Wait and See

by Joanie Butman


I’ve always despised those words. I didn’t like them when I heard them from my parents, and I don’t like them any better today because I’m not a patient person. No one enjoys waiting though some are better at it than others. Ironically, human ‘beings’ are more comfortable doing rather than being. Yet, we spend an inordinate amount of time doing that which so many of us abhor – waiting for trains and planes, waiting in doctor’s offices, waiting for test results, waiting for acceptance letters or job offers, waiting for children, waiting for a phone call, waiting for healing and ultimately, waiting for death. Isn’t everyone waiting for something? How about those doomsday people who exist waiting for the end of the world?


I spent my youth waiting to be older. Now that I am older, I wonder why I was in such a rush. If I thought my age would somehow fill me with wisdom, I was wrong. Age is just a number. It’s everything that happened getting there that taught me about life. I wish I had a dime for every time I uttered these words, “I can’t wait to…” as if whatever I was waiting for would be a panacea which, of course, it never was. There was always something else: "I can't wait to get my license. I can’t wait to be 18, I can’t wait to graduate, I can’t wait to be on my own, I can’t wait to be married, I can’t wait to have children, I can’t wait to lose ten pounds, I can’t wait to get these Spanx off!"

First of all, the statement is ridiculous because, more often than not, we have no choice in the matter. I could and did wait – sometimes more gracefully than others. More importantly, how I chose to do it is what did and continues to determine the quality of my life in the meantime. Do I choose to wait anxiously for something that may or may not happen like the doomsday crowd? Or rather, do I choose to wait peacefully content with today and all it has to offer? It seems like a no-brainer, but occasionally I find myself (and I know I am not alone) falling prey to the impulse to rush ahead of myself.

Life can be an interminable waiting room, which is why it is so important to master the skill of being still. You can’t rush life. It unfolds at its own pace in its own time. It takes a conscious effort (especially when you’re young) to choose to live in the moment. So many of us are tempted to mentally race forward, sacrificing today for tomorrow.


The biggest misconception is that waiting is a passive activity, which it can be if you so choose. But that will make the wait seem longer and all the more tedious. It is my belief that waiting is a time of growth and training. Trust me, I know this from experience and the wisdom of hindsight. It’s a refining process preparing you for what’s to come next. If you need to develop patience (like me), you can bet you will find yourself in situations where you are going to have to exercise it. Isn’t that how you develop any skill or muscle – with lots of practice and vigorous training?


There is no other area where patience is tested more than when you are a patient. Sure, you explore all options and available treatments in order to make informed decisions. However, there comes a time when the only option available is the choice to pray or pout. That is when I realized that God is enough. It is also a lesson the people in Africa illustrated so beautifully during my visits. When you have nothing else, you learn that God is enough. It is that wisdom I choose to cling to regarding my physical health, my mental health and my spiritual health. If I can share it with you, it will make the journey all the more worthwhile.


So, as much as I dislike hearing another ‘wait and see’ diagnosis like the one I received last week, it keeps me right where I need to be: choosing to pray for the ability to be still and peacefully content in all circumstances, open to the joys and lessons each day brings, leaving tomorrow where it belongs while I choose to live in the here and now. I’ll let the doomsday bunch worry about how and when the end will come though I’ve often wondered, “If you just choose to live everyday like it’s your last, what’s the problem?”

Here is a poem I keep taped to my computer as a constant reminder of where to choose to keep my focus and why.

My Name is I AM!


Helen Mallicoat

I was regretting the past

and fearing the future.

Suddenly my Lord was speaking,

My name is I AM.

He paused.

I waited. He continued.

When you live in the past

with its mistakes and regrets,

it is hard. I am not there.

My name is not I WAS.

When you live in the future,

With its problems and fears,

It is hard. I am not there.

My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment,

It is not hard. I am here.

My name is I AM.