Class Notes for Life Skills #4 – Waiting

Quotations to Prime the Pump

“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5 NLT
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5, 6 NLT


“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.” Simone Weil


“A waiting person is a patient person. The word ‘patience’ implies the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Impatient people expect the real thing to happen somewhere else, and therefore they want to get away from the present situation and go elsewhere. For them the moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are.” Henri Nouwen


“We don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find . . . is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. Even if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other side of the continent, we find the very same problem awaiting us when we arrive. it keeps returning with new names, forms, and manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us: Where are we separating ourselves from reality? How are we pulling back instead of opening up? How are we closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter?” Pema Chödrön


“We dare not get rid of the pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. . . . Fixing something doesn’t usually transform us. We try to change events in order to avoid changing ourselves. We avoid God, who works in the darkness–where we are not in control! Maybe that is the secret: relinquishing control. We must learn to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning.” Richard Rohr


“Waiting for clarity of call, waiting until God shows us the next right step, waiting for the Spirit to go ahead of us to light the way. When it’s not clear to us what is invited, we wait, watch and pray. And we trust that sometimes the Spirit is working just fine without us, as much as we’d like to help. There’s an art to the waiting, I’ve learned. Wait expectantly without expectations. Watch for what wants to unfold now, not for what I want to unfold. Pray that I may see what is being invited without imposing what I think would be the best solution. Waiting is not passive and disinterested. Waiting is not turning away. Waiting is an active, prayerful stance, a time of alert openness, a space of listening from mind-in-heart. . . . ” Leah Rampy


“Another will is greater, wiser and more intelligent than my own. So I wait. Waiting means that there is another whom I trust and from whom I receive. My will, important and essential as it is, finds a Will that is more important, more essential. . . . in prayer we are aware that God is in action and that when the circumstances are ready, when others are in the right place and when my heart is prepared, I will be called into action. Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” Eugene Peterson

Questions for Discussion

  1. Which quote really affected you (convicted, provoked, challenged, etc.)? Talk about that.
  2. Do you “hate to wait?” Why is that?
  3. How do you know when you’ve waited long enough?

  • REMEMBERING APPLICATION:
  • Moving From Head to Heart,
  • Moving From Words to Deeds,
  • Moving from Self-love to Love of God and Others

  1. After this discussion, is there something specific, measurable, and realistic that you are going to practice in order to develop “waiting” as a new skill?
  2. How does the practice of waiting, as you understand it, make you more able to be a person who loves well (who practices compassion and justice)?

The quotes from this week come from Wisdom From the Margins*: 2-25, 3-4, 4-7, 4-14, 6-3, & 6-14 *This is the book we will use for this discussion. If you can, try to read one reading daily in the book (perhaps the reading for that calendar day, or the ones here in italics).


For further consideration (to do before or after the session)

Three possible ways to go deeper:

(1) Set aside at least 10 minutes, find a quiet place, settle yourself with some deep breathing, and read through these words slowly, phrase by phrase, asking God to make clear to you what you need to hear most. (Maybe write that down on a 3.5 card.)

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some states of instability–and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually–let them grow, let them shape themselves without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you. And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


(2) If you’re looking for a specific way to practice waiting, this is something you could start to work on–waiting for the other person to continue talking instead of jumping in to take your turn! Oy! FOTFL.


“When a pro interviewer feels a subject is holding something back on a particular topic, they’ll often use the power of silence at the end of the answer to draw out more information. Here’s how journalist Jim Lehrer describes it: ‘If you resist the temptation to respond too quickly to the answer, you’ll discover something almost magical. The other person will either expand on what he’s already said or he’ll go in a different direction.’ try counting to three–or five if you can stand it–after your subject answers a tough or thoughtful question. This method can seem agonizing at first, but–used with empathy–it works wonders to develop a deeper rapport between two people. . . . of course we’d all like to think of ourselves as attentive, curious students of the world, but one little thing gets in the way: our own egos. it’s not our fault–we’re hardwired that way. After all, talking about ourselves feels as good to our brains as money or sex. That’s why ego suspension is so essential to cultivating the kind of curiosity that lets you connect with others. Robin Dreeke . . . explains: ‘Most times, when two individuals engage in a conversation, each patiently waits for the other person to be done with whatever story he or she is telling. Then, the other person tells his or her own story, usually on a related topic and often times in an attempt to have a better and more interesting story. Individuals practicing good ego suspension would continue to encourage the other individual to talk about his or her story, neglecting their own need to share what they think is a great story.” Courtney Siete


(3) If these prayers resonate, try praying either or both of them through the week:

Abba, help me walk rather than race, receive rather than grasp, and relax rather than strive. Help me step into the flow of your divine life rather than living a frenzied version of my very human life. Help me focus on being with you and leave the results to you.

Abba, keep me from moving on before what you’re doing manifests itself. Cure me of impatience (my hurried self), impulsivity (my thoughtless self), and anxiety (my fearful self).


If this discussion sounds like something you might be interested in, please contact me for more details. (Bill @ wm_britton@mac.com) Also, if you’re in a completely different time zone and you’re interested, also please let me know, since a second gathering time, designed for people in the Eastern hemisphere may be possible. (If you know of someone for this, please let me know.)

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