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I Keep Waiting

I’m well-versed in waiting.

I wait for the perfect moment, or until everybody else has already acted.

In elementary school I waited for people to stop tight-rolling their jeans before I followed suit. In high school I waited to ask a certain girl out until I had full assurance from her friends that her answer would be yes. She said no.

But I also wait because it feels safe and it offers a form of insulation and protection from the life that I want to live, but am afraid to live.

The initial pull of safety and security is eventually met with the sharp realization that this kind of waiting has a deadly outcome. Deadly to dreams. Deadly to relationships. Deadly to any hope you have of living with a sense of adventure.

I’ve used every excuse in my repertoire to convince myself I should stay hidden and safe. And to stay hidden and safe for me means I keep waiting.

In his book, The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield refers to our excuses as part of what makes up the ‘Resistance’. He says, “to yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.” 

When confronted with that statement I am motivated to leave all my excuses behind as I run towards adventure; but that brief moment of unbridled ambition is fleeting. Soon I start thinking about my wife and my kids, the house and the mortgage, the bills and the debt.

I pull up lame and soon I’m nodding my head towards the ‘Resistance’ as if to say “I’m sorry, I’m done dreaming for today.” As I begin my retreat, I gather my deformed and stunted spirit into my arms and settle in to the all-too-familiar safety of waiting.

To wage war with resistance is far more complex and difficult than I could have ever anticipated. It demands a resoluteness that most days I doubt resides within me. It asks me to share that which I hold most sacred, my hopes and dreams. It forces me to face my most capable adversary, myself.

These are the things that keep me waiting.

I wait because it’s not perfect.

I had trouble with the cursive handwriting curriculum in 3rd grade, not because I was incapable, but because I demanded perfection. I can laugh about it now, but it usually went something like this: write, evaluate, erase, re-write, re-evaluate, erase with ferocity and frustration followed by asking for a new piece of paper that wasn’t ripped or smudged all to hell. By the time I was comfortable turning in my sheet full of upper and lowercase A’s my classmates were halfway through the alphabet.

I still find myself waiting for perfection. Before I move forward, before I take a step, before I put myself at risk, I listen to the resistance that says this isn’t perfect. So I wait. I wait until every detail is in order, every image captivating, every web page perfected, and every word written and re-written. I am still attempting to fully uncover where my delusion of achieving perfection as a pre-cursor to beginning comes from.

I wait because of my need for assurance and affirmation.

That’s just a fancy way of saying I’m afraid to fail and I want affirmation that I have what it takes before I begin.

I’ve been on hockey skates since I was 2 and I was a goalie from age 11 through high school. Ironically, the pressure of being a goalie makes it the most ridiculous place for someone who is afraid to fail. I can remember one particular tournament very well. I had led the team to the championship game. It was the night before the big game and my teammates and I were roughhousing in the hotel pool. Our juvenile fun consisted of playing football with a pop can (genius I know). The can eventually broke and the next time I threw it I cut my right index finger. It was a decent cut, but nothing a Band-Aid and some hockey tape couldn’t fix. The next day I convinced myself and our coach that the other goalie would need to play because of my injury.

That decision kept me safe. It assured me of not having to face the potential heartache, criticism and mess of failure.  It also kept me on the bench for the championship game. Fear has a way of doing that; removing you from the places you really want to be and the things you really want to participate in.

I wait because I’d rather get lost than do more work.

Embracing the hard work of creating a meaningful story isn’t easy. We fill our social media feeds with “best of moments,” hoping we notice and grant each other significance. We don’t mention the in-between spaces that fill us with doubt or the hard work and sacrifices to move something from a dream to reality.

The work of pursuing dreams, although meaningful, can seem daunting and endless.

At the end of a long work day, followed by dinner and bedtime routines, there is this incredibly difficult decision to make; get lost or do more work. When faced with that decision I routinely escape to other worlds and adventures (Breaking Bad, The Americans, Parenthood) where I can lose myself in an intriguing story that requires very little of me. I continue in my waiting because I prefer getting lost to doing more work.

So what about you? Do you ever feel stuck in a season of waiting? If you had to identify some specific reasons why you keep waiting what would they be? What hopes and dreams have you put on hold?

Perhaps together we can begin the important work of sharing that which we hold most sacred.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Steve Wiens

    Great writing, Freer! The hockey story was especially delicious. Thanks for this!

