Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Opportunity to Wait

One of the new interns I work with works in the temple in Provo, helping in the baptistery on Thursday nights. I asked him how busy it was. He commented that when his shift first started at 4 p.m., it wasn't bad at all, but as the evening progressed it got busier. He mentioned that during the later evening hours, those who came to participate would find themselves with the opportunity to wait for long periods of time.

I laughed at first, since for an impatient person like me the thought of viewing any kind of time where I would be forced to do nothing but contemplate my own thoughts and feelings as more like annoying and less like an "opportunity". I mean obviously the only way to accomplish something is to actually be doing something, right?

But it really only took me a minute to step away from that original thought. What better place was there to wait than the temple? There are no electronics, no chores or to do lists looming. Everyone whispers and so there is nothing but peace. Its really the perfect chance to step away from the busyness of life, and have a moment of one-on-one time with my Savior, and be given the chance to really dig into the pools of self reflection with very little distraction. Waiting is a chance to calm the waters of the soul, evaluate and plan, prepare, reflect and adjust. In the stillness, the spirit is louder and your comprehension more clear.

Most often though, its not moments in a peaceful place filled with the spirit of love that brings my mind, heart and body to the necessity of waiting. I mean, waiting in a tangible place for your turn to fulfill a known purpose and do something specific having an approximate idea of when and how and where the waiting will far easier to do with a measure of patience than the kind of waiting I'm usually forced to do. 

I see where there are certain things in my life where I want things to progress. I really want it to be my turn and it feels like I am endlessly hoping that the front of the line is getting closer even though as far as I can tell, the line hasn't budged in years. I tell myself over and over again that if I'm not doing something, I must not be progressing. It frustrates me to not be doing anything. But if I can find value in waiting in the temple, there may also be value in waiting in our lives. Having these lulls is an opportunity... a chance to step back, evaluate and plan, prepare, reflect and adjust. If used properly, the time can help make me ready for what will happen next. In the stillness, we can hear better the promptings and understand more clearly.  The more impatiently I wait, the longer it will take to move on. If I spend all of my mental efforts being frustrated and annoyed and wishing I was doing something, I've allowed very little of that resource to be allocated to the necessary things that will actually help me progress.

I think when we feel we are playing the waiting game, it may be because we simply aren't yet ready for the next part of the journey to begin. Another possibly is that we are trying to force something to happen that simply isn't right. In that case, the Lord kind of puts things in neutral until we figure out whatever it is we need to know and then puts the wheel back in motion when we catch up. It feels like I'm waiting for him. In truth, its most likely the other way around.

My plan from now on is to complain less about the waiting and instead look at it as a chance to get ready. My grandmother added a little nugget of wisdom to this; "I find time resolves most things."

Oh so true. And time can only pass when you wait for it to pass. I will take advantage of the opportunity to wait.