I’ve been waiting on my peonies to bloom for weeks. WEEKS!
But before we go further, let’s get one thing straight. Peony is pronounce pi·ə·ni. It’s NOT pe-OOOO-ni. My dear friends from the south love to pronounce it with the emphasis on the o. Maybe they pronounce it that way because they think, “OOOOOh my, I wish we could grow these down south.” Sorry, southerners. Peonies are cold climate plants. So, I take compassion on their peony-less existence, and we stay friends.
Okay. Back to the story. My plant budded beautifully and then… nothing. 3 non-blooming weeks!
As I waited, people started posting photos of their peonies to social media. They showed up as bouquets on desks and counters. Full gorgeous blooms were everywhere… except at my house.
Each day I’d come home to no change – just closed up buds with the smallest hint of color. It was maddening. Everyone else had what I wanted and I didn’t. Of course, I’m being a bit dramatic about waiting for something as simple as flower blooms, but you get what I mean?
Maybe it’s not flowers you’re anxiously waiting on. Maybe its something more serious: a test result, a job offer, a restored marriage. Maybe the thing you’re waiting for is taking entirely too long. While you wait, you see others get what you want, and still you wait.
I don’t know about you, but in the past, I’ve looked at waiting as a passive state of being. Waiting meant biding time. Limbo. I’ve put other things on hold while I waited. Often, long seasons of waiting have been filled with my verbal discomfort. Some might call it complaining…
“When is this injury going to heal?” “How long am I going to be in this horrible job?” “I can’t do thus and such because…”
What I’m coming to understand is that waiting is an active verb. It’s not a passive period of time. It’s not hitting the pause button on life. Waiting is an action, and how we do it matters.
Recently, I’ve been contemplating the idea of waiting quietly. Not talking or complaining. In silence, but not just silence. Psalm 62:5 offers great direction on how to wait well.
- Make God the focus of your waiting. Whether you’re waiting for something huge or you’re waiting in an airport, is your focus on God? Pull out your favorite verse or prayer. Use the time to work on scripture memory. Meditate on a verse that God is using to soothe your soul in times of turmoil. Paint it. Draw it. Doodle it. Write it on your bathroom mirror.
- Be the boss of your emotions. David speaks to his soul frequently – in one translation, he uses the phrase “O my soul” a dozen times. He is not without emotion, but he also doesn’t let his emotions take control. He frequently says, “you’re not in charge!” Often our emotions want to override the hope and peace we know we have in God. Don’t let them do that. Of course, when we take the focus off of ourselves and our circumstances, and place it on God (see #1) it’s easier to ratchet back the emotions that threaten to take over. Please hear me. I’m not saying that we stuff our feelings. Emotions are God-given gifts. Jesus had and displayed emotion. But they can’t be the boss of us.
- Stop talking. Man, can I get myself wound up, especially if my emotions are in control. I talk because I THINK it’s going to make me feel better. I talk because I want sympathy. I talk for all the wrong reasons. And the more I talk, the more I regret what I’ve said in later, less-emotional moments.
Here are the questions I’m asking myself as I learn to wait well.
- How is waiting better when I’m using the time to remind my soul that what God has for me is worth the wait?
- How is waiting better when I do it quietly?
- How is waiting better when I do it in the secret place with God rather than out loud with anyone who will listen?
I’m just beginning to grasp the magnitude of the work God will do in my heart when I wait in silence. Also, as you can see, my peonies did finally bloom and they are magnificent. Worth the quiet wait.