Active and passive waiting


“They also serve who only stand and wait.”

John Milton
mom at larwood beach_sm

I admit to doing a lot of sitting. I sit and think, sit and talk, sit and watch, sit and write. As mentioned in Friday’s post, in this photo taken by my DD, I was sitting and absorbing inspiration from the sight, sounds and smells of the ocean.

Sometimes I sit and wait.

Writers do a lot of waiting… waiting for time to write and inspiration to strike, or perhaps waiting to hear from beta readers, editors and agents. The most ineffective kind of waiting is passive, and I don’t believe indulging in it has any value. If we sit, wonder and worry, we fall prey to negativity. We stagnate. Active waiting puts us in control of how we are affected by the passage of time. It’s all about attitude.

Being proactive results in being productive. While we probably can’t change the outcome of whatever it is we’re awaiting, we can use the time to our advantage by doing something positive. Writers might start a new story or article, go on a research trip, contact a colleague to brainstorm or offer encouragement. Whether in life or writing, when we make an effort to wait actively, we discover there are all sorts of possibilities.

Milton’s quote is often used out of context, but so are the scripture verses below. They can be construed to mean we should just sit around (or stand) and wait for God to make something happen. But in my books faith is meant to be active. I know it’s a noun, but I prefer to think of it as a verb… a kind of ‘doing’… just as waiting should be a ‘doing’.

Can you think of other situations in which we can actively wait and thus move forward rather than be a victim of  inactivity?



“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”

Isaiah 40:31a

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart.

Psalm 27:14a

~  ~  ~

7 thoughts on “Active and passive waiting

  1. Judith Robl says:

    Waiting upon the Lord is like being a waitress in a restaurant. Even though you don’t hover over a table, you keep an eye on it. Meantime, you clear off tables, refill supplies, make fresh coffee and do all the other background tasks that make eating out a pleasure for the guest.

    We do a lot of everyday things between the time God asks for extraordinary obedience from us. Meantime, we wait.

  2. I do spend a lot of time waiting –especially as a writer. I try to start a new book as I’m waiting on the one before. I also try to stay busy as I wait on life–like building our home or finding work.

  3. 1mommasunshine says:

    truly, it is a privilege to be able to take the time to reflect. with so much television and social media reflecting seems to be a lost art.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! have a great week!

  4. Laura Best says:

    Love this thoughtful post, Carol. Life gives us many opportunities to wait. Sometimes we’re happy about it other times we aren’t. I’ve learned to be patient over the years although I still need to be reminded of it from time to time. 🙂

  5. joylene says:

    Excellent timing. I’m waiting for family to call and I’m waiting on my publisher. You’re so right. It’s way too easy to get upset. Productivity serves me better if I stay positive. Thanks, Carol!

  6. Shari Green says:

    When it comes to writing-related waiting (and oh, there’s so much of it!), active waiting is definitely easier…using the time to start a new story or catch up on my TBR pile is much more enjoyable and productive than obsessively checking my email for a response, or wandering about the house doing nothing but going crazy! 😉

  7. Are we passively waiting? | Becoming increasingly relevant… says:

    […] Active and passive waiting […]

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