When Mark and I first became parents our world was permanently flipped upside down. Almost everything changed. But there were a few things we decided to keep doing as best as we could — and one of those was eating out as a family.
We didn’t give a ton of thought to the decision. We just knew we didn’t want having kids to keep us from going to restaurants. Even though it’s a lot crazier now, we love trying new places or even taking our kids to some favorites from our dating days.
It’s fun for us and of course delicious. But there’s another reason why we’ve kept up this rhythm, especially as things have gotten more complicated now with a toddler and a baby.
Because eating out is a great way to learn to wait.
From the moment you walk into a restaurant there is a sequence of waiting — for your table, your waiter, your drinks, your food, and your check. It’s all a progression and it all requires waiting.
One of the reasons we love bringing our kids with us is that they learn how to wait too, which is an essential life skill.
Life is full of transitions, progressions, and periods of waiting. It doesn’t really matter what your circumstances are, there’s always the tension of what is not yet — which is why learning to wait is so important.
Lately I’ve been writing on how we need this waiting process despite its stretching and difficulty. We don’t want to miss the deep work offered in the waiting that mandates we mature and become through the days we live.
But that definitely doesn’t make waiting easy or seamless. We all know it isn’t.
It’s why when we’re eating out, I like to look around at the other parents with their kids too. If I can catch an eye, I give a subtle smile as a way of saying, “I’m with you and this isn’t easy, but you’re doing great.”
Because they’re waiting too and for all the screams, bribes of food, and soft shushes, we’re all trying to be present (even enjoy) while we’re there.
This obviously expands far outside those restaurant walls. No matter how different our lives look, you and I are both navigating what hasn’t yet happened. Sometimes we’re able to handle it fairly well, but other times we’re about to crumble under the uncertainty of when, if, or how.
So what do we do while we wait? Here are a few thoughts…
1. We keep standing.
In the psalms, David sings of God’s goodness to come. He’s confident he will see it. But it’s also clear that he’s in the tension of what isn’t, so he adds,
“Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” [Psalm 27:14]
Whenever I read this verse I imagine myself on a BOSU. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically half an exercise ball with a firm, flat side to it. There are many ways to use it, but most often I’ve stood on the flat side so that the curved part is between my feet and the ground. The whole thing is unbelievably wobbly when you’re on it. Your only options are to pull your core tight and let your legs shake like crazy, or ungraciously fall to the ground. I only learned to do the first because of the countless times I’ve done the second.
When we’re standing on the uncertain ground of waiting and have no idea when things will change or how they will look, we have to determine that we will keep standing in what life is right now. Because standing keeps us living what is before us, and there’s no partaking in what comes if we miss what is right now.
We must pull our core tight and determine we will hold firm to our truth — of who God is, who we are, and what he has promised — while we stand in this waiting.
2. We pour out gratitude.
You’ll hear me come back to thankfulness over and over. Waiting challenges us to choose gratefulness where we are without any circumstantial changes.
In fact, thankfulness naturally shifts our perception of our problems to see things from a higher vantage point. So there’s an exchange of complaining, commiserating, and wallowing for celebrating, living, and enjoying.
Things won’t always be as they are right now, which is good news for those of us who are living under intense waiting in this season. But the opportunity as we wait is that we can be wildly thankful both for what is and what we believe will come.
3. We make declarations.
One of the greatest gifts in the waiting is the chance to grow in the prophetic. It naturally upgrades our faith and our ability to connect with God higher than surrounding circumstances or present emotions.
Though we stand in what is and are grateful for it, what do we believe God will do even still?
Right before David charged himself to be strong and wait, he declared this:
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” [Psalm 27:13]
David hadn’t tasted or seen it yet, but he knew he would. He believed God would pour out his goodness in the days ahead.
Only as we wait do we have the opportunity to lift an offering of faith to God and declare he is doing beyond what we see or know in this moment. So we raise our voices high and declare what still comes.
4. We gather others.
We’re not meant to do any of this on our own. In fact one of the gifts of the waiting, though uncomfortable too, is that it demands the participation of others. We can’t navigate the pressure on our own. We need people in our corner, believing for us when we’re tired, doubtful, or totally defeated.
Recently I sat on the couch across from my husband, Mark, and processed through some self-doubt in my own waiting. I knew the answers to my spinning questions, but I needed more than that.
Mark looked me straight in the eyes and spoke the words I was feeling too overwhelmed to say for myself. He reminded me of my resolve to keep standing and that we are thankful for what God is doing. He spoke prophetic words of who he sees me to be and what he believes will still be done.
His words resettled and recharged me. They reignited that fire in me to keep going.
Ultimately this is what the waiting demands, that we invite people to be in it with us so we aren’t crushed by it. This isn’t a one-and-done experience, but something we keep practicing. Because gathering people to remind us along the journey of our identity, calling, and passion is the only way to keep standing, believing, and declaring for what God will do next.
What’s been helpful to you as you navigate disappointment or prolonged waiting? I’d love for you to share below!