“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him” (Psalm 34:8).
I have heard it said that the world is a waiting room for Christians. We wait here until our spot in heaven is ready for us. The argument could be made that our mission here is to wait well.
The doctor’s office. Even before I was a teenager, I developed a healthy distaste for it. Each office has a designated waiting area. Depending on the news you expect to receive, the tiny room with uncomfortable chairs and air conditioning that is too cold can either be just another room—or the last stop on a train heading for a life change.
The argument could be made that our mission here is to wait well.
In my way of thinking, the only thing worse than enduring the waiting room—at a doctor’s office and in life—is having to experience it alone.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis—curvature of the spine—when I was 11. My mom, being the diligent researcher she is, did not want to accept a diagnosis until enough doctor opinions matched one another. She felt there was something at stake if we settled for the first diagnosis and prognosis. For the entire summer of 2005, I was shuttled to different doctor appointments, some with pediatric surgeons, others with orthopedic specialists.
Throughout this time, I did not know what to feel or even what to be afraid of. I simply had to lean into the one who was shuttling me back and forth.
One appointment was in San Diego.
I was upset I had to go in the first place. This was the third appointment since my initial diagnosis, and in my estimation, each appointment brought me closer to the operating table.
As I climbed into our pickup truck to endure the long drive to San Diego with my mom, I thought there was a chance she would not notice if I decided to just stay home.
I squashed this idea and buckled in. But I was nowhere near prepared for the long day ahead of me.
Long drive. Even longer wait in the waiting room. We sat in the waiting room for hours. We watched patients come in, sit down, get called back and then leave, all while my name was never called. I remember looking at one family who was there with their daughter. She had scoliosis like me, but she was post-op. She held her corrective brace in her hands and her parents told what I’m guessing was supposed to be an encouraging story about their daughter’s road to surgery and recovery.
I was not encouraged. Their words struck fear in my heart already rattled by nerves. I turned away and refused to listen to more.
While the family continued to talk to the other patients waiting to be seen, my stomach rolled and I was sure I was about to bore a hole through the door with my eyeballs. This door was the dividing line between my life as it was—as crooked as it may have been—and what my life could potentially be. I could not see past the possible surgery ahead of me.
I told myself if I could just be OK with living my life in that waiting room, then I would be fine. I would not have to go to the exam room, I would not have to see how curved my spine was, I would not have to endure anymore pain or discomfort on any level.
I could have stayed and continued to wait, but I knew I would feel trapped. We needed answers, my mom and I.
The moment finally came. My name was called. The long wait was over. At some point I had convinced myself I had to move in order to get to the other side, a time when this condition would no longer be an issue. I had to choose to live.
Loneliness feels like a long stay in the waiting room of life. But instead of waiting well, you feel strapped to the chair you occupy.
By no means was I lonely in that waiting room in San Diego. Though I was not talking or interacting with her at all, I had my mom. I had her presence. That was enough for me. My faith was in her ability to communicate to the doctors and nurses what I could not communicate myself.
Now, at 25, the illustration of waiting in that room feels real and lonely. I feel I have done something to deserve this station in life though the rational and faithful side of me tells me otherwise. When I was 11, my mom’s presence was enough to keep me from loneliness. Now, in my philosophical waiting room, God’s mere presence is no longer enough, and I must break my silence. I have to talk to Him, share with Him how I am doing. I have to force my heart to remember that God is my companion—all while feeling generally unfeeling toward Him.
Because the reality has to set in at some point. I did not do anything to deserve this, and the chair I occupy in my waiting room is not a punishment. It is not because God wants to prevent me from messing anything else up beyond repair. It is a simple season of waiting. In the meantime, the enemy would love to sidetrack me. He would and does take great pleasure in knowing he can use my own loneliness as a tool against me.
So why does it leave me feeling like God is not enough for me?
I am in fellowship, I am reading my Bible daily, I am talking to Him and praying every day, I take all my questions to Him, I do my best to obey Him.
Why do I always feel like nothing is enough to fill the voids inside?
While my heart and my brain know He is enough for me, the need is still there, and left unmet it leaves me feeling alone.
When senses are overwhelmed with the mayday message flashing a big red sign that reads “ALONE,” what truth is there in which I can seek solace? How do I know it will fill the voids even in the smallest way and for the smallest amount of relief?
In Isaiah 65, the prophet called God the “God of truth” (verse 16). It says in 1 John 4:7 that “God is love.”
That is truth. It is taken straight from the Word of God.
If loneliness is a season of waiting, not a punishment or God’s way of sidelining us for a while, what can we learn here? What can we hold to?
Just as I had to hold to my mom’s presence when I was 11, I have to hold to God’s presence in my waiting room of loneliness as He tells me to wait well. As I sit here, desiring more in one simple area of my life, I realize that God is actively working things out in every other area.
This season, while difficult, has caused His work in my life to become more evident. It has boosted my faith, reminding me that He is working in every moment.
In the doctor’s waiting room, I had to convince myself that on the other side of that door was something I needed—a straight spine. Sure, it would take time, but it would lead to that ultimate conclusion.
In the same way, I have to believe that beyond this waiting room is something God knows I need. Every single day I knock on the door, just to make sure He has not forgotten about me. Every single day, He assures me He is still perfectly aware of where He has me. Every single day, I muster the courage to keep trying.
He is in control. He is my companion. He is my faithful healer. He knows my needs. His Word is true. He always has a purpose.