by Barb Hill
One of the reasons we anxiously ruminate on a thought is because we are trying to “close the loop”, or find a place of resolve.
It reminds me of when someone is playing the piano, and the song seems to end on a note that leaves the audience in a suspended state. This is actually called resolution in music. It’s when the musician moves from a note of dissonance to a consonance, (a final or stable-sounding one). It’s not until the pianist hits that final sounding note that our ears can rest, and we feel satisfied as the melody resolves.
Whenever we’re waiting for something important in our lives, it’s as if we’re existing within that suspended state. We’re longing for the next note to sound to bring resolve to our stories. While we’re waiting, what we tell ourselves about our lives is deeply important. Oftentimes, we aren’t even aware of the narratives that run on a constant loop in our minds. As a therapist, so much of the work I do revolves around shining a light on these stories, and helping clients engage them with curiosity and compassion.
Brené Brown says,
“Storytelling helps us all impose order on chaos—including emotional chaos. When we're in pain, we create a narrative to help us make sense of it. This story doesn't have to be based on any real information….It’s this unconscious storytelling that leaves us stuck.”
There is a unique pain we feel when we’re waiting to receive or experience something important to us. This pain compels us to fabricate stories in our minds to try and ease the discomfort we feel. If you’re waiting for direction and guidance, a financial breakthrough, a physical or emotional healing, a restored relationship, a baby, a job, or a spouse, what stories have you been telling yourself about it? Perhaps stories about God’s character, your worth, and the probability that God would want to come through for you.
I’m reminded of the story in Matthew 8:1-3 about the man with leprosy that approached Jesus for healing.
“After Jesus came down from teaching on the hillside, massive crowds began following him. Suddenly, a leper walked up to Jesus and threw himself down before him in worship and said, “Lord, you have the power to heal me . . . if you really want to.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper and said, “Of course I want to heal you—be healed!” And instantly, all signs of leprosy disappeared!”
For this man, his questions weren’t centered on God’s ability to heal him, but rather His desire. This provides us insight into the stories he was most likely telling himself. Stories that cast doubt on God’s kindness, and whether he truly cared to heal him. Stories about whether he was worth finding an audience with God.
Pay attention to the questions you ask, because they will reveal the stories you tell yourself. I love how Jesus so kindly allays this man’s fears by simply saying “Of course I want to heal you.” This was Jesus’ gentle way of correcting the stories he had been telling himself .
When we find ourselves in this suspended state of waiting, with all its tension and discomfort, we need an outlet to channel and challenge all the stories that are circulating in our minds. As I’ve navigated my own seasons of waiting, and stepped into the ache of other’s, I’ve found one thing to be particularly helpful.
On a piece of paper, draw one column and write down all the things you are afraid of that are causing you to run like a hamster on its wheel getting nowhere fast. In the second column, write all the things you know to be true, as it relates to what you are afraid of. You might be afraid of the uncertainty and unknowns that come with waiting, so in the next column, remind yourself of what you do know and are certain of. You might be afraid of a conflict with a friend of family member you have tried to resolve, so in the next column, recall the responsibilities you have taken so far to repair the relationship, and any outstanding opportunities that may belong to you.
Even when we are waiting, and circumstances are outside of our control, there is a resting place within what we know to be true. Let the stories you tell yourself while you wait be ones that reflect the truth of who you are, and God’s willing heart of love towards you.
1. As you have waited, have you struggled more with God’s desire or ability to provide?
2. What stories have you been telling yourself about your waiting experience?
3. What new story can you tell yourself that aligns with truth rather than uncertainty?
Barb Hill is a Licensed Mental Health Therapist based out of Nashville, Tennessee. She holds a Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, with a specialty in trauma. She has a private practice called Holding Space Counseling, where she works with individuals and couples. When she isn’t writing or seeing clients you can find her sitting at coffee shop with a friend, writing, traveling, or walking her sweet pup, Nash. Follow her on Instagram.