I don’t remember waiting long when I was a child. I would always have something to do while waiting – be it playing with my imaginary and real playmate, or drawing and coloring artworks. It felt like every moment was fully occupied. As I grew older, I became more aware of waiting for things. It seemed the waiting has been more frequent and longer. It could be the waiting for the outcome of an important project tender, or waiting for the growth of a start-up business. And on the personal side, it involved the quick wait for the end of the day when I would see my family at home, or the seemingly long wait for my son to finish a degree in the university to witness how his life will turn out as an adult.
Perhaps, as a child, I was not consciously waiting. The truth was I was filling the waiting time with my imagination, curiosity, creativity and playfulness. As a grown-up person, I began to fill some of the waiting time with action and prayer, and some of the time with anxiety and worry. As I became more experienced and wiser, I re-discovered the wonderful power of waiting. I learned to maximize the waiting time, much like the way I dealt with it as a child.
We become CREATIVE. We become creative when we are waiting for a project outcome or result. And when the project is not turning out exactly as planned or expected, we begin to improvise or to carve an alternative solution. For those of us who wish to perform and deliver our best, waiting for a genie to grant our wish to change things is not an option. In the process, we become more resourceful and collaborative. When my son was in pre-school age, and we would go on overseas travels, he would immerse himself in the world of Lego or green army soldiers during our downtimes at the airports or hotels. When everyone else would be tired, he would joyfully create and play. The energy of a child is incomparable to that of an adult. But we can always have that child-like curiosity, that impulse to pick-up things and create, or that fearless craving to experiment and learn.
We become PATIENT and EMPATHETIC. When we wait, we develop patience. With patience, we learn to stretch, enjoy the run and celebrate the victory at the finish line. With patience we develop control and endurance. Waiting also brings out our empathetic nature. When we wait, time slows down and we become more aware of and connected with our surroundings. When we are in a constant rush, we don’t notice much what’s happening around us. The younger ones, particularly the Generation Y or the Millenials, are characterized as having a strong sense of entitlement. Yet on the other side, they (especially those Generation Ys who have joined the workforce) are also attributed to be highly civic-minded. In his book, Fast Future, author David Burstein describes Millennials’ approach to social change as “pragmatic idealism,” which means having a deep desire to make the world a better place. “They are more ethnically and racially diverse than their elders and have begun their careers at a time when the recession has set back the job market. Yet they remain optimistic about their future and are deeply connected to one another.”
We gain WISDOM. Waiting gives us reflection time. When we reflect, we get to think, realize and appreciate different perspectives. When we reflect, we also feel, respond or react better to the situation or relevant person. I attended a retreat recently and heard this prayer, which is full of wisdom:
PATIENT TRUST by Teilhard de Chardin
Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually – let them grow; let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time, (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming in you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
There is power in waiting indeed! So just like the child in all of us, let us wait patiently, and let our creativity and wisdom bloom in the process. As we know, growing fruit takes time. Let us not take shortcuts, instead allow the waiting to hone and empower us to become the best versions of ourselves.