    April 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm
    • Reply Aaron Freer

      Thanks for being an incredible encouragement.

      April 30, 2014 at 2:07 am
  • Reply Brea Brown

    This is sooo me! Constantly waiting for the conditions to be ideal to go for what I want. And when I do finally go for it, second-guessing myself and worrying that I didn’t wait long enough. Or worse, realizing that I waited too long, and the perfect moment has passed. Thanks for expressing this personality trait so eloquently and making it recognizable without also making it cringe-worthy. Sometimes we must embrace and accept who we are and work within the parameters of that knowledge.

    April 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm
    • Reply Aaron Freer

      Thanks for reading Brea. Confronting ourselves is often the most difficult kind of work. Here’s to pressing on and into who we are while keeping the door open for who God might be calling us to be.

      April 30, 2014 at 2:02 am
  • Reply Mary Buckentin

    Interesting blog title…especially when I think of Grace as God’s matchless, immeasurable provision reaching me (and you) at my (your) point of greatest need. Throughout your blog I was impressed with the idea that in your waiting you were missing the opportunity to see God at work in the challenges…perfection, as you so creatively described in your cursive writing class, is similar to what the great art masters strived for in their artistic pieces and when they reached it they called it their masterpiece. Their greatest work. They did not back down from the challenge nor the disappointment of failure. Reaching that best work…for Michelangelo – David, for musicians, such as Chopin, Rachmaninov, Beethoven, Mozart – a concerto or prelude… obviously, these men were working in their area of giftedness and somewhere along the way the idea of that perfect piece of art or song came to mind and they pursued it. I’m certain it did not happen in one moment but rather in a series of moments, writing and erasing and scribbling, attempting and putting it off until later…and who is it that decides perfection? The artist or those that receive the work?
    Waiting..or persevering ?
    And one last thought…Are not rhythms rather routine in a way? Especially if you are the student in practice mode? It is sometimes in the routines of life that a dream is realized.

    April 29, 2014 at 10:48 pm
    • Reply Aaron Freer

      Mary, thanks for taking the time to read and to interact with the blog, it’s so good to hear your perspective. The title of my blog "The Rhythm of Grace" comes from Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message) where Jesus asks some questions and then invites us into learning the "unforced rhythms of grace." I want to keep exploring what that unforced rhythm looks like in my life.

      I definitely think God can be and is at work while we face challenges, but this post (for me) was more about the internal battle with self. Similar to the Israelites who "knew" God was at work there was still this beautiful honesty in their story as they confronted the truth that sometimes they waited because they were afriad, or because they didn’t trust, or because they wanted assurances that everything would be OK. That’s me, I am Israel, that’s my story.

      I’m hoping to one day find that area of giftedness like those great artists you mentioned, where even though they faced resistance, they were able as you said, to not back down from the challenge nor shy away from the risk of failing.

      Here’s to hope.

      April 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm
  • Reply Don Genereux

    The art of waiting is just that. An art. It needs to be appreciated as a productive time, a time when our soul changes, grows, and is ready for a new encounter. In those waiting moments, even though sometimes it seems like forever, God is working through it, if we let him. We are all in the waiting time: between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday; between the Resurrection and Pentecost; between Pentecost and the Second Coming. Waiting. And Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the Advocate to be with us, to be God’s presence, to abide with us, so that in our waiting we remember to love God and love one another.

    April 30, 2014 at 8:52 am
    • Reply Aaron Freer

      Don, thank you for reading and for sharing. I love what you closed with, that we would remember to love in the inevitable seasons of waiting that we have. Awesome!

      I think for myself, this season of waiting for me has been full of times where my soul is changing, and preparing me for a new encounter, but part of sharing why I tend to wait is because I think so many of us (me for sure) end up waiting too long to start living into who God has called us to be.

      Thanks for reading and interacting.

      April 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm
  • Reply JoAnn Dearen

    Being older and having lived my life for more than 68 years, it was easy to relate to some of the waiting and fear. I would have to say looking back there were regrets, however none that have still hung on. It is ok to wait, it is ok to fear, it is natural. When God calls us to move, act or react on his behalf we do have a choice, we will be disappointed if we don’t listen and we miss out on blessings, however we will be ok. As far as personal growth we are who we are, we need to believe in ourselves, in what God has given us and hopefully we will blossom in his eyes. The only real life changing moments are realized through our commitment to our Lord and savior. All the rest are missed blessings, unless we are strong enough and brave enough to leap, but in the end we are still ok. If I could say anything to young people about life, I would encourage you to follow Jesus Christ, then live, leap, love. If you have dreams, desires, hopes, make them happen. Life is not a dress rehearsal, live.

