“Hurry up and wait!” Those of us having served in the military during any era are well-aware of the meaning of this phrase-the delay while awaiting orders, the long lines as we waited to collect uniforms, gear, pay, or passes to go out on liberty, the sleepless nights before a secret mission or deployment, the early morning musters to wait until mid-afternoon decisions were made for the next course of action.
No matter how many times we experienced it, it was never any less frustrating, nor were we ever able to do anything about it except to gripe and complain. We looked forward to the day when we could transition back to civilian life and the incessant wait would be over, things would be done in a timely fashion, decisions made without delay, and people would follow the schedule which they set up for us. And of course, we were disappointed when we realized that this is no different outside of the military.
In our fast-paced American culture, we want things to happen NOW! And if not right now, yesterday would have been better!
We want fast food, drive-through coffee shops, the grocery store “express line,” on-line bill pay, e-cards and e-mail. We get irritated when we have to wait in line at the gas station, at the movie theatre, or at the airport. We simply do not like waiting.
This need for speed or instant gratification seems to have become the norm for us–culturally, professionally and personally–infiltrating the way we think, the way we do business and how we treat others in every type of relationship. Our mindset has become rather impatient, and if things happen quickly, then we think this the “right” way. If there is a delay, a waiting period, or a process takes longer than what we want it to take, then we see the process as “flawed.”
There really is a need for us to begin to welcome life’s processes, instead of being annoyed by them. Sometimes the process is more important than the “quick fix” of things we want to acquire, build or develop. As painfully difficult and slow it may seem to be, there are simply some things that don’t come quickly.
Imagine that you want to have a small garden to raise enough vegetables to feed your family and sell the majority to the local grocery store for a small income. You till the soil and plant the garden today, and when you wake up the next morning the grocer is calling you with a demand for carrots and corn, and your family is complaining that the lettuce is taking too long to grow for the salad they want to eat RIGHT NOW!
Of course, this example is pretty silly but it describes just how unrealistic some of our demands are when we look to get results from others, or from processes which are set up to keep our lives running more smoothly. This is true for social programs, schools, small businesses, and large corporations.
It is also true in our dealings on a more personal nature and in our relationships to others, as well as things over which we have little control. It is in the “delays” that we are able to learn, change and grow, as we develop into a stronger, more mature version of who we are and what we want to become.
Just as a vegetable garden must be planted, watered, fertilized, weeded, and protected again pests in order for it to flourish and be ready for the harvest later in the season, so are we to go through the processes in every aspect of our lives in order to prepare us for an abundant harvest at the proper time of harvest. If we open up new pods expecting mature peas, or pulling up the carrots at the first sign of the green tops expecting to find full development of a carrot, then we will never have enough for a meal, let alone a bumper crop!
I must admit that I have often been one of those impatient people when it comes to the waiting game. In fact, I find the word “process” rather difficult to stomach, especially when so many others seem to develop unnecessary processes as an avenue for the micro-management of employees, or as a way to control others and situations when their own situations are so out-of-control.
But I am learning that when faced with the delays that naturally occur as life is lived, whether it be in the job-search process, a medical procedure, the results which come from a change in behavior, the time it takes to grow a relationship, or even learning to be more patient about the whole process to begin with, these delays give opportunity–the opportunity to plant new seedlings of ideas, water and fertilize them to help grow them into a healthy crop of goals, weed out those thoughts which will choke out the healthy seedlings, and protect ourselves from the pests of negativity, discouragement, and doubt.
Sometimes the process is truly the better plan, even if we might not see it at the moment, or in a day, or a week, or even in a year from now. If we will trust in the natural order of life, and not become so impatient when we must sit back and wait, we will begin to see just how important the time we spend waiting is to gaining better results, a more fulfilling outcome, and how that time spent will mold and shape us into a superior version of what we would be if not for life’s process and its test of time.
“Let us not become weary…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).