Waiting is hard.
No one likes to wait!
As postmodern people and consumers, we have been told and think that, “The customers are always right!” or, “Have it your way!” We have been told, “Just do it!” or, “YOLO! (You only live once!)” All these things make us fixated on immediate gratification, hence no one wants or has time to wait anymore! If we want something, we want it now. We will find someone who can provide or give us what we like, and at times, at all costs, too! We get depressed, anxious, and angry when we have to wait for something or someone; however, the important and unavoidable irony is that all the good things in life require time and patience.
My mother always asked me what I would like to eat when I visit them, and it takes her a long time (many hours; if not, days) to prepare my favorite dishes. I know she put a lot of works into preparing and cooking them because they taste absolutely amazing when I eat them. I may be a little biased, but I know that not only my mother is an amazing cook, I can also feel the countless hours and love she puts inside the cooking process. Hence, this particular example reminds me — and hopefully, you, too — that we can easily go to the freezer section and buy a microwavable meal, and it will be engineered to replicate and satisfy the essential tastes, but nothing tastes like a home-cooked meal! Immediate, microwavable goods might taste fine, but they have hidden long-term bad side effects, too. If you do not believe me, look at how much sodium, carbohydrates, or fat content are required to keep them “fresh” and “good” tasting. Therefore, I think we can share a general consensus through this one simple example of the most basic and essential activities of life, which is cooking, that good things require patience!
Another example… One of the teams for last year’s Deanery Confirmation Retreat was named after the virtue of “Patience,” and it, ironically took them a long time to come up with the motto and slogan for the team. They were frustrated at first because they do not now to make it “cool” sounding, but they finally came up with it — halfway into the retreat. It was a bit corny but I think it was cute: “Wait for it… Wait for it… Patience!” Similarly, in Spanish and many Romance languages, the word for hope, “esperanza,” shares the same epistemological root as the verb “esperar,” which means to wait. It, therefore, reminds, too, us that our hope is strengthened, deepened, matured, and grow when we learn to wait in the Lord.
Patience helps us to personally create the space and time for God to intervene because we are often so busy with life that He is regularly pushed aside. We are so occupied with what is needed to be done that the Almighty has to push and force Himself into our busyness to get our attention… perhaps, sadly at times, too, having to make our plans fall apart so we can slow down and focus on what is important. Unfortunately, we tend to blame Him when things do not go right without taking the time to ask deeper questions. To be honest, we naturally hate obstacles and dislike when we are not in control, being the focal point, or center of everything. Nevertheless, how many of us really take the time to see God in the inconveniences of our very own lives?
Where is God? He is in it all!
Why did God abandon me? No, He is in it with us!
Why did I not get what I want if God loves me? Because He wants to care and give us what we truly need!
Why did God smite me? He does not hate us just because we simply feel like we deserve much more, for His love for us is much more than what we could ever imagine or know in the present moment!
So many relationships, families, and marriages are falling apart because people are so busy trying to live their lives with so many different things. Yet, things fall apart because they have become impatient with one another and with themselves! Everything is frustrating, negative, and only focused on fixing the problems or by talking about why things have not been done that life itself becomes burdensome and home is somewhere to be avoided! Things fall apart when we are demanding, expecting, and impatient with one another. Only in the silence, patience, and loving embrace of a genuine home, relationship, and faithfulness can we find the purpose to live and embrace the creative tensions that life throws at us.
Without a doubt, life is meaningful because of the people, relationships, and faithfulness that are in it — not simply because we have what we want. Therefore, it takes patience, silence, and humility to recognize the hidden blessings. Sometimes, less essential things have to break down to remind us that we just cannot go our same path — we cannot live this way anymore — because whatever we have right now is not real, life-giving, or meaningful. It takes patience and humility to not try to scapegoat and put the blames on God or others but to recognize that what we are doing was not meant to be! Perhaps the necessary obstacles presented themselves so we can see the opportunities to take the time and create the space for God to intervene, to re-prioritize, and to recognize what we need to change for the better.
It should not only about me and what I want! Life is bigger than what I have been filled and occupied myself with all these times. I need to open my eyes to see things as they are and to patiently wait for what is truly important to come to fruition as He wills it. Things do not have to be as I like for them to be OK! It is fine to be at peace and joyful in the small things until God leads me to something else. The most pitiful people are those who never think that they have enough and forget about the people and gifts around them. The simplest and joyful people are the ones who understand that to live is enough, and everything else is just icing on the cake. The simplest, but hardest, lesson to embrace, understand, recognize, and love is that God and His grace are enough for you and me!
All of the readings for the upcoming season of Advent remind us that we need to take time to see God‘s presence, to understand His prophecies, and to prepare for His coming. The Lord Jesus Christ said that the people in the days of Noah missed the signs because they went on their own ways, living life as they liked and they missed the numerous warnings. Hence, it will be at the end of our time, too. I am not talking about the apocalypse with all the unknowns that we cannot control, just simply our own personal end time with our very own earthly death! Will we be ready?
Will we tell God to wait or come back because we are not ready when our time comes? Will we tell Him that we are still too busy living our lives and have not done everything we wanted? It does not work that way! Death waits for no one, for every one of us has an expiration date — some, sooner than later — so we have to prepare ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually for it.
We should try our best to live our everyday life as if it is our best! It does not have to be fancy or outrageous, just with patience, devotion, and faithfulness. Therefore, let us live this upcoming season of Advent well so that our Christmas will be the best one yet! Let us try our best to not skip Advent and jump from holiday to the next without a spiritual and holistic preparatory period. The greatest gift, I hope, that we will be looking forward to receiving this Christmas is not something materialistic underneath the tree, but the greatest, invaluable, and loving gift of all — Christ Jesus — in our heart.
May the peace of the coming Christ be with you!