July 15, 2009

What To Do While Waiting Instead Of Worrying

“Dearest sister of perseverance and patience, may you find the strength to wait. Whether you are waiting for resolutions to annoying small things, stressful important issues, or the anxiety-laden challenges of life, know that your own personal courage and endurance will carry you through and that God will give you wings to soar above the storm” (Ginnie Mesibov). I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD (Psalm 27:13-14). The LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion.

The following is a “program” she eventually developed that helped get them through the waiting times she and her husband encountered that you could also benefit from as you apply these principles while you are in those “waiting room” periods of life. As Ginnie said: I called my program, “What to Do While Waiting Instead of Worrying.”

Here’s what I tried to do:

Focus out. It was natural for me to focus inward. Sometimes I was so preoccupied with my problems that I didn’t hear what someone was saying to me. Listening became a conscious effort. I also became distracted when working. Consequently, I forced myself to become absorbed in my job.

Breathe. Several times a day, I stopped what I was doing and breathed deeply from my diaphragm. I slowly inhaled through my nose to the count of four and exhaled through my mouth to the count of eight. The last four count of breathing out emptied my body of stress.

Relax. In the evening, I found a comfortable spot and lay on my back. I tightened—and then released —each group of muscles one by one, starting with my facial muscles and working down through my neck, arms, back, stomach, thighs, calves, and ending with my feet. This progressive exercise released any tension from each set of muscles.

Take it one day at a time. I tried to live in the present and reminded myself that I can get through this day—or this morning—or this moment. Why should I borrow trouble from either the past of the future? I focused on today.

Increase physical exercise. I increased my morning exercise time by doing a few more limbering stretches. When I went to the gym, I took a brisk walk on the treadmill and made my feet skip for 40 minutes instead of the usual 30.

Get immersed in a good book. There’s nothing like the loves and hates and the tragedies and triumphs of a revered but flawed heroine to take one’s mind off one’s problems.

Do happy or special things. Fine art nourishes my soul.

Be positive. I tried to make the best interpretation of my situation. For example, most of my symptoms had stabilized. It wasn’t inevitable that they would increase over time. And, my husband had had arterial surgery before (quadruple bypass) and survived, showing he has good recuperative powers. There was every reason to hope for a good outcome.

I thanked God every morning for my blessings. I had a loving husband and a delightful dog and everything I needed. As a woman of faith, I was fortified by the promise of the prophet Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).

Don’t put life on hold. I found myself saying, “Let’s not make a date to invite so-and-so to dinner,” or, “Let’s not go here,” or “Let’s not go there,” until we knew my test results or had talked to the doctor. This only made the waiting period more depressing. I decided instead to do what I wanted to do when I could do it.

Don’t over-schedule. Since I decided not to put my life on hold, I was tempted to frantically do all the things I wanted to do before something terrible happened. Once I was worn to a frazzle, I realized that this wasn’t good either. I now strive for balance.

Control highs and lows.

Try not to be angry.

Enjoy nature. God’s creation nourishes my soul.

Be grateful. There are so many people with problems much worse than you.Read or sing a song every day.

Laugh. Man is the only animal who can have a real belly laugh. Laughing is beneficial; it’s good for the lungs, diaphragm, digestion, blood pressure, and immune system.

Watch that diet! I really made myself sick during one particularly stressful waiting period, gorging myself with huge amounts of ice cream, pretzels, and cake. Then I became weak because I couldn’t keep anything in my stomach. All that comfort food didn’t help. I ended up finding comfort in Pepto-Bismol and Imodium! That wasn’t smart behavior. The best diet is three square meals a day with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. And go easy on the snacks. I need strength to cope with waiting.

Accept life as it comes. I have never accepted negative things very well. I always tended to think, “Bad things should not happen.” Not to me. Not to my husband. Not to my dog. Not to my friends. Not to anybody. They should not happen.” That was not realistic. I finally said to myself, “Ginnie, grow up.” It is a sign of maturity to accept what happens to us. Life is difficult. It’s not easy. Bad things do happen. They happen to everybody. But Romans 8:28 is true: “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” The more I accept what comes into my life as being there with God’s permission, the less angry, full of self-pity, and frightened I am and the more peaceful and contended I am during my waiting periods.

Meditate. I set aside a certain time each day to quiet myself, meditate, and pray. Doing this always calms my soul. One time when I was particularly upset and wondering what was going to happen to me, I thought of one of God’s promises: “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).Dear courageous sister, things will—or have already have —come into your life that are hard to bear.

Waiting for information or solutions can cause stress. But knowing that God cares for us and promises hope and a future makes our waiting periods tolerable. During these times, we grow. Our confidence in our own strength increases, as does our trust in our Heavenly Father who works all things out for our good.---Ginnie Mesibov