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The Psychology of Waiting

Heinz ketchup had this series of commercials back in the day that showed someone holding the bottle and their ketchup slowly coming out and the music would start playing and you would hear a group singing the word anticipation in a syncopated rhythm. It would be over a hamburger, hotdog or fries and I have to admit, it was very effective. You got the idea that this ketchup was thick and rich and definitely worth waiting for. It also said that you don’t eat this type of food without Heintz ketchup.

Life is full of waiting. It is said that the average person throughout their lifetime spends five years waiting in lines and queues where roughly six months of that is waiting at traffic lights. Yikes!! That’s a lot of waiting. But what would be harder to calculate is how much of the waiting was beneficial or a waste of time.

Is waiting 2 hours for a 7 minute rollercoaster ride worth it? Or how about waiting 24 hours to buy tickets to see your favorite musical group? Or what about 12 hours in the cold for a “Black Friday” deal?

There are some people right now waiting on a marriage proposal; waiting on someone in hospice to die; waiting on results from tests; waiting to hear back from a job interview; or waiting for military personnel to come home.

Probably the greatest wait of our lives would be the times where we find ourselves between a tragedy and a triumph. All you can do is wait. And in that time period where the news reports that the earthquake, hurricane or open shooter is in the direct area of your loved one and you are trying to find out how bad this outcome is for your family. Will we be planning a funeral soon or did I have nothing to worry about. But all you can do is wait. So the logical question is what do we do during the space between a tragedy and a triumph?

Some pray but is God really intervening in issues like this? How do we know? What if this tragedy is the time your loved one was supposed to die? Do we believe God is extending time for some folks? Or others meditate which does nothing for the person in the storm but helps with the waiting. Others worry themselves sick only to find out there was nothing to worry about. Still others become so angry because waiting gives us a cold slap in the face to remind us that we are NOT in control. Waiting helps to develop patience, trust and character. And there are those times when waiting just flat out sucks!

So when you are waiting, spend more time seeing what lessons are in the act of waiting that address your issues. Are you a control freak? Well this may be your lesson in patience. Are you selfish or self serving? Waiting is your way of giving back. Or do you go 100 miles an hour all day for others to the point where you are not taking care of yourself? This may be your time to slow it down and see what you have missed. Whatever the case, waiting is one of life’s favorite venues to teach. Don’t miss your lesson. Embrace the wait!