Watching and Waiting

Photo/KarenJordanI’ve learned a lot about waiting and watching as a writer. So, I wanted to share this excerpt from my book, Words That Change Everything, with you.

Waiting rooms can bring out the worst in me. Long periods of waiting produce all kinds of emotional red flags—from impatience and worry to full-blown panic attacks.

Reminders of past pain, traumas, and personal losses make our current trouble seem intolerable. The dark clouds roll in, and we ignore the light of spiritual truth.

I’ve been assigned to many waiting rooms, especially this past decade. And I don’t really like to wait; I’m very impatient for good news to arrive. But waiting does not have to be hopeless. We can find hope and resist worry when we know that God is listening to our cries for help.

The psalmist speaks of “waiting” in Psalm 40, and I particularly resonate with this line from The Message Bible.

I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. (Ps. 40:1–2 The Message)

Jumping from one waiting room to the next—crisis after crisis—and trying to help others in their time of need, well-meaning supporters encouraged me to find relief from my stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.

When I asked for advice how to obtain their suggested rest, some offered me quick fixes and temporary solutions. But nothing provided the peace that I desperately needed until I leaned on God’s Word for help.

What are you waiting for today?

jordanKaren Jordan. Words that Change Everything. Copyright © 2016 by Karen Jordan. Used by permission of Leafwood Publishers, an imprint of Abilene Christian University Press.

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Seek Hope While Waiting

4864922_s“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.

Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”

(Harold Glen Borland – a nature journalist who wrote poetry, fiction for adults and children, and other nonfiction. 1900-1978)

As a writer, I need patience and persistence. But I am more than tree and grass. I’m a creative emotional being with spirit, mind, and soul, who struggles with waiting. Right now I’m in squirm mode—between book contracts. I’m lowly bait, a worm on a hook writhing with concern over my writing career. Pathetic, fickle creature.

I recently read patience is the level of endurance one can take before falling into negativity.

Thoughts such as:

-I won’t get another contract because I’m a lousy writer.

-Writing is too much effort for the reward. I’m dangling on the end of a hook, remember. And it’s not the first time either.

The psalmist understood fickle creatures and negative thoughts. And of all things, he preaches back at them with a pep talk regarding God’s love.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” Psalms 42

In squirm mode, I’m itching for action.

Anything to hope again.

Even preaching to myself.

Preaching to myself . . . I guess I could clean my desk so I can read my inspirational plaque: Live creatively.

I could tape my theme scripture on my bathroom mirror. “Explore who you are and the work you’ve been given. Sink yourself into it. Don’t be impressed with yourself or compare yourself to others. Be your creative best for you.” Gal 6:1-5

The psalmist reminded himself of wonderful experiences of past worship. I could search my prayer journal and see what God’s accomplished in my life. Perhaps it’s time to browse my writing scrapbook, or make one.

I suddenly see it. My writing lull is a comma, not a period. It’s a gift of time from a loving God. I can use it to rethink priorities, set writing and marketing goals, hone new skills. Persistence urges me into action and hope marches up my spine. I shiver with delight. Yes, there is hope in the waiting.

Even so, a negative thought returns. Working without a deadline? Impossible.

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No!

 I preach to myself. Soul, you’re strong in Christ.

Waiting is extra time. A gift from God. Praise Him. 

I don’t want to squander my time wallowing in negativity when I have a gazillion better choices. I will catch up on life. Ideas pop into my mind of ways to bless my family and friends. Or I could use my time to practice self-discipline. I’m not pathetic or fickle. I’m normal. I’m also chosen, forgiven and loved. I find another blessing. Waiting makes me thirsty for living water.

Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for the water brooks,

so my soul pants for Thee, O God.”

Beyond the tree and grass and worm is a larger stream. I can wait in confidence that He’ll nudge me along in His time.

What uplifting sayings or verses do you cherish?

What blessings do you experience in wait mode?

Hurry Up And Wait…

We’ve all been there. Staring down a road that leads to who knows where, wondering if we’ll ever reach the end of it. I’ve read that on average, we’ll spend at least five years of our lives just waiting. Waiting for the interminable line of traffic to start moving. Waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for an email. Waiting for that long-awaited letter to arrive in the mailbox. We wait for good news. We wait for bad news. Waiting is a physically agonizing process, a process that is completely out of our hands.

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, I suspect by now you know all about waiting. Perhaps you were fortunate enough to go in prepared. Some kind soul warned you that once you start submitting your work, you’d be in for the wait of a lifetime. I wasn’t so lucky. When I started sending out queries to agents and editors, I had no idea how long the whole process would take. Even now as a published author, I’m still frustrated by how long everything takes in the world of publishing. You see, I’m not the most patient person in the world. But I have learned, through trial and error, that some things are worth waiting for.

