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when you are in a waiting place

Waiting to get over jet lag, waiting for our household effects to arrive, waiting for taxis, waiting to feel confident in a new job, waiting for friendships to develop, waiting for school to start, for routines to be in place… Waiting for a new place feel like home.

If you’ve moved recently, you know what this feels like. You too, are in a waiting place.

I’ve done this before, I know how the game works, and still I find myself so impatient for everything to be settled. Maybe it’s having children (not babies) who are SO thrown off by the changes. Maybe I forgot how much slower everything moves when you’re living in the developing world. Maybe I am getting older and less adaptable.

It reminds me – in a less physically uncomfortable way! – of those days waiting for my children to arrive in this world. Each day I felt that I couldn’t wait another day, couldn’t possibly get any bigger, my belly and my heart stretched with so much anticipation that I thought both would snap.

Of course I read all the advice to “enjoy this time while you have it!” and, you know what? I just didn’t. I threw the baby book against the wall (little did I know that would be the first of many times I would throw a baby book against the wall on account of its improbable advice) and went back to stalking back and forth across my living room floor, muttering all manner of threats to the sweet life lodged happily inside of me.

Just the other day I found myself sitting by the edge of the swimming pool, somewhat watching my son in one of his first swimming lessons, but more focused on fretfully calculating how many more days it would take for our car to arrive and something I read recently in a book whispered itself in my heart.

Stay calm. Be present. Give thanks.

I put my phone down from where I had been tracking the ship that is carrying our car across the Pacific (did I believe somehow that staring at the little dot in its sea of blue would make it go faster?). I took a deep breath. I looked at my son laughing and splashing in the pool. I took in his excitement at jumping off the edge. His natural easy trust that the instructor would be there to catch him. I noticed the tropical breeze stirring the leaves of the palm trees overhead.  I got out my gratitude journal and I wrote it all down.

If you are in this place, this waiting place… I see you. I know how hard it is. Waiting for all the pieces of your life to click back into a place, waiting to see what shape they will form. I promise you they will all come together. One day you will be on your first trip back to where you came from and part way through the trip your kids will say, “Mom, I’m ready to go back home.” And “home” will be here… here where your friends, and job, and school, and pets, and almost everything is. You will feel a strange flip in your heart when you hear that, both surprised and grateful. You will get there.

But in the meantime, in the awkward waddling phase, there is joy to be had. One of my favorite writers in the Bible, Paul, talks about how waiting does not diminish us, any more than it diminishes a pregnant mother (and I think that goes for an adoptive mother too!). We are enlarged in the waiting. Of course, he says, we don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Paul is talking about waiting for heaven, what he calls our true home. I think waiting for a place here and now to feel like home is a lot like that.

So over the next week…

as I wait for the repairman to fix a leak in our bathroom, as I wait for that little blue dot to make its way across the ocean, as I wait for the children to cling less, for everyone to feel more comfortable here…

I am going to repeat it to myself, a mantra:

Stay calm. Be present. Give thanks.

If you are in a waiting place too, will you leave a comment and let me know? I’d love to join you in expectant, joyful waiting!


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