As Christians, we've all heard the joke "never pray for patience, or you'll get it." Ironically, our prayers sometimes come out sounding a little like this: "Hurry up, God, I need patience NOW." Nobody likes to wait. We prefer getting things quickly, and with each successive generation our tolerance for waiting seems to diminish. Take, for example, the coined phrased "microwave generation." We want what we want, and we want it as soon as possible. We don't want our desires or dreams or goals to "bake" in the oven. We want to "nuke" our plans and get results immediately! That is the urgency people feel today, fueled by the media, propaganda, and plain selfishness from within.
Waiting for the Little Things
The vocation of marriage frustrates our natural hurriedness by forcing us to wait – a lot. You wait for your turn in the bathroom. You wait to use the sink to brush your teeth. You wait for your spouse to get home to eat dinner. You wait to use the phone. You wait for your turn to use the computer. You wait for them to finish getting ready so you can leave. It seems nothing is on your time or your schedule anymore – because life is no longer about you.
Everybody waits, but not everybody waits patiently or with grace. What makes patience so difficult? Patience stems from a deep level of unselfishness, something that doesn't come naturally to most of us. As unnatural as selflessness may feel, being selfish in your marriage is a surefire way to cause problems. These everyday frustrations offer a wonderful opportunity to cultivate a selfless heart. Why not wait with a good attitude, since you're going to have to wait anyway? When life throws an opportunity to wait at you, put a smile on your face and adopt a carefree expression in order to avoid an argument over something that is beyond your control anyway. "A harsh word stirs up anger, but a soft answer turns away wrath." Psalm 15:1. In time, these little opportunities to learn grace will strengthen your character when bigger challenges come along – and your spouse will thank you for it.
Waiting on Material Things
Not only do we find ourselves waiting on trivial, every day matters, but as married couples, we're often waiting for our worldly dreams to come true. My husband has wanted a boat, a jet ski, a four wheeler, and a new truck ever since he was five years old! I personally would love to have a horse again, and a new house in the country with a private office for my writing – oh, and maybe a trip to Europe! But it doesn't take long to learn that married life isn't an automatic invitation to material wealth. Married life frequently brings on new responsibilities and expenses, and we find ourselves setting aside our childhood fantasies for the sake of the other.
Newlyweds in particular may struggle with tight funds the first few years and most of the things they want are simply not realistic purchases. It's more important to pay the house note and put food on the table than it is to put money aside for a recreational vehicle. Paying your car insurance beats out purchasing new clothes, every time.
The good news: All this isn't to say you'll never have what you want. It's a matter of time, and once again, patience. If you start saving now, you could buy a boat or horse several years down the road. God wants us to be good stewards of our money, and I believe that involves saving and planning. My husband started a separate savings account with his credit union about a year ago. A small percentage is deducted from his paycheck and automatically deposited into this account. We never see or touch the money, and it slowly builds up week after week. We pretend it's not there, and have promised never to use it unless there is a real emergency. The purpose of the money is for us to take an extended vacation somewhere really fabulous in about three years. By then, the money will have built up, with no harm done to our budget, and we'll have a nice trip together, all expenses paid.
If you put in a little effort now, you can enjoy the fruits later. If you and your spouse feel tense about money matters, sit down and map out a long term plan. Knowing you are working towards fulfilling your financial dreams – even if at a slow pace – will take some of the day-to-day pressure off and make waiting that much more rewarding.
Waiting on the Big Things
Sometimes the call to wait seeps into some of the most profound elements of marriage, including childbearing. Over the past several months, many of my friends and coworkers have welcomed children into their homes. Each case strikes me with an instant case of "baby fever." Every time I get back from a baby shower or from visiting a new mom, I question my husband on our own timeline. "But why not now? They're so cute!" Once the fever subsides, I step back into reality and realize unless God decides otherwise, right now is not the best time for us to have children and that a few years down the road would be the best choice for us. Then we'll be more financially stable, my husband will have completed his five year schooling program with the union, and I'll have put in valuable time at my current job. We're waiting, even though it's hard sometimes, because we know it's the best thing for us and for our future children.
For some, waiting is even a source of profound sadness. Some waiting is an exercise of will, but sometimes marriage presents us with situations beyond our control. A couple experiences infertility, and must wait perhaps indefinitely for a child. A spouse gets sick and waits for treatment and recovery. A door is closed on a certain career or mutual dream, and you find yourselves readjusting your plans together. It's times like this – when our dreams are on the line – that waiting seems more like a curse than a blessing.
But "wait" does not have to be a four letter word. Patience truly is a virtue. God wants us to be obedient to Him in seeking His will and timing for our lives, and not just our own. Even in sadness and uncertainty, God has great plans in store. He will bless our obedience and give us more than we could have ever dreamed possible according to His will for our lives. In the meantime, recognize the blessings you have right now in your spouse and in your married life together even in the midst of waiting.
2 Peter 1:5-6 "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, patience; and to patience, godliness."
What are you waiting for today? What is your goal, or dream, or plan for the future? Have you prayed about these plans, and given them to God? Are you seeking His timing on your life, or clinging to your own? There is such joy and freedom that comes when we surrender the burden of our timepieces to Jesus. Hand Him your watch, and be content to keep your eyes on God's clock. His ways are so much higher than ours, His knowledge so infinite, His timing so perfect. We can trust that if we wait until His timer dings, blessings will be sure to follow.
Betsy St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her husband, Brandon. They recently celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary. Betsy has an associate's degree in Christian Communications from Louisiana Baptist University and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. You can contact her at Betsystamant@yahoo.com.