Monday, June 6, 2011

Wait Time

You know those people who check their emails before their feet hit the floor in the morning, then every few minutes throughout the day, if they don't have an alert to tell give them a news flash that a new message has arrived in their box?  Well, it probably won't surprise you to know that I am not one of those people.  I'm just not that plugged into to cyber-space.  Most days I reach for my Bible, glass of water, my watch and my glasses, in no particular order.  I was trained early to wear a watch and feel naked without it, no matter that my cell-phone could tell me the time if I thought to look at it.  And my glasses go without saying, though I look beneath them to read.  The water also goes without saying.  And my Bible is a habit of such long standing I can hardly remember not reading at least a verse before I leave my bed.

Except this morning.  Here's an admission.  I sat up in bed, pushed the dog off my space, took a drink of water, grabbed my watch and glasses and hurried out to my computer to see if my overseas daughter had checked in yet.  Now I've had a child overseas before, and have done exactly the same thing with them.  I like to think of myself as an easy-going mom who has untied the apron strings nicely.  Who's actually laid down the apron altogether (which they'd all agree given how off our dinners consist of 'foraging' around here!).  But the reality is, when my chicks are 'off-continent', and I'm unable to connect with get in touch with them, the computer is my lifeline.  We clearly didn't think ahead when we disconnected our landline because if something critical happens, how on earth will she get in touch with us?  That's what my mind was racing with as I lay in bed this morning.  Before I reached for my Bible.  Instead of reaching for it.  Getting up and reaching for this computer instead, where there is not yet a word from her.  She is, after all, at the end of a 29 hour travel day, the finale of which consisted of her driving for three hours on the opposite side of the road than she ever has before.  I'd be falling down like I was dead drunk if I had to go through that, even if I was young and healthy and strong and able.

But I feel a little more compassion for my mother who burst into tears when I finally called home (collect) a full six weeks into my trip to Europe.  My letters home (which were, admittedly, few and far between) had barely reached them yet, so she was certain something terrible must have happened to me. The world now can't quite imagine how different communication was then, how rare it was to call, even across a state, let alone across the world.  The postal service, stamps and our hand-written (or typed) letters were the only way we 'talked' to each other.

The other day I got an email from an old friend, commenting on this.  Lamenting that we don't communicate as our children do, instantly and frequently.  But our relationship has the freedom of that gap in it.  E was telling me that she typed in an education class in which a professor spoke of 'wait-time', which is giving students time between asking them to think before expecting them to answer a question.  In this instant world we live in perhaps that's more important than ever before.  I know it's what I need with my daughter right now.  I need 'wait-time'.  Time for her to experience more than just exhaustion and, 'where the heck is a bed, please!!!!' before she tries to be coherent.  We need it in all our relationships, don't we?  Time to let the other process and think and brood and dwell and sit with a question.  Then answer thoughtfully and without the kind of rancor an instant answer might bring.

And, of course, we absolutely need it with God.  How often do we sit down to pray, say everything we have on our hearts, just spew it all out like vomit, really, yes, just like that.  Or even rejoice and be glad, and hallelujah and praise Him. Or some combination of the two, with confessing our sins and forgiving our neighbors thrown in. Yes, all good things, all worthy, right, honorable elements of true prayer thrown in there. Then we say our Amen.  And off we go. Pleased with how good and fruitful and, well, blessed the time has been, though there might be, if we're honest, a niggly question of something missing, though we aren't quite sure what.
It's the 'wait-time'.  Without waiting whatsoever for Him to answer, how can it be complete and satisfying?  We need Him to show up.  But how can we expect Him to show up if we don't wait for Him to do so?  We're all just so impatient to get on with our day, with our lives, with doing the good work He's called us to do.  But the better work starts with that 'wait-time'.

Or, as He puts it, "Be still and know that I am God."

No comments: