Let’s Talk

Fear in the Waiting Room

Q. Why does fear show up when we are waiting for something or someone?

A. Let’s Talk! Fear is an unwelcome guest in the waiting room of life as we face unknowns, for sure! Fear is never invited and stays longer than we’d like. There are ways to lessen its grip on us, though. Fear feels really big, but it is really a “lack of.” Let’s do talk.

Fear shows up when there is a lack of trust, a lack of information, a lack of faith at the moment, or a lack of remembering what’s true. We do have a choice when fear creeps in. We can let fear consume and control us, or we can choose to think on all the things we do know that are true about the situation. We can change that channel!

I had a fear test days ago myself. My little dog, Millie, underwent extensive oral surgery and the waiting-on-the-vet-call was excruciating. At one point in the LONG wait I realized I had let fear control my thoughts. I had let my guard down. But then I reached for my sword of truth (my Bible) and the darkness faded immediately. The grip released. I remembered these truths: Millie was in competent human hands, God was there and could handle any outcomes, and I did not want fear to rule me. When I changed the channel to what I could bank on as true, fear lost.

We can defeat fears that bully their way into our thoughts and emotions. Let’s talk more next week about ways to counter fear as we wait.

For Deeper Reflection

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ . . . .”

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

Let‘s Talk

Your Waiting Room

Q. Why is it so hard to wait on people. . . ?

A. Let’s Talk! A Waiting Room at a doctor’s office or a business office is quite a feast if you are a people watcher, but most people are miserable, waiting. Perhaps waiting on people to act, or change, or move forward is one of the hardest kinds of waiting because it is completely out of our control.

We don’t even like yellow traffic lights, much less red ones. It’s an exposure of our true nature. Two-year-olds show us we don’t like to wait! As we age we learn to cover up our impatience more, but our annoyance with waiting is there. Especially waiting on people.

The remedy? There are a number of truths we can choose to embrace as we wait that do help ease the anxiousness. One is a line I have heard a bunch from author and speaker John Eldredge, “You may be in a bad chapter of your life, but it’s not the whole story.” We need perspective, just like last week’s tapestry story.

An important truth as we wait on people is to use that time to “die” to a desire to control others in our lives. The discomfort of waiting on someone reflects our not having control, but the truth is: It is so unhealthy to try to change or control others. Can you let it go? In past posts we have talked about how control issues kill relationships.

Another truth is that we resist being still (waiting), but that calm is the perfect place to reset, to hear from God, to get clarity, and truth. Dogs wait at the feet of their master, but we resist waiting with every fiber of our being. Could this time of waiting on others to make healthy choices and positive changes even be a gift?

For Deeper Reflection

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God . . .” (KJV).

Psalm 46:10 “Cease striving and know that I am God . . .” (NASB).

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

Simple Patience

In the summer of 1983, my impatience took an ugly turn in the middle of the Congo. In the middle of a missions trip showing the JESUS film in remote villages. (I know you’re jealous of my evening sweat sock attire). Near the end of our trip, I was recovering from a bout of malaria and waited with my teammates for a cargo truck—eleven hours behind schedule because of a flat tire—to take us to a village with a bus headed for the capital city.image0-1_2

Exhausted, sore, and famished, I let the students board the bus ahead of me. Just as I lifted my backpack into the stairwell of the bus, a Congolese woman with a chicken under one arm and a bag strapped on the other wedged her lithe body in front of me. I couldn’t believe her rudeness. Her forceful jostling sparked instinctive fear in me over losing a seat on the bus. I lightly poked my elbow into her back and stammered for words she’d understand in Francophone Africa. I shouted, “Excusez vous!” Not excusez moi, but excuse YOU!

I wanted to scream, “Out of my way-y-y-y-y,” as we twist in a luggage gridlock, but she held a beady-eyed chicken under her arm and gave me a vexing look of a disgruntled witch doctor.

At that moment in that dusty Congolese village, all vestiges of patience drained from my being. But just as quickly as evil thoughts lined up like wallflowers in my head, I sensed God’s calming spirit. I chose to let this stranger board ahead of me, even if it meant I’d be left in the village for another miserable day of waiting.

Thankfully, God saved me a seat that morning, and more importantly, He increased my understanding that waiting refines in us the character of patience. Bit by bit, waiting for people to show up, waiting when we’re literally sick and tired, and waiting when we’re pushed outside our comfort zone can sand off our edginess. Nineteenth-century theologian Horace Bushnell explained, “The greatest and sublimest power is often simple patience.”

Simple patience. Take it from sometimes impatient me, there’s power in standing up to haste and irritability in life’s waits, even if we encounter pushy, poultry-toting strangers.

What trips you up when it comes to staying calm and sensible? How to you handle the times when you want to shout, “Out of my way”?


Adapted from Two Days Longer by Beth Lueders, (Howard Publishing, 2006), pages 112-116.

Brave and Resilient Tip #76: Take time to practice the power of simple patience.

Lord, Have Mercy!

In the classic Seinfeld episode featuring the Soup Nazi, Kramer and Jerry introduce their sidekicks to a tiny New York City deli that serves the grumpy owner’s irresistible soup. Eager to order the scrumptious crab bisque, Elaine nonchalantly saunters up to the deli counter and makes eye contact with the stone-faced owner-chef, dubbed the Soup Nazi by certain patrons.

