3 Lessons We Learn While Waiting

This is an excerpt from my book, The In-Between, which you can order wherever books are sold. Find out more here.

I’ve spent my whole life longing for the next season, hoping better things would come when I graduated or got married or gave my life to a career worthy of my talents.

Perfect moment

But now, I’m not sure holding out for what’s to come is the smartest strategy. And I have a feeling I’m not alone.

We all want to live meaningful lives full of experiences we can be proud of. We want a story to tell our grandchildren. But many of us fail to recognize that the best moments are the ones happening right now.

The best time of your life

Maybe the good stuff isn’t ahead of or behind us. Maybe it’s somewhere in between. [Tweet that]

Maybe what we call “mundane,” what feels boring and ordinary, is really how we spend our lives. And we have an opportunity to make of it what we will — to resent its lack of adventure or rejoice in the beauty.

Perhaps, the abundant life we’ve been seeking has little to do with big events and comes in a subtler form: embracing the pauses in between major beats.

Real life doesn’t always happen like we see stories unfold in books or on the big screen. It doesn’t feel like an adventure most of the time. In fact, it can sometimes seem rather boring.

And as hard as we try to make it so, we are still occasionally stuck with less-than-remarkable moments. So what do we do with those?

What we learn when we embrace the wait

What if, instead of pining for the next big moment, we surrendered to the wait? Learning to live in those so-called “boring” times with more intentionality?

What if we fell in love with the in-between, relishing the interruptions instead of resenting them? We might learn a few lessons:

  1. Slow down. If we wait for the experiences of a lifetime, we may miss the life in our experiences. It’s impossible live in the past or  future; all we ever have is now. We might as well take our time.
  2. Let go. Whenever we get stuck at a stop light, stalled in a checkout line, or put on hold with customer service, we must remember: all of these are signs telling us we are not in control.
  3. Be grateful. You can’t get to from Point A to Point B without going on a journey. We must learn to appreciate the space in between those two points. It’s where we grow.

Most growth happens slowly, over time. You don’t see it happening, but one day you wake up, amazed at how far you’ve come.

When it comes to waiting, we have a choice: we can try to bypass the delays and inconveniences or embrace them as our greatest opportunities for growth.

This is an excerpt from my book, The In-Between, which you can order wherever books are sold. Get a free chapter here.

What lessons do you learn from waiting? Share in the comments.

49 thoughts on “3 Lessons We Learn While Waiting

  1. I just ordered the book, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to diving into it. It is so easy to always be looking forward that we do not see and enjoy where we are.

  2. I will be ordering the book today and look forward to reading it! I know this is something that I need in my life because I seem to always be focused on the past or the future.

    I need to learn how to live in the moment and appreciate being there! I have read other books on this subject but maybe this book will be the turning point for me to find that sweet spot!

    One Life / One Legacy
    Thomas Joe

      1. Just ordered it on my kindle and so looking forward to reading it! Just finished reading “You Are a Writer” and loved it…awesome golden nuggets for me to digest! Talk Soon, Aloha

  3. I stumbled across a few verses in Acts that said 12 YEARS passed from the conversion of the Apostle Paul before he began his missionary journey. I wonder what he would say about the in-between. Thank you for making us notice it.

  4. What great wisdom, Jeff. Waiting has always taught me that ultimately I Am Not In Control, and really, that is a good thing. It’s easy to see your dream job and get frustrated and bitter because you’re not there yet. But there’s a harvest in the waiting, and your post is a great reminder to be grateful for that.

  5. It seems you know just what to write on the exact day. I am struggling with the “in-between” also. Thank you. Because of this post, I have ordered the book and am excited to read the wisdom that you have to give to this. Thank you for writing.

  6. Too often we’re in a rush, always running. Waiting and embracing the “In Between” refreshes us and helps us see things clearer. Really excited for this book Jeff. You’re always an inspiration.

  7. Just came to this realization this weekend. I’ve been waiting to go back “home”, but that time may never come, and I have to live here and now.

  8. I grew up in small town (less than 300 pop.) and I grew up always looking to the future. Things will be great when I move away, go to school, etc etc.