Once upon a time, about a decade ago, I decided to search for my birth family. I’d always known I was adopted, but until then, never felt the need to search. Until God stepped in and said otherwise. Call it what you will – fate, destiny, blatant curiosity. All I knew for sure was that I needed to know. And so I embarked on a journey with an unknown destination.

If you think the wheels of publishing move slowly, try dipping your toes in the murky waters of the adoption ocean. Uncovering any information is akin to embarking on a quest for The Holy Grail.

Fortunately, given my aversion to waiting, I was one of the lucky ones. My answers came quickly. Too quickly perhaps. I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of emotions that took up residence and unpacked for the duration. It was a hard but necessary time in my life. A time when all I could do was throw up my hands, cry out to God, and ask Him for answers.

You see, not only had I found my birth mother, who was not completely receptive to my sudden reappearance in her life, but I discovered that I had a sister. A sister who was completely unaware of my existence. And I was asked to wait. Wait for the right time to tell her. Wait to see whether or not I would be able to establish a relationship with this person I knew nothing about yet felt deep in my soul a connection I could not at the time comprehend.

I said earlier that waiting is something we can’t control. But we try, don’t we? We send follow-up emails, perhaps a phone call or two to nudge the process along. Eventually we realize we’re not doing ourselves any favors. We give up and go back to waiting.

In the Christian community you’ll often hear the following – “God answers prayers three ways. Yes. No. Wait.”  There are no maybes with God. When your answer is a “Yes!”, you know that feeling! You rejoice, cry a little, throw a party. The “No.” answer is hard. It hurts. You don’t understand. You might get angry, depressed, reluctant to try again. But if you know in your heart that God is at work, you’ll accept the no in faith that He has a better plan. Oh, but that “Wait…” Now, that’s the kicker.

How long, God? Why? When will something give?

Sound familiar?

My wait took a little over a year. As frustrated and anxious as I was with the situation, I knew without a doubt that somehow, some way, God was working it out. Was it easy to wait? As easy as walking across a bed of hot coals and broken glass. Every day. Was it worth it?

You bet.

My sister and I now have a wonderful relationship. I’m glad I hung in there. I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m glad I waited. Most of all, I’m really glad I trusted God.

Nowadays, when I’m checking my email every five seconds waiting for news, I remind myself of that time in my life. I tell myself to cut it out. Stop being so impatient. There is a time and a place for everything. And it’s not up to me.

What about you? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever waited for?

A Writer’s Life: The Waiting Room

Today I’d like to invite you to join me someplace most, if not all, writers are familiar with. Where’s that, you ask?

The Waiting Room.

Oh. My. Word. Your groans probably registered on the Richter scale. Stop it right now and come on in. Yeah, the Waiting Room is crowded. And the magazines are out-of-date. But we’re here to talk, not peruse the 2005 issue of Bowhunter magazine

If you’re a writer, the Waiting Room is unavoidable. Truth is, if you stay the course, you’ll make repeated trips to this room where the hands on the clock never seem to move and you languish forever, wondering when someone will call your name and say, “We’ll see you now.”

Aren’t I just the messenger of all things light and breezy today?

Why, you ask, why the Waiting Room? It’s such a waste of time.

Is it really? 

What can you learn while you wait? (Yes, I know you’d rather get seen and get out of here. But stick with me.)

  1.  Understand attitude is key. If I expect to wait then I avoid the “Woe is me” attitude — or at least succumb to fewer attacks of self-pity. If I get into my appointment on time or — gasp! — early, then I celebrate. Translation: No one is an overnight success. If some author tells you that they were, they’re lying. (You can tell them I said so.)
  2. Come prepared to wait. Do I want to waste time thumbing through magazines I’d never read even if I was stranded on a desert island? Translation: What are you doing while you wait for “the call”? Are you counting time or making time count by revising your manuscript, attending conferences, connecting with other writers — maybe even encouraging other writers?
  3. Realize everyone hates waiting. Medical professionals hate being behind schedule as much as you hate waiting. Translation: Editors wait too. And agents. And publishers. (Side note: Please, no comments with “waiting for my doctor” horror stories.  Not the point of this post. If you really need to vent, email me at beth@bethvogt.com. I’m married to a doctor. I can take it.)

Time for me to sit back and see what y’all have to say about time spent in the Waiting Room. Tell me how you handle waiting for feedback from your critique group. Or from your agent. Or for the “sign here and would you like an advance with that?” phone call. How do you make waiting worthwhile?

 

*Photo credit: That’s me and my daughter. In my husband’s waiting room. With a copy of author Jody Hedlund’s latest release, The Doctor’s Lady. The sleeping pose is for the sake of the column — not a statement on Jody’s writing. I loved reading The Doctor’s Lady!

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.