Crab ChowderFlashing her charming, girlish smile, Elaine slaps her hands on the steel counter above the steamy soups. The dark, mustachioed chef stares back coldly. Elaine eagerly inquires with a confident air, “Did anyone tell you, you look like Al Pacino? You know, Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.”

Elaine leans toward the owner and launches into a husky-voiced imitation of Pacino’s character: “Whoooo-ahhhhhhhhh . . . Whoooo-ahhhhhhhhh!”

The Soup Nazi grimaces and abruptly yells, “NO SOUP FOR YOU! COME BACK, ONE YEAR!”

Sometimes I see God as the Soup Nazi. “No answered prayer for you! Wait much, much longer. Come back, one year!” At least that’s how I’ve viewed Him at times. No cure for my parent’s cancer. No immediate answers to my own health quandaries. No husband. Come back, one year.

Maybe you can relate. No baby. No extra income. No friends who truly understand. No new car. No change of heart in your teen. No fitting in.

You get the picture. Waiting for God to show up in our pressing everyday problems does not always help His reputation. If we didn’t know better, we’d swear some days that God is a cruel chef refusing to feed His starving children. As we wait, we may reason, OK, God—forget the scrumptious crab bisque. I’d settle for some simple broth. When impatience festers, we often conclude that God is insensitive and cross; kind of a celestial Soup Nazi. We see Him as hardhearted and unmerciful.

Yet this is not how the Bible describes God. The NIV Bible uses the word mercy 129 times, and most of those incidents refer to God’s character. We may not always feel this is true, but the truth is: God delights to show us mercy. The apostle Paul affirmed that God “is rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4), and later, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11). God is lavishly merciful.

When it comes to God’s mercy, either the Bible has it wrong or we do. Even when we feel like we are being told to “come back, one year,” perhaps we can look for God’s mercy in our delay. For as the famed seventeenth-century poet and playwright Thomas Otway reminds us, “Mercy’s indeed the attribute of heaven.”

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. —Abraham Lincoln

Brave and Resilient Tip #72: Look for mercy in life’s delays.

Adapted from Two Days Longer, Beth Lueders, (Howard Publishing, 2006), pp. 81-84.




Waiting for Mr. Talldark N. Handsome

Some days I’m torn between Craig and Frank. Other days Dave catches my eye. Craig is polished and successful, Frank is fun and outdoorsy, and Dave is strong and compassionate. What’s an eligible bachelorette to do?

Thanks to Boyfriend-in-a-Box™, which was introduced in the ‘90s, I can be in a relationship with all three with no one getting hurt. If I tire of Corporate Craig, Firefighter Frank, or Doctor Dave, I can always rely on Athletic Al, Cowboy Clint, or Musical Miles to be my special guy.

Boyfriend-in-a-Box is a single women’s survival kit against that age-old question: “Are you seeing anyone?” This humorous gag gift features a 5″x7″ and wallet-sized photo of Craig, Frank, or one of the other four irresistible men. You also get three phone message slips saying “he called” and a mushy greeting card signed by your man. For the overly inquisitive people, sometimes a picture of a guy is all they need to ease off your social life.

photo_24566_20101217Social life, you may ask. I can empathize if the highlight of your “social life” is picking up your doggie’s doo at the park near the cute guy walking his dog. Or, if like me, you finally wade through the dozens of online profiles of eligible bachelors to find one or two who do not confess to bizarre habits like “chasing my cat in the dark with a flashlight” (I kid you not!)

You know, there are advantages to both sides of the marriage bond. As a single, there’s no confusion on how to hang the toilet paper rolls in my house, and I can keep the room temperature to my liking. Plus, I never fear those chilling toilet seat-up plunges in the middle of the night.

Yet singleness has its woes. I have no one else to take out the trash or give me a back massage. There’s no man to mow the lawn or lift the 50-pound manure bag into my garden. I can’t snuggle next to my partner in front a romantic fire and share the details of my day. And, there’s no one to buffer me from telemarketers. Oh, if only those boyfriends in a box could answer the phone.

My married friend Angie kids that since I live in Colorado I should put on a cute sweater with matching earrings, lipstick, and nail polish and sit in a ski lodge all day waiting to attract Mr. Talldark N. Handsome. That sounds somewhat reasonable, but at my age sitting for long periods bothers my back.

So what’s an outgoing, fun, creative, blonde/blue SWCF like me doing about finding an athletic, tall, fun SWCM? Besides staying involved in activities where I can meet stable single men (does hanging out at Home Depot count?), I’m hanging onto the Bible verse that God led me to in my twenties: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:5).

After decades of resiliency in dating and waiting, I still find that delighting in my relationship with God and with family and friends is an antidote to despair in flying solo. Whether we’re single, married, single again, or widowed, learning to delight in what we do have in our current season in life is actually an antidote to despair or complacency for all of us.

I honestly believe that the man handpicked for me, is out there, we just haven’t connected yet. Or have we? Hmmm. . . . I may not know his name or what he looks like, but I thank God that He knows. He also knows what I need in a husband and how to use my singleness now to make me a more complete wife later.

How much longer is later? I don’t know, but life is too short to sit around pondering if I’ll have cold feet on my wedding day. (At the rate I’m going, cold feet and senior discounts are almost guaranteed.) Even if I must wait for a wheelchair wedding at age 85, I promise my friends we’ll offer gelatins, applesauce, and chocolate shakes at the reception.

But wait. How can I make wedding plans when I can’t even decide between Craig, Frank, or Dave?

Brave & Resilient Tip #14:  Delight in what you do have in your current season of life.