The In-Between Places
The in-between places – the waiting places. We’ve all been there in one form or another. It’s inevitable to the human condition.
Some waiting places are excruciating – places where life and death hang in the balance. Those of us who have waited by the bedside of friends or family who are ill or hurt know the difficulty in this kind of waiting: waiting for the results of medical tests, the need for a surgery, the time to fight, the time to let go.
Some waiting places are exciting – places where there are forks in the road and/or new beginnings: waiting for the birth of a child or grandchild, waiting for the date of a favorite concert, to get notice that you’ve been hired, to get the results of that final exam, waiting your turn to walk across the stage to get your diploma.
We all know the waiting places that are exasperating; doctor’s offices, Departments of Motor Vehicles, grocery lines, movie lines, unemployment lines and all those other lines that stand in front of us and our destination or mission.
I have learned lessons by waiting that can’t be learned anywhere else:
- Patience – Patience can only be exercised and learned by waiting and not by the instant gratification that we all desire.
- Empathy – Empathy is learned for others who are waiting in a state of concern, fulfillment of a dream, etc.
- Trust/Faith – I often turn to God in trust and faith in the in-between places. I believe He is always by my side, and while I wait is a great time to give thanks for my blessings. Using my faith muscle, like any other muscle, strengthens it.
What kind of person are you in the in-between places? In other words, how do you react to waiting? Here are some of the types I’ve noticed:
- Quiet/occupied – This person has learned that waiting is inevitable and has found ways to make the most of that time: they read, write, pray, meditate, daydream, plan, and listen, for a few examples.
- Irritated/impatient – This person always wants to be first in line. They have some kind of entitlement mentality that says, “Me first,” just like on the playground. They have yet to enter the adult world – at least psychologically. They may sigh, groan and make other barely audible sounds that express their impatience.
- Raging/pacing – One would think this person was about to wet their pants if the waiting doesn’t come to an end. Their sounds of irritation are audible; they pace, complain, and this is why people remark, “If looks could kill.”
I consider myself an expert at the in-between places (not that I navigate them perfectly – I rarely do anything perfectly). I have learned that some processes can’t be rushed, that my position in whatever line I’m in is not negotiable, that there is nothing that entitles me to move forward in the line, that my time will come, and that sometimes it’s best to wait – even lifesaving.
Let me give you an example. This story has nothing to do with waiting in lines, but rather simply waiting. I was tubing with some friends on a local river when my tube got hung up on a branch on the side of the river. I listened to a still, small voice inside that told me to wait, and it proved to be the right thing to do.
Just downstream from me, my friends were coming upon an area called the “Broken Down Dam,” which is exactly what it was. While I was waiting, their tubes were hitting sharp objects and exploding. One friend got pushed into a portion of the broken down dam in a drowning machine, but was somehow magically pushed to the surface at about the time she was about to inhale her first breath of water. She was also nearly impaled by a large spike as she was being pushed down and against the dam.
There I was floating, hung up, riding the river current without going anywhere, in a state of patience. Soon my friends came looking for me along the shoreline, freed me from my predicament and saved me from the dangers of the broken down dam below. I was already a naturally quiet waiter, and perhaps this time it saved my life.
Who are you in those in-between places?