Learning to Wait in the Waiting Room

There is a place I used to call my second home: the waiting room. I’ll never forget the hours I spent with my special-needs son in waiting rooms—rooms with tattered magazines, crying children, and tired-looking people who were staring at smudged, blandly painted walls.

Waiting Room
photo credit: jeffk The Cruel Waiting Room via photopin (license)

If there were windows, I watched the outside world whirl by—beautiful women out and about, men in pressed suits connected to cell phones.

I would get stuck in my thoughts . . . somewhere between envious and anxious, weary and worried. I wondered when the waiting would end.

Maybe you have been there or are there now, feeling secluded, lonesome, or friendless. I felt guilty at times, not attending to my other children. I would ask myself,

Who will make their meals or help them with their homework or listen to their day?

I called those days “mazy” days . . . because I felt as though I had no map, no short cuts, and no destination.

Today, I’ve come to realize those experiences were not about “waiting,” though it sometimes felt that way.

God Will Not Forget You

God has not forgotten you, though it might feel that way. I remember writing thank you notes; reading excellent “theological” magazines like People, In Style, and Fitness.

I remember . . .

  • Eating chips and salsa
  • Filing my nails
  • Twisting my hair
  • Hating the slow passing of time

Then, (duh) I picked up my Bible and began to search in it for words like . . .

  • Alone
  • Help
  • Wait
  • How long
  • Sorrow

I discovered that, really, the One waiting was Jesus, invisibly present and patiently longing for me to turn to Him for help.

Waiting

(Image from Unsplash)

With all distractions removed, God reached into my soul and filled it with His truth. It’s not always fun, but it’s the making of who you are.

Recently, I came across this poem that I hope brings comfort to you today. After you read it, pick up God’s Word, and be filled with His love and care for you.

I thank God for bitter things;
They’ve been a ‘friend to grace’;
They’ve driven me from paths of ease
To storm the secret place.

I thank Him for the friends who failed
To fill my heart’s deep need;
They’ve driven me to the Savior’s feet,
Upon His love to feed.

I’m grateful too, through all life’s way
No one could satisfy,
And so I’ve found in God alone
My rich, my full supply!1Florence White Willett, as quoted in Charles R. Swindoll, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit(Nashville: W Publishing, 2002), 242.

Let Me Hear From You

Wherever and whatever your “waiting room” may be, take comfort in knowing that you’re not waiting alone. Please, reach out . . . I would love to connect with you today.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Notes:   [ + ]

1. Florence White Willett, as quoted in Charles R. Swindoll, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit(Nashville: W Publishing, 2002), 242.
  • L Allen

    Thank you for this today!
    What the poem said about the bitter things being a friend of Grace, so struck home to me. It has been a tough year of many lost moments and then finding them, only to lose them again. My heart aches then rejoices in the same breath, knowing that He has entrusted me with these moments that sooo need His Grace. I find myself at peace in the midst of uncertainty of what the future holds for our sweet girl. But knowing His hand has given her to us is all that matters. I have been waiting in those moments you talked about, not in waiting rooms but in life, praying, hoping for some little change that would make everything normal but they have not come. So whatever the future I know HE holds it. I get so much from what you share thank you. I have not been able to speak it to anyone for fear of reaction. You know in minstry you have to be invincable,(not really) but it feels that way most days. I know you know this but GOD uses the brokeness to help bind up the brokeness of others. Thank You!
    May you have the Blessedness of His presence this Christmas!

  • Karen Kuntz

    Wow! I love this! You put into words what all of us special moms go through–no matter what our child’s disabilities.
    And I love that poem.

  • Julie Brown

    Love this. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Question: I’ve tried “replying” to an e-mailed blog, but wasn’t sure it got through. I was trying to find a way to e-mail you (Colleen), when I found this article and (loved it). Could you e-mail me for me to ask you about the ministry at your church. Our church (in Alabama) is wanting to do an outreach to special need families. If there is a list of ways people/churches can get involved with these families or things they can do to help, I would love something like that to build on to pass out at this event. If you have time to e-mail me, I would appreciate it. I’m sorry to contact you in this way. I really have looked and just didn’t see another way. Thank you!

