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Not Yet – Dealing with Delayed Gratification



In a world where we can get food delivered in a click, a new car delivered to our driveway without ever leaving the house and now working from home a new normal – how do we deal with waiting? How do we handle things that don’t happen “yet”?


What happens to us in the waiting periods of our lives? What happens when we don’t get what we want right now? How does it change how we feel and act when we have long range plans that take years to achieve?


Accomplishing something that takes years to achieve or buying something we’ve been saving for is incredibly rewarding, yet we feign the waiting. Years ago, as a mom of small children, I couldn’t wait to sleep through the night. It felt like it took forever for them to not wake me up. Now they are about to go off to college and it has gone way too fast. A wise woman once said, the days are long but the years are short. As a mom, these words have never been more true.


So what is it about waiting or the “not yet” of our lives that is so difficult to bear? Helen Keller once said, “We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” So does that mean that because of trials, difficulties and trauma that test our patience? Does it take courage to be patient?


I like how Barbara Johnson says, “Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” This is more like what I feel when I have to exercise the “not yet” in my world. It feels uncomfortable. It feels unnatural, or out of pace. It feels like I’m getting off the carnival ride while everyone else gets to ride on while I watch.


Not Yet. There are a few things I’ve learned to do in the waiting that make it bearable and help me to strengthen my character in the patience I’m learning.


Gratitude. I must be grateful for what I have and where I am, regardless of the “not yet” that I don’t have or that I’m waiting for. Whether it's in the daily practice of a journal, thank you notes, meditation or prayer, practicing gratitude can help us idle in the waiting with a positive mindset.


Be in the moment. Be where your feet are. Scott O’Neill recently wrote a book by that title “Be Where Your Feet Are” giving us 7 principles for being present in the moment. If we can be more intentional in today, in the moment, then we are not dwelling on the “not yet” that we don’t have for the future. Being in the now keeps us firmly planted on what actions I can have today.


Adjust your focus. There are times when it's good to get up on the roof, as Mark Batterson says and “look long”. There are also times that it is good to come back down to street level and look short. When we are in a “not yet” state, take time to meditate on looking long. What are life aspirations, what are life goals? Sometimes looking at the big picture at a higher view can help the fixation on the “not yet”. If it’s a “not yet” that has been a long wait, then shorten the focus to this week, this month and just be where your feet are to relieve the pressure of it.


Be brave and be hopeful. Expect good to come. It takes courage in today’s world to have a hopeful expectation of good to come. In a world that is negative and divisive, we get to choose to be positive and uplifted in our mindset. Go against the current and take the path that says that the season will change and new things will come. Not yet will be here before you know it. It's also possible that it is a not yet that you could have never imagined to be so good.


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