We wait all the time. We wait in line at the grocery store with mom and dad. We wait in the car driving in traffic. We wait for the host to call us to our table at a restaurant for dinner. We wait for the right time and write words. We even wait in line to receive Christ Jesus in the Eucharist! Waiting has become expected, yet somehow it still remains excruciating. Even when we know full well that we will have to wait, we still don’t want to, but why is that?
I had a college student ask me “what do you do in the waiting when you know that you’re called to the vocation of marriage?” This is a particularly painful waiting period. We find ourselves searching for the right man or the right woman waiting for the Lord to reveal which one He has destined for us. It seems like we have waited long enough or we are finally ready now, yet for some reason, our spouse is nowhere to be found. We are rejected time and time again. We sit and watch our friends from school grow up and get married. Then we find ourselves in agony thinking, ‘when is it going to be my turn?’
Do not grow weary. Do not remain heartbroken. Do not wait and twiddle your fingers watching your life go by.
After reflecting more on that college student’s question, my answer is to go to the Lord. He is the greatest example of what it means to wait. Think of the prodigal son. The father is waiting for his son to come home, but he’s not waiting passively for his son. When he sees his son off in the distance he doesn’t stay on the porch waiting. He runs to him. He gives all of Himself to us so that we might return to Him. He makes Himself vulnerable in the Eucharist so that we might come and meet Him face to face. We can do nothing and still, He waits for us. He is waiting for us every day, every hour.
Our own God teaches us never to wait passively. He is the perfect example of how to wait well.
But what if we have been patient with the Lord…is praying the only thing that we can do while we wait?
No, we can’t just sit in prayer all day long waiting for our spouses to show up or prayers to be answered. Again, we must wait actively. This might look like you becoming more introspective. The Lord might want to use this time of waiting to purify something within your heart or your life. For example, the healing of childhood wounds or trauma in counseling or therapy.
I thought for sure I was ready to date and enter my vocation in my junior year of college. I had everything figured out and under control. I was working two jobs, taking 15 credit hours worth of classes, and holding a few leadership positions at my catholic center. It seemed like the last piece to having everything was a boyfriend. I quickly became frustrated and confused when that last piece wasn’t falling into place. However, in March of that year, I entered into a now two-year-long mental health journey. Although I was doing all the ‘right’ things during that year, the Lord still needed time to take care of my heart before He introduced another person into the mix. There would’ve been absolutely no time left in my schedule to really give of myself to someone else and live authentically in a romantic relationship. My heart was stretched for sure and it’s not like my desire for love or for my vocation ever lessened, but I feel far better prepared and healthier when the time comes to enter into my vocation.
Be curious about yourself. This time of singleness and waiting doesn’t solely have to be a time of healing, but can be used to find new hobbies. If it wasn’t for my time of singleness, I wouldn’t have ever discovered that I love to cook and host people, that I love to read, or even that I love to learn about the brewing process of beer and coffee. All of these things have made me a more well-rounded person and allowed me to invite other people into my interests.
Maybe the waiting still feels excruciating and my heart aches with you. I am so sorry. This desire has been written in our hearts since the beginning of our creation. Sadly, I don’t have much more of an antidote to the pain, but one last thought. I was reflecting on the Holy Week events and how we spend a lot of the week quite literally waiting for Christ to die. Now we know He will be resurrected, but put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. They were told that He would come again but they really had no idea what that would look like. Even on His resurrection day, Mary Magdalene confused Him with the gardener. They waited and grieved the agony of losing their greatest friend, but in a few short days, He resurrected not so that He might live again, but that we might have eternal life. The resurrection of Christ Himself is the greatest example of proof that our waiting will be redeemed.
So we might be waiting, but maybe it’s because something greater is coming.