  • Colleen Thompson

    Dear L. Allen: I believe caregivers are the most authentic people on earth (if they’ve chosen to welcome the hardships in place of bitter resentments or envy or… Nothing to hide, nothing to prove; misunderstood by most but not by Christ who was so different from the world. It’s a demanding, revealing path; but leads to freedom. Magentic grace, and humble mercy…there is no other way than through the valley. How I longed for some tiny bit of hope…a diet, doctor’s work, therapies, and more…but my longings were steeped in what I could see; not surrendered in what Christ’s will was for my life. This continues to be a daily reminder of His truth: HIS ways and thoughts are far from our ways and thoughts (ISAIAH)…surrendering to that truth means giving up what we wished for and seeking the Lord to accept what HE has chosen. These are simple words to write but so often require long visits with the Lord, and silencing all voices but HIS as we live. You are on such a good path. ..Yes, a hard one indeed, but salt and light to this lost world. Your dependence upon His grace and mercy is evident. How I applaud you for finding God to be the single supply for you. Blessings, Colleen. (Don’t forget to visit our SN facebook page…you will be embraced and understood. It is all about courage and grace.)

  • Colleen Thompson

    Julie, your comments landed at the right spot! In regards to special needs ministries for your local community; I must refer you to those I’ve found to be the best. I did begin the one at Stonebriar, but those who followed have done far more than I could have imagined. I have found the following organizations excellent in this very purpose. I’ve listed some on the IFL special needs face book page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Special-Needs-Ministry/109071132482250?ref=tn_tnmn). Here are a couple: “Key Ministry.org”; “Joni and Friends.org”; McLean Bible Church; and Stonebriar Community Church. Use your search engine and they are everywhere. In fact, we just did an online “Pajama Conference”…all on line; interviews, various subjects, excellent info for a diverse population…You can search for that by using words “Pajama Conference” or “Key Ministry.org”. My strength is in helping folks via education and advocacy, supporting pastor’s and churches to see the desperate, encouragement, and empowerment for those in grief, suffering, or lost and looking for hope. In addition, on the IFL special needs topical page, you will find a lot of helps; as well as on this blog and facebook page. I hope this answers your questions. For further communication, please feel free to connect with me at Insight for Living: 972-473-5016. I would love to talk further if need be. Colleen

  • LA

    So I re read an entry from December “11 I sit here again at the keyboard, tears streaming down. In silent grief. I had to renew my car insurance this week and for the first time I had to list my precious daughter whom I am not sure will ever drive as restricted classed special needs. I get through the sorrow only to be jerked back into reality that she will never be ok. I go every Sunday and stand at the alter asking God to heal her mind. Believing that if I just go once more that I will see it happen. I can’t seem surrender to it. She is so beautiful and from looking at her you would never know. I just had to put it down on paper for me to get it out. We are in the ministry and have suffered some of the worst kind of treatment anyone should ever face. Silently I am bearing this grief of my daughter. It is an unspoken knowing between my husband and I.Our other kids are growing up and they both spend time crying just wanting things to be normal again. So between that and serving not much time to let it all out. Thats kind of what I’m doing. I just keep reading that poem I need it so much. I listend to “Lauras Song” found such grace from it. Ok enough back to work.