    April 30, 2014 at 11:17 pm
  • Reply gigi

    Wrote all this last night and then lost it because of computer user error. I didn’t even wait to see if it was perfect. That was a big feat for me. I think I can answer one question for you. The delusion of having to achieve perfection before beginning comes to you from many places. I’m afraid I have modeled that behavior, not on purpose but I’m sure the message was received loud and clear. Sorry. When you left for college and I changed your room into an art room I was trying to follow a dream, attempting realize a potential I felt within, a creative outlet. I wrote on the walls, filled them with my favorite quotes. R. W. Emerson has the most quotes to date. I even wrote some of my own writing on the walls to try and affirm and assure. I have felt guilty ever since. Especially because the work of every day life got in the way of the painting. It then changed to a writing room, then a yoga room, now a playroom. I now quote a saying that adorns the wall. "In every part of the world, there are people who, at some point in their lives, have the courage to look at themselves in the bright light of honesty. What they see is always wonderful, and always terrifying. Wonderful because their abilities are always greater than they could possibly have realized. Terrifying because to fully claim or reclaim those abilities will require a long journey through self-doubt and difficulty. Some of these people do not turn their backs on this vision of themselves and their ability to grow and to do. They believe it. They achieve it."
    My dearest son,
    You pursue your dreams. This blog is a testament to that. Think of the endeavors you have attempted. Not all have ended as planned and that’s ok. The photography business you and Kate started. The 1st blog writings. The two kids in two years. (A feat some may never know the impact of) The projects of home ownership. The honesty of your instagram messages that cause people to stop and reflect about what true contentment feels and looks like. A Judy Collins song comes to mind. Learn to love the fallow way.

    I just looked up the lyrics in another tab and copied and pasted. This was another big feat for me.
    Look up the lyrics to the whole song, it’s worth the read.
    As sure as time, as sure as snow ( M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A my addition)
    As sure as moonlight, wind and stars
    The fallow time will fall away.
    The sun will bring an April day.
    And I will yield to Summer’s way

    As we say good-bye to April, rest assured May will come.
    The time of waiting for you has come to fruition.
    More words will flow.
    Keep it honest. Keep it real. That’s what makes good writing.
    It is a pleasure to have this conversation with you.

    What am I waiting for? Time? When you make time for something, you HAVE to give up something else.
    What can I give up? What can I let go of to begin a new adventure. Still contemplating that.
    What am I waiting for? Worth? Is is good enough? Still working on that.
    As I try to carve out time and belief in self, please be patient with me. (and others)
    We are all envisioning our highest self and working towards that vision.
    Perfection isn’t the goal, the journey is.

    Happy May Day!

    May 1, 2014 at 12:41 am
  • Reply gigi

    Is it maybe true that the seemingly mundane becomes the sacred. And the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Oh yea and for those who know me I have to "call back because I forgot something"

    May 1, 2014 at 1:06 am
  • Reply Nate Bruns

    I feel like you just wrote the story of my life…my past and my present, but hopefully not my future. Thank you for having the courage to put it out there. It is amazing what we can overcome when we realize we are not alone in a certain struggle. I think we should be friends!

    PS – I almost didn’t write that last sentence due to my fear of rejection. Add that one to the list of fears that keep me waiting!

    May 1, 2014 at 4:05 am
  • Reply Gpa

    My Beautiful Boy,
    What you have described in your blog is a journey many of us have been on and continue to struggle with because "Perfection" is fleeting! I’m guilty!! For today, I just want to let you know that it would be an honor to share in this venture with you, and your voice did not fall on deaf ears in the past… I am a living testament to that. When my faith was particularly challenged a few years ago, god worked his grace, through your words and deed to inspire, challenge and encourage me to keep believing. The day you baptized me will forever resonate in me and remind me of all that is good and relevant in my life. It was also the day the son became the teacher.
    All My Love and Support!

    May 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm
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