    But all we have is right now, this is all we get. Love it, Jeff. Can’t wait for the book man!

  9. Jeff, I’ve been amazed how being grateful has enabled me to better appreciate the wonder in every moment. But like everything, it takes practice.

  10. I am in an “in between” season right now. We sold our house and landed in an apartment in remarkable time and are “in between” whatever is next. You are right. You see how you need to be grateful and thankful and you have to internally look at yourself hard to see what you need to let go of and what you need to hold onto.


  11. I feel like I’m always in the “in between”, like you used to be – always waiting for the next thing. I’ve tried to slow down and cherish the moments as they come, but it’s easier said than done sometimes. Marking this to read over and over.

  12. Looking forward to gleaning more wisdom and inspiration from your new book. I am learning that my waiting seasons are definitely my deepest growth seasons.

  13. A study was conducted into the role of experienced police officers and escalation of street violence. The result found that when an argument was ensuing a younger officer would be keen to get stuck in and sort the problem out. The study found this tended to make the situation worse. The interesting thing was experienced officers tended to wait and let the situation play out a bit longer and found levels of street violence reduced as a result.

    Sometimes waiting can lead to the best outcome!

    Aaron Morton
    The Confidence Lounge

    1. Very interesting. Malcolm Gladwell talks about this tension between intuition and taking your time in Blink. I thought it was interesting. Sometimes, acting our instincts doesn’t lead to the best decisions (and of course, in certain situations, it definitely does). Sometimes, the best route is to take our time. Fascinating stuff.

  14. Very timely for me, Jeff. I’ve wanted to try my hand at freelancing for some time but with two small children, it doesn’t seem like now is the right time. I’m “in-between”! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh, man. I know that tension. Hang in there, Lindsey! And try to be present to where you are right now. It’s a gift. And it’s all we have.

  15. Slow down. Let go. Be grateful. I like that. I also like your book trailer on your book site – it’s fantastic! I’m sure the book is also fantastic. All the best with it Jeff.

  16. Great post, Jeff. And, by the way, love The In-Between. It’s so good.
    I’m learning that waiting helps me realize I’m not in control and God is. It’s a lesson I’m contantly learning.

  17. After I sprained and misaligned my knee, I couldn’t do anything and that bothered me. After a week of pining about my boring at home existence, I decided that I was going to take this opportunity to learn and do things I never had time to do before. I learned that painting wasn’t hard if you have time, patience, and inspiration. I always wanted to pursue writing, but thought long and hard about it. My personality would rather be enjoying life with those around me; writing can be lonely. So, I ruled it out. I learned that although I love learning about neuroscience, I don’t want to pursue this for a living. I learned about WW2, Nazi UFOs, weapons of war, and conspiracy. I learned about the evil Koch brothers and how they are a huge reason why our world is messed up. I’ve read books and I read biographies about my favorite authors and inspirational people. I learned how to eat healthy, how I could concentrate better in school, and overcome my depression. I have learned more in the last two months in my life, than the last year. This experience, although at times was bleak and painful, was a necessary catalyst for growth. I learned that I need to make more time doing things I enjoy. I need to work less and spend less on things I don’t need. I realize I need to go back to school to get the job I want. I found I new excitement for life, and learning is my passion. I think doing nothing is one of the most productive things I have done in a long time. It creates freedom that most people work hard to give themselves. What they don’t realize, is that freedom is at their fingertips. Do less, get more out of life.

  18. Nice post Jeff,
    The way we perceive time is an illusion. The past is immutable and the future is in constant flux. The only thing we have is this moment right now. So often we get stuck pinning for a past that never was and a future that may never come that we lose sight of what’s happening in the present.

  19. In my life, thinking about “next” usually indicates my dissatisfaction with the “now.” I’m learning to live now so I don’t have to wait for next.

  20. Thanks for another great post Jeff. The oldest wisdom is the best. I think it’s important to also accept that we may not be in between at all too, for example, if you have an incurable disease but are forever ‘waiting’ for a cure/healing, acceptance of the moment is as vital as living in the moment. There’s a wee typo in lesson one btw. Looking forward to reading it – enjoyed all your work and books so far – thanks again 😉

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