The old adage is to never pray for patience.
Believe me, I would never do that.
Because I hate waiting. When I have decided what is next, I am ready for it, NOW.
I’m not a fan of delayed gratification. I have no skills in this area.
I admit all of this as a confession of sin. I do not see my impatience as a virtue.
But I have been waiting a lot lately, it seems. From late planes to injured knees. Lots of waiting.
This morning, I am in sweats, my hair a mess, while a very nice plumber hauls out my old hot water heater and gets ready to replace it with a new one. Waiting to shower, waiting for water. (First World problems, I know). Thankful to have a home, to have resources to maintain it, to have clean water and all that. But this morning I am waiting.
Some of my waiting hasn’t been as easily solved as calling a plumber.
I tore my meniscus about 6 weeks ago–maybe xc skiing? Maybe running? Don’t know. Woke up one morning with a swollen knee. Took me a month of waiting to see a doctor. Now I’m waiting for surgery next week. It appears my running career is at an end. I’m feeling remarkably philosophical about that. Maybe the grief will come later. I just want to move on. (Done waiting in this injured space!)
But it was the report from the MRI that caused the stressful waiting. The radiologist noted “red marrow reconversion” was present in my knee. Sports med doc didn’t really know what that was. Rather than just waiting for my doctor husband to get home from work and explain it to me, I went to Dr. Google, who managed to convince me, in a matter of seconds, that I was likely dying from leukemia.
Because the waiting that commenced once I had read that scary news was no fun at all. I went in the next day and had some blood drawn. Turns out it is all fine. My blood is gorgeous (or something medical like that). And the surgeon says they see it all the time and it isn’t a thing at all.
But the waiting to hear the “all clear” news was difficult. I’ve sat with people waiting for news too. I’ve been present with them in that dark space. And I tried to give myself the counsel I would offer them. Know that God is with you in this time too. You aren’t alone in the waiting. Don’t go to worst possible scenario right now. If it happens, there will be plenty of time to get there. etc. Didn’t hear it well from myself, but I am thankful to have friends who offered me the waiting speech. Sometimes you need to hear it from someone else.
And while part of me wanted to circle the wagons and keep total silence on this, I’m glad I turned to friends to make them wait with me. I’m glad to do that for my own friends. Why was I so hesitant to ask that of them?
I turned to scripture in my waiting too.
Isaiah 40: 27-31
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God’?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
God does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
The Lord gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
This passage is a favorite with runners, even if never in my life have I run without getting weary…. But I do like the reminder that waiting for the Lord is a better alternative to waiting for my own genius to kick in. There isn’t much I can do, any of us can do, to change outcomes while we wait. If a lifetime of eating Kale would have changed our diagnosis, it is likely too late to do much about that by the time we’re waiting for the doctor’s call. Yes, we can remain calm. We can have a positive outlook. We can not give in to despair. But we can’t magically regenerate cartilage in the knee.
But waiting on the Lord can feel lonely and long and slow. The psalms counsel me to wait for the Lord too. I often turn to Psalm 139. There is comfort in the reminder that in the vastness of the universe, the creator knows me in the smallest detail, even my poorly behaved meniscus.
I don’t want my waiting to be whining. You can find that in the Psalms too. Like Psalm 13.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
I don’t want to be the person crying out to God, “will you forget me, forever?”.
I recognize I know nothing about waiting. Even through this red matter reconversion business.
(Wait? How did Star Trek end up in my medical diagnosis? Good thing I’m not a doctor.)
As I said, even while waiting for the red marrow reconversion news to be explained, I recognize there are people for whom waiting has terrible conclusions. I know I am writing about this from a place of privilege and relative comfort, dealing with minor inconvenience. (Update–new water heater is being wrangled into its spot in the basement as I type–there will be a shower today!)
But still I wait.
I prepare for surgery next week and rearrange soccer carpool duty. I wait to discover how my knee will do after surgery. I wait to discover if the arthritis in the knee really as bad as the MRI suggested? I wait for hot water. I wait for insight and understanding in the midst of it all.
I also wait for good things. Warmer weather. Summer vacations. Fresh vegetables from (other people’s) gardens. Idaho Shakespeare’s new season.
For what are you waiting?
Do you tend to wait on your own? Or are you good about inviting others into that waiting space with you?
What have you learned during your waiting times?
Thanks for entertaining me while I have been waiting on the plumber. Peace.