You know what I really don't like? Waiting.
Even from an early age, waiting was excruciating for me. (Growing up my dad loved to sing me Tom Petty's "The waiting is the hardest part" in that little singsongy reminder tone that parents use.) I do not like waiting. Which is pretty hilarious when I look back at all the things God has had me wait for in my life. I thought I was a pretty good "wait-er" at this point. I had gritted my teeth and put my trust in the Lord before and waited for all the stages and chapters of life.
You know what I NEVER thought I'd wait through? A global pandemic.
At this point, when we look back to the beginning of March, we laugh at how we thought all we had to do was stay home for two weeks. "Two weeks?!" we thought, "with our kids and spouses all at home all the time? We just can't do it!"
Here we are four months later and still essentially under the same circumstances with no real "normal" insight. We are waiting to return to a normal that we had before and will not have again.
Waiting on schools. Waiting on a plan. Waiting on a vaccine. Waiting in line for Trader Joes. Waiting for 2021. It's just so much waiting that my weary heart feels like if I have to wait for one more thing it might just burst into a million fragments, surrendering to the countdown clocks that seem to tick forward instead of backward.
I use a breath prayer a lot during moments of stress or palpitation. As I pray through my waiting game this season, my new breath prayer has been (inhale) “Lord, give me strength (exhale) for one day at a time." One day at a time is really all we can plan for right now. And that is difficult if you’re a planner like me. But one day at a time has given me the freedom to not worry or think too far ahead and to focus on my people and that day.
My husband works long hours and before the pandemic, he would often be unable to be home when the kids ate dinner. He would probably make it once or twice a week for family dinner. Since March, we have eaten dinner together as a family probably six nights a week, accounting to roughly 126 dinners together. That's more than we'd get in a typical year! And that's not even considering all of the breakfasts and lunches we share together too.
Practicing gratitude at family dinner is just one example of how these times have made us better. As we eat, we take turns talking about our favorite part of the day. To hear my speech-delayed son begin to have a conversation with his father over dinner is just mind-blowing. What a gift.
I think this pandemic will change the hours and commutes people have in the future. The ability to step away from one's desk for twenty minutes to eat, only to walk down the hall to jump back on the computer for a few hours before bedtime duties is something I never thought possible for our situation until now.
I also have a newfound love of exercising as it was the only break I got at the beginning of social isolation times. And my 18-month old is rapidly learning new skills thanks to her big brother around all the time.
Our bodies are stronger; our minds are stronger, but what about our hearts?
As I lay my head on my pillow after what usually feels like another marathon sprint of a day, my heart still waits. And I have to release the expectation that I deserve to know when and how this will all end.
Psalm 27:14 says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!"
As we wait He will strengthen our hearts. Through this waiting, our hearts, I hope, will be more valiant, compassionate, and faithful. While we wait, let our hearts take courage and grow stronger.
Photo by Caroline Guinn Photography