In 1994, there was no choice but to wait. I remember how the world was rocked when a new technology began to shorten the distance between people, making communication easier and more instant. Three words changed everything: Dial-Up Internet. Oh yeah, I have vivid memories of waiting just a few short minutes to connect to the World Wide Web. The shrieking sounds that blared from a machine that weighed twice as much as me were hardly annoying… they were exhilarating. Information, electronic mail, frogger, and finally another development: mp3 downloads. Mind.Blown. Gone were the days of waiting for your favorite song to come on the radio so you could hit “record” on your tape deck. We could download any tune just by waiting a mere 30 minutes per song. God bless the person who picked up the phone in the middle of a Napster binge.
For all of history, waiting has been a part of life. However, in our modern era waiting seems to be less inevitable than ever. We once waited a week just for photos to be developed; now they are on all our friend’s devices within moments of our snap. E-mail, text, video-on-demand, Google and more ensure that every whim, desire and question is answered within moments of our asking.
We have become a vending machine culture. We ask; we receive. We expect it of our wifi, cable and cell-phone carriers. We expect it of God. We even expect it of our human relationships. We have forgotten how to wait. We have forgotten how to long for, how to desire and how to anticipate… well, anything.
I spend much of time in ministry trying to convince young people to be pure in their relationships. However, in a generation that doesn’t wait for anything, how can we expect our children to wait for one of the most difficult, tempting situations they will encounter?! What happens when we encourage a generation who has everything at their fingertips to wait for marriage to engage in sexual activity? Well, honestly, it doesn’t make much sense to them. At first glance, saving sex for marriage isn’t entirely attractive; it’s just sort-of… well… hard. The truth is that in my years of speaking on the chastity message, I have had hundreds tell me that they wish that they would’ve waited… but never once have I had someone tell me that they wished they wouldn’t have. This is the message I want my children to know and embrace.
As a mother, I’ve realized that I need to provide opportunities for my children to learn to wait. In a culture of instant gratifications, we must make a conscience effort look for ways to teach our kids the art of waiting. As mothers, we have daily opportunities to create moments for our children to exercise their virtue-muscles. We can encourage children to write letters and wait for responses, plant seeds and pay close attention to their growth, anticipate feast days and other important events. Additionally, I think there are loads of times when our kids grow impatient that we simply need to point out the importance of waiting. It is essential in parenting that we look for moments to draw our kids’ attention what they could be experiencing/learning. The next time you hear, “are we there yet,” point out how the anticipation is increasing their desire. It may not stop the whining, but you’ll just have to be the patient one to see the fruits.
There is something sacred about waiting. In fact, the anticipation of something doesn’t just make the event more special, it changes you. Because the Church is so smart, there is a whole season dedicated to learning to wait- and that season is upon us right now. We don’t open our presents before Christmas and it’s the anticipation that increases the meaning of the gift. So it is with chastity, but also with every aspect of our life. This is true throughout human history. Advent reminds us of the people who came before Christ, who knew that after death, there was only imprisonment awaiting them. They knew those who died weren’t “in a better place,” because the Savior hadn’t come to set them free. They were waiting- for thousands of years, for God to come through on His promise to save His people. They were starving for a Savior. We remember, for the four weeks of Advent, that we too are nothing: dead, without Christ. As all of Creation held their breath when the Christ-child came into the world, we too should feel like we are finally truly alive when we recognize what Jesus’ birth means this Christmas. Jesus is inviting you this Advent, to draw near to Him, and let Him transform you. He will always keep His promise. Wait. Let Christ exceed your wildest expectations as Love Himself, is born in your heart.
Katie Hartfiel is the author of the purity duo- Woman in Love and the Mother’s Companion to Woman In Love. Katie spends much of her time speaking to young women on the virtue of purity as well as coaching moms with the tools to encourage their daughters in this pursuit. More about Katie, her books and her ministry can be found at womaninlove.org
Copyright 2014 Katie Hartfiel