  • Colleen Thompson

    LA, words here seem impotent compared to the pain you have expressed. I wish it were possible to just sit with you, let you cry because everything you said is filled with pain. I am so sorry people have been brutal and ugly and harsh and…I am so sorry. I will NEVER understand cruelty or those who are mean; and I know Jesus was hit with it too so He understands better than anyone does. Sometimes that helps and sometimes it doesn’t. You mentioned your daughter’s beauty… LA, the truth is that your daughter is beautiful! She is okay…okay because Jesus made her exactly as He was okay with her being…He sees nothing “wrong” with her-this world may; but this world is terribly broken and shattered. Whether it be your daughter or my son…any person on earth is FIRST created by our perfect creator and NEXT encapsulated in a form that is broken because earth is broken. We are born into it…all of us. The truth is that our sorrow is magnified when we try to make this earth and all its junk more like heaven. It’s never going to be. So, we have to sit with our beautiful children who the world rejects and remember that Jesus endured the same so He understands it all. Our beautiful children show us the message Jesus came to give…this isn’t our home and it’s going to be tough until we are there. But when we accept that, the rest falls into place-we are free-free of false wishes, free to be okay with being different, free to love without condition, free to live in grace and mercy. And you know what happens, there is a compassion that falls over you because you know freedom and are grieved as others remain bound to this world’s whatever. It sounds impossible, especially when grief is thick. But I am going to pray that you will be comforted as only God can comfort; that you will see your daughter as courageous and enduring and accepted; that other’s will see you become strong because God has filled you with His strength and truth. And that you will remember how incredible you are for having been through so much and are still striving to be real. I’m having to work through a lot of forgiveness and letting go as well; some of it is impossible for me to do but I trust Jesus and all His grace to fill me with His strength as He promises to do. LA, please simply say “Jesus, I can’t do this but you can so I fall into your hands and ask you to carry me through, to do what is right, to let go and forgive, and accept life here until we are all united in heaven.” Please stay in touch. Thank you for your note. Colleen

  • LA

    So I am at Youth camp as a Pastor’s wife and leader, feeling like GOd has just touched me in the most sweet way that He can. Never is the difference more glaring than here. But here is what He gave today. Isaiah 54:11 oh, afflicted one lashed by storms and not comforted. I will build you with precious stones…..down to verse 13…and great will be your childrens peace.
    Only have a moment but thank you!!!

  • Colleen Thompson

    LA!!! Delighted to hear from you! WOW, what insight. God is at work in you; the hardest part is to be still and quiet and listen to HIS voice. I think you are on your way. Colleen

  • Ann Holmes

    O, my, Colleen! I connect with this on so many levels! Thanks so much! Have a blessed day!

    • Ann,
      I think anyone of us who go through deep suffering can relate….and at some point, we all do, don’t we. Thanks so much for your kind words and continued comments here. I love hearing from you. Have a blessed day. Colleen

  • Missy Wang

    Colleen
    You always post something I need to hear at the right time . I know that waiting room scene very well. Both from my son and myself . Came across some roadblocks or mountains I should say and just sunk my heart quick this past week. One of those times I’m burned out and tired of this particular journey . It’s a never ending wait game. God has really been working these last 24 hrs with me . Constant reminders to keep my head and eyes where they belong . In his word and with him. Your post really hit . From memories to knowing what it is I need to do. I hate when defeat gets the upper hand . Well I say Satan away from me . God has me and my child . Thanks for your post Colleen .

    • It’s so good to hear from you! I’ve missed connecting on Facebook but want to have folks connect here-so I’m thrilled to hear from you! I so understand. I’m currently in a similar place…wondering what God’s “next step” is yet also feeling burned out in life. I understand my friend, I really do. One thing I noticed you wrote was “it’s a never ending waiting game”…and I wanted to follow up with asking what you are waiting on. Waiting on….? I’ve had to adjust my expectations, reframe my current circumstances like you have done many times I’m sure. It helps to know what we are waiting for…sometimes it’s as easy as a phone call back from the doc; other times it’s so ambiguous we feel frustrated but can’t nail down where the feelings are coming from.
      Yes, this summer specifically, I had to deal with the enemy directly…the one who wants us to believe lies, is known as the ‘acusser’ in certain passages…so many things we think habitually can set us up for disaster. I want you to know I think you are an incredible woman, mother, wife; enduring and working so hard to honor the Lord in your life. That is the purity of heart that God see’s and I see it as well. I hope this is encouraging…you are always welcome to write and say whatever you need to get out. Let me know how I can help or what you are needing…I’m here to support you! Colleen

      • Missy Wang

        Colleen this post came to mind last week and I realized your question to me was ” What was I waiting for?”. Think I finally answered it . I’ve been waiting for this to all end . Like a bad dream. It’s never ending and demand is hard . I’m still waiting for that miracle that never comes . Going through the years I’m adjusting but there is still a piece of me waiting ….. wanting the Thorn in my side to be pulled out . But knowing it won’t happen till I die or our savior comes soon . Someday he will let me know what this is all about but until I wait.

