lord have to teach us in this waiting?  In the dry season?  In the winter of our lives?  When we suffer?

Every good story is driven by the tension of the waiting, of the pain, of the not yet getting the thing we desire.  Every film you’ve seen, every book you’ve read, each compelling plot is driven by the tension of the not-yet.  In some stories, even when the not-yet is reached, it is dissatisfying and disappointing.  Or perhaps it is not fully reached at all.

And the agony and beauty of the moment in that story when all seems lost, when the desired outcome seems so out of reach.  The exquisite pain of longing for the desire that we grasp for and yet it slips through our fingers.  This is the most poignant moment of the story, the pinnacle point where our emotions thrum at their highest note, where we connect most intimately with the pain.

It is the moment at which we feel most alive.

As you wrestle with the waiting, don’t become so consumed with the having of the thing that you miss the moments in the present that are passing by swiftly, such that we will never get them back.


Look outside.  Not just outside in nature, but outside of yourself.

See the beauty.


Drink it in.

Let it be slow.

Let yourself be unfinished and imperfect.

Don’t distract yourself or numb out from the pain.

Embrace the feeling of being fully human and in the middle of your story.


Perhaps you felt connected to the above words.  Are you in a season of waiting that feels interminable?  Are you struggling to deal with the corresponding pain?  Or perhaps you’ve shut down emotionally to avoid the pain of the wait.  At Restored Hope, I desire to walk alongside you as you cope with the pain of waiting.  I offer counseling services at my Ann Arbor location to give you the resources to cope with the pain.  Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here to hear more about how I can support you.