Starbucks and I go way back. I’ve been a “gold card” member since 2011 – even before they had the Starbucks app. I like ’em tall (size), hot (duh), and blonde (roast). I love smell of a Starbucks, the displays of bagged coffee beans and branded take-away tumblers (of which I have a few). I love perusing the case of tantalizing pastries and selection of new music CDs at the register. I love it when the barista (or baristo) of the Starbucks I frequent remembers my order.
You know what I don’t like about Starbucks? Waiting.
Since I’m not alone in feeding my caffeine addiction, there are often lines at Starbucks. Lines of people who don’t know the difference between a latte and a macchiato (a big difference, Pal!). People who order the liquified deserts known as frappuccinos that contain only just enough coffee to deserve to be served from a coffee shop rather than a Dairy Queen – and yet some how require a bazillion words to describe the order (double-tall, with whip, skin-vanilla, oreo, crack cocaine, kitchen sink and pantry frappuccin0!!). People who pay with cash or card instead of the app when they have a smart phone on them. So many people.
And even when there aren’t lines in the afternoons, not every Starbucks location has my beloved blonde roast brewed after 10 a.m. So I have to wait for a pour-over.
The pour-over may actually be the best cup of coffee, and it may actually be the most efficient too. But it feels like forever from the time they say “pour-over” and I nod with grim resolve in my doomed future of waiting, to the time when I take my first sip of the deep brown miracle that is coffee. FOR-E-VER.
I hate waiting.
I hate it more than I love Starbucks. That’s how much I hate waiting.
I hate waiting for things to go on sale: you know it will eventually, but you have to wait for months ’til the blasted retail stickers change. But I do it anyway.
I hate waiting in traffic. But I do it any way (don’t we all).
I hate waiting for new seasons to come out on Netflix: I’m looking at you SCANDAL and Grey’s Anatomy! But I do it anyway.
I hate waiting for the A3 elevator in my office building: it deliberately goes slower when it knows I’m in a hurry. But I do it any way.
Anticipation does nothing for me. Patience is not one of my virtues. And given the choice, I will always be the early bird who gets the worm! I hate waiting.
And yet – I get “Wait.” as a response to so many of my prayers.
One of the hardest parts of being a go-getter, who is also a faithful Christian, is being faithful in God’s timing. God’s timing is not ours. When you have the mentality that you either “make things happen” or they don’t happen at all, waiting is often one of the most strenuous challenges to your faith.
When God answers, “wait,” there are few things I’ve learned:
- “Wait,” does not mean “no.” It just means “not yet.”
This should be reassuring. But it’s also hard to hear. However much hope it gives you to know that something will happen … eventually, there’s a certain amount of hurt to know you can’t have it yet.
- It can some times mean, “you’re not ready.”
This is annoying. But also, it’s often true. When I think about what life would be like if My Perfect Plan worked out nearly 7 years ago, it’s hard to picture myself in that change. My Perfect Plan was that both Mt. Man and I would work, and we’d live on his income while we paid off student loans with mine. It would take us four years, and then in another year, we’d have a house. Pretty perfect, huh? But I don’t think I’d be as receptive to change, and adaptable as I’ve become if everything worked out when I wanted it to. I don’t think I’d appreciate just how much work has gone into the life we’ve made together. I don’t think I’d still have the drive to be better and do more if everything had worked out as planned.
I don’t think I was ready for the responsibility of having more freedom to do what I want. Because I didn’t know just how much it takes.
- You don’t have to like it.
I still don’t like it.
- But it would serve you better to realize that you should use the time wisely instead of being upset about waiting.
If you squint really hard, you can kinda, sorta, maybe see that waiting is a gift. As slowly as the second hand ticks around the clock when you’re waiting for something, each “tick, tick, tick” is a chance for action, or to breathe, or to pray, or even just to check Instagram.
Learning how to savor the moment is something I’ve learned from waiting. The other day, Mt. Man and I got some news that made it look like our waiting might just be over soon. Instead of becoming more impatient for that event, I took Mt. Man’s face in my hands, looked him in the eye and said, “Right this second, life is good. Let’s savor it.” It may have been annoying to him and silly to others, but after years of waiting, you learn to appreciate pieces of the time in between.
- There is a reason for it.
It might be the lesson you’re supposed to learn, or the the gift of the time it takes to get you there. It might be that whatever you’re waiting for requires someone else to catch up, and they needed the time before your paths converge. It might be that God felt like making you wait for no good reason, though I think that’s pretty unlikely. But I choose to find comfort and a little reassurance that waiting is often required for a reason.
And yet – there is deep joy and satisfaction when waiting is over. And in my case today, there is overwhelming awe and gratitude too!
This week, is the first time in nearly seven years of marriage that both Mt. Man and I are fully employed. He started work this week after years of being underemployed, in grad school and the dreaded “credentialing” process it has taken to get him to realizing his goal of being a Physicians Assistant.
For years, we (and so many of our friends, family and fellow Christians) have prayed for this. It got so stressful waiting that for a while the past few months, every day I would pray that Mt. Man would get to start “tomorrow,” knowing full well that God would answer “ok,” whenever He knew it to be best.
Now, with the prayer answered, I try to reflect on how we’ve used the time. I hope we’ve used it wisely. I hope we’ve learned the lessons needed to prepare us for this new time. And, though I don’t know how much it’s worked, I hope it’s made me a bit more patient.