        • My dear friend, Missy,
          It is so refreshing to hear from you always. How I appreciate your honest reflections, trusting me with hearing your longings and disappointments in this life. Your words resonated deep within my soul; I have been there so many times. In fact, today I was having a bit of a pity party…the endless needs of my son, his illnesses that continue, confusion in thinking, needs and longings he has will not be actualized unless the Lord allows, and more. You get it! For many years, I didn’t realize my ‘advocacy’ for him was about trying to “fix” or “get back” to what I was used to…the normal I had before disabilities entered my life. In many ways, the demands, chronic conditions caregivers encounter, endless needs, legal requirements, driving to all appointments….oh you know the story well. So I understand you…the exhaustion, the sorrow, the pearl still being formed from the irritation of gritty sand in the clam’s shell. I was just talking with a friend yesterday about praying for healing with full trust that Christ indeed can heal mixed with the exhaustion and doubt that can seep in when He chooses otherwise. Scripture tells us Paul prayed three times…it doesn’t say he ONLY prayed three times. I believe we are told of three specific occasions, and I believe he-like us-may have groaned, whispered, wept, and quietly called upon the Lord continually. It’s in these moments we long for heaven, just as Paul longed for heaven. This world is so removed from anything requiring endurance; a perseverance that is eternally focused. As a result, our discomfort is often elevated because it seems like life is so easy for everybody else. The enemy would love for us to believe that; that our lot in life is the worst and God allowed the worst so it’s God’s fault. When actually, the enemy introduced the worst and God longs for us to reach for Him in every moment. If the enemy gets us to get mad at our creator and sovereign Lord, it opens the door for distortions and doubts in our thinking. I only know this because I battle it often. Even if we are never given a reason ‘why’-as Job wasn’t offered answers-it doesn’t mean the Lord leaves us guessing. He just wants us to trust and depend. Those two choices are somedays the hardest of all to make. Perhaps the word “waiting” can be replaced with “learning”…learning to live in today, learning to be still while our questions remain unanswered, learning to lean and to rest when we are ‘done’. None of this is easy, what I like, comfortable, fun…sometimes I just hate it. However, God already knows so I just chat with Him and find there is so much more learning He has for me and He understands I’m a slow learner in these big areas of life. You are in great company, my friend. How I would love to hug you today and say… “You are a treasure”. I hope this encourages you today. Colleen

          • Missy Wang

            Thank you

          • Missy, how are you doing? Hope the weekend provides some time to rest. I did speak to someone I’m interviewing next week about handling all of life’s unexpected challenges and she said… “It’s one day at a time.” So I have practiced today saying, “Lord, I trust you”; I’ve repeated it many times.
            For us all, it just helps to remember we aren’t promised tomorrow and to try and stay in this moment. I’m with you, girl, it’s tough when the responsibilities are so demanding and unrelenting. Let me know how things are coming along when you have time. So good to connect with you! Colleen

  • Juan Garcia

    Great poem, to the point. I’m reminded of Psalm 23, “…He makes me lie down…”. In my “waiting room” He is drawing me so much closer to Himself, to His truth and healing. I’ve missed Him all these years.

    • Juan,
      WOW…what a comment. Most of us resist having to slow down, but you sound like you have welcomed it like a splash of cold water on a blistering hot day. Isn’t it amazing that our God, the creator of the universe, has so much love for you that He has placed you in His perfect care and peaceful rest. So wonderful to hear you are delighting in our Lord and Shepherd. Would love to know what you learn as you rest. Colleen