Have you ever waited for something?  Like really waited for something?  Like for something that is more profound than you could ever imagine?

My wife and I have been in a constant state of anticipation lately.  We aren’t generally neurotic or worrisome sorts.  This state of anticipation is specific.

We’re adopting.

And adoption is chock full of anticipation.

But so is waiting for a child to come into the world through biological means.

And so are a thousand other things in life.  And, if you’re anything like me, then that ubiquitous anticipation is torturous.

Anticipation is just difficult and often painful.

Is Our Anticipation Special?

I’ve learned something recently — being in a near constant state of anticipation can alter one’s perception of reality.  In fact, it can cause one to think that his or her anticipation is special, unique, and one-of-a-kind.

And in the previous two sentences the word “one” really just means “my” and “me.”  I’ve learned that anticipation has altered my perception of reality.  I think my anticipation is special, unique, and one-of-a-kind.

Sure, the situation my wife and I find ourselves in is unique.  But every single situation in the universe is unique.  And when someone is waiting for something, their anticipation is completely unique.

Everyone’s anticipation is special.  So, in a certain way, no one’s is.

But Anticipation Is Difficult

But just because everyone’s anticipation is equally special doesn’t mean that the anticipation we all experience is therefore easy.  It’s not.  Anticipation can be difficult sometimes.

And when it is, I’ve learned that there are few things which are totally unhelpful, whether because I’ve done them or because I’ve been on the other side.

So, here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • Don’t try to make people feel what you think they should feel.  That’s not helpful.  Just let people feel whatever they need to feel.  Empathy is key here, not sympathy and certainly not unsolicited advice.  Ask questions for which the person feeling the anticipation can answer honestly, not just in the way you want them to answer.  Give people space to feel.
  • Don’t judge people for being different than you might be.  Here’s a great example of a mistake that I tend to make: I sometimes foist religious lines on folks.  Something like this: “Don’t worry; God is good.”  Or something like, “Just have faith in God.”  Whether the person who is experiencing anticipation believes in God or not, saying things like these is not generally helpful.  It says to the one feeling the anticipation that what he or she is feeling is wrong and that he or she needs to feel things correctly.  His or her feelings are wrong.  And, as any human being who ever lived can attest, it’s super hard to prevent feeling the feelings that we feel.
  • Be there.  Just be there.  I’ve not always been there for people who are in the midst of anticipation.  I don’t ever know what exactly to say.  I’m fearful that I’ll do or say something wrong, like the previous two bullet points above.  But in my experience, on both sides of anticipation, just being there is enough.  Have a meal together.  Go on a hike.  Do normal things.  If the subject of anticipation comes up, let the one in the midst of it take the lead.  If all they wanted to do was pick at the anticipation scab for one second and then move on, cool.  Let them.
  • Lastly, pray for them.  Even if you’re not a Jesus follower, pray for your friend or family member that’s facing anticipation.  Ask God to be with them.  Ask God to be faithful to them.  Ask God to be good to them.  Ask God to help them feel hopeful and excited.  In other words, pray to God all the things that you may have wanted to say to the person!  Why?  Because those are good things!  And the person in the midst of anticipation needs them.  So ask God to give them to him or her.

Welp, that’s about it.  Do you have any other thoughts about dealing with anticipation or interacting with folks who are?  Let me know in the comments below.
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