In today’s fast-paced world, no one wants to hurry up and wait. What can you do when confronted with this conundrum?
Doing Business in Alaska
“How long does it take to get new windows in Arizona?” I asked Pedro while we waited for the window guy at Home Depot to return.
“When I replaced the windows in my dad’s house, I had to special-order a few of them, so it took three weeks.”
“Whew! Even if it takes twice as long up here in Alaska, we should have them by the end of the summer before we need to head home.”
He nodded and checked his phone for measurements one last time. I wandered off to look at paint and carpet samples. After spending several days in the condo ripping out all the broken things, a vision of what I wanted the condo to look like had started to coalesce inside my brain.
I knew I had to work with readily available materials. I ordered a carpet color I liked instead of one I absolutely loved, because the warehouse had plenty in stock. The carpet happened to look great with the waterproof flooring Costco had on sale. Now, I just needed a paint color to pull it all together.
Pedro had almost finished the order when I returned to the window section.
“Great,” the salesman said, “I’m ready to take your credit card.”
“When will the windows arrive?” I asked.
He looked at his computer and clicked a few buttons. “They’ll be here in eight or nine weeks.”
“Oh, boy,” Pedro and I said in unison. In eight or nine weeks we’d be hard at work back in Arizona.
“Do you still want them?” the salesman asked.
Pedro and I looked at each other and shrugged. “Yes,” I said. We’d have to figure something out.
Hurry Up and Wait
We quickly discovered remodeling projects in Alaska just take more time. Especially if you need to order something. After leaving Home Depot, I called all the local window vendors, who assured me if I could get windows in eight to nine weeks, I should snap them up.
I’ve learned life takes a similar path. We want desperately to make positive changes in our lives—changes people will notice. But all too often, the visible results of our hard work take weeks, months, or years longer than we anticipate. We get discouraged because we must hurry up and wait.
It helps me to remember my favorite verse from Isaiah—Those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power. (Isaiah 40:31, AMP). This verse helps me refocus on what HE will do IN me, not what I think I can accomplish on my own. If I’ve spent time authentically analyzing my why (this post will help you), then I know I can find strength in my Creator as I wait.
Sometimes, I wait for him to accomplish a good work in me. I need to allow the Holy Spirit to change my heart and my attitude.
Other times, I realize God has given me the tools I need to do the job. When this happens, God waits for my heart to accept what my head already knows.
My head knows a lot of stuff—how to eat well, how shortcuts don’t save time, how I need to make healthy lifestyle choices and not just change what I eat. I’ve discovered professional coaches and counselors can help me connect my head knowledge with my heart attitude.
I can learn to hurry up (do my part) and wait (allow time for God to do the work he sees he needs to do in me.
Putting in the Elbow Grease
“I guess I’ll clean on top of the cupboards,” I said with little enthusiasm. I’d gingerly touched them and decided they needed a good scrubbing before I painted them.
Pedro nodded, “And if I need something from Home Depot, you can take a break, right?”
“Absolutely!” I don’t like scrubbing grimy things, so I looked forward to an excuse to take a break.
My mom and I had cleaned the inside of the cupboards and painted them a bright white. They looked so nice. No one ever looks at the top of the cupboards, but I knew I needed to clean and probably paint them. At first, I thought they were raw wood. The texture seemed grainy and had flecks of something in them.
But as I started to scrub, I realized the grainy things and rough surface consisted of a quarter inch of disgusting grime and detritus. It took hours of elbow grease to remove the dingy layer. I had to dig into corners, and I used an entire bottle of degreaser.
Hurry up and wait in our inner lives looks like that too, sometimes. We tidy up the outer parts of ourselves and feel impatient at the progress. When we realize we must tackle something we’ve put off, it takes more time and effort than we anticipated. But to do the job well, we must do the deep cleaning. We might have to apply emotional elbow grease (counseling or coaching) or take steps to declutter our lives.
Changes Cause Disruption
The remodeling process causes disruption—lots of it. It doesn’t matter if you do the work or if you hire someone else to do it. Your life will feel unsettled while the changes take place. As soon as we replaced the flooring and installed one of the toilets, we started camping in the condo.
That meant no kitchen, no dishwasher, no counter space, and we’d need to wash dishes in the bathtub. We’d done it before, and we could do it again. At the end of the summer, I guesstimated we had finished over half of what needed to be done.
We returned in September to install the new windows. In November, we spent our Thanksgiving vacation working on more projects. I returned for a week at Christmas to work on the kitchen cupboards.
In June, over a year had gone by, and we hadn’t finished the project yet. I realized I often set unrealistic expectations for myself (and others). Why did it take me this long to figure this out? I want things to happen NOW; I don’t want to hurry up and wait. But camping in a condo taught me I can endure more disruption than I enjoy. I can hurry at a healthy pace, which might mean waiting longer than I anticipated.
As I write this, I wait again to board a plane for Alaska. I guesstimated wrong last year. We haven’t finished the project, but we will finish it this weekend. But I value my lessons about the need to hurry up and wait, apply elbow grease, and feel at peace during disruptive times. Have you ever had a project drag on forever? What lessons did you learn?
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