The Waiting Game

November 26, 2022

So, you may have been wondering what’s going on with me…or, you may still be in your Thanksgiving Day stupor, I don’t know, but I’ll update you all anyway…

I’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Yep, I’ve been playing The Waiting Game, maybe you’ve heard of it?

Now, this is not the only time I’ve ever played this snarky, maddening game – oh no! I’ve played it quite often in my 50+ years of living and chances are you have, too. And, let’s just say, of all the games I’ve played, this is my least favorite.

As you may remember, I have cancer. That’s getting a little easier to say, actually. The plan was for me to have a port put in this last Wednesday and start chemo next week. Now, first of all, I found out I had cancer in mid-October, so let’s just remember that that’s been more than a month ago. Just getting to this place required a lot of waiting. And, I actually felt I had waited long enough, if you must know. But, then my MRI report came back and my oncologist threw me a curve and wanted me to go back and talk to the surgeon again – it seems she thought maybe my case should START with surgery, instead of treatment. Of course, this is all after I’d filled all the meds needed for chemo, had the port scheduled, etc.

Well, as you might have guessed, I freaked out. I mean, I had finally wrapped my brain around chemo and you’re changing it? Not cool. So, I had about 24 hours of tears and angst and lots of emotions, then my oncologist called back. This time I told her how I was feeling and made my case for treatment first, then surgery if needed. (This consisted mostly of “I do not want to have a colostomy, temporary or not, unless I absolutely have to.”) She completely understood, saying I definitely might need chemo anyway after surgery and understood me wanting to start with the less invasive procedure first. Whew!

However, several days before this conversation took place, I developed a UTI – of course I did – and started running fever days AFTER starting the antibiotic. I mean, who does that? That, my friends is a post all of its own, so I’ll continue…so because of the fever, I had to postpone my port placement. To December 7. Which is next month, in case you’re not tracking. More waiting.

Meanwhile, I’m going to have a phone conversation with the surgeon this Wednesday, where I will ever-so-sweetly tell him I’m not going to have surgery right now, then I’ll wait some more. Until December 7, when I get my port. Then I’ll wait some more. Until December 13, when I start chemo. So, yeah, I’m playing The Waiting Game.

Now, here’s the thing about waiting: it is truly like a real game. And I love games – mainly sports games! If you ask anyone who knows us, it’s not Robert who wants to make sure we’re home to watch the Astros or the Aggies or, sometimes, the Cowboys; it’s me. I’m a sports enthusiast. OK, I’m a fanatic, a sports fanatic – judge me not. I absolutely love sports!

I was raised by another sports fanatic: my father. My father, to this day, is a sports fanatic; along with me, my brother and my son. My dad raised me to know all things football and baseball – the fact that I was a girl made no difference. I was quite the Tomboy growing up, and I wouldn’t change a thing about that.

I grew up on a street filled with boys – lots of them – and me and one deaf girl named Regina. So yeah, I had to learn to “blend in,” and I was scrappy and tough and I didn’t put up with any nonsense from these hoodlums on my street. My mom swears it was nothing for her to look out the front window of our house on 11th Street and see me sitting on top of some neighbor boy, punching him in the face. (If ya know, ya know!)

And part of my “persona” at this time in my life was my love for football and baseball – which has continued til today. I can call holding, pass interference, false starts vs off sides before the referee sees it; I can tell you who’s not blocking on the line and tell you when the quarterback is staying in the pocket too long. I can explain the infield fly rule to you, tell you when the batter is swinging too late and describe how the pitcher is holding the ball for several pitches. I am the lady at the game who is actually WATCHING the game and don’t mind asking my girlfriends, sweetly of course, to sit down and finish telling me the story during halftime or at least when the home team isn’t batting. I truly love sports.

And, here’s the thing; like in football or baseball, strategy is needed to win the waiting game. Oh, yes, you need some strategy while waiting!

First of all, like every position on a football or baseball team, waiting well means waiting actively. Waiting is not a just sit around and hope for the best thing! It’s a getting up every day, putting on the mind of Christ, getting into God’s Word and choosing, once again, to put my life, my hopes, my dreams, my problems, my illness, my complete trust in God. Just like in baseball, no matter how many batters strike out or walk, those outfielders must be ready with each new batter, to catch that fly ball and get the out. They actively wait for every batter that comes to the plate. And like in football, the running back and ends don’t just hang out when it’s not their turn to carry the ball on a play; they block, protect the quarterback, try and throw the defense off. Waiting is like that; waiting takes active patience. Active means you’re doing something. And when we don’t wait actively, like I’ve experienced some over the past couple of weeks, chaos ensues. Trust me.

A very good friend sent me this verse this morning. It’s Romans 12:12 and says,

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

And, boy, did I need to read that!

Secondly, like with any sport you can name, waiting takes strategy. This is where the active part of waiting gets organized! All sports have an element of strategy. In football, maybe you’re playing a team with a great running game; your defense is going to have to adjust their normal strategy to get more players free to get to the runner. In baseball, maybe you have a heavy hitter coming up on the opposing team; your catcher and pitcher are going to have to work together to create a combination of pitches that are difficult for this batter to hit, or possibly even intentionally walk him. Sometimes, in both of these games your opponent dictates your strategy.

It’s the same with waiting; I, as a Believer, with the spirit of Christ living in me, have three main opponents: myself (my flesh), my enemy (he who does not need to be named), and, believe it or not, sometimes my people. And I have to adjust my waiting strategy to fight each of these opponents.

For instance, I was thrown for a loop with my oncologist’s call about surgery, because as much as I don’t want chemo, I don’t want surgery more! I needed to adjust my strategy. I needed to get into God’s Word and reread the part about how much God cares for me, how I can trust Him with everything in my life, how He has the plan and He will work that plan with no help from me, and on and on. If only I would have.

As for my enemy, when he starts whispering lies about cancer spreading, even dying, I simply need to call him out for being a liar and tell him to get back to hell where he belongs! Then, concentrate on all the dreams God’s given me, the calling on my life ,and remind myself that my days here on earth are far from finished.

And finally, we all have people in our lives who, when we struggle, desperately want to say something meaningful to encourage us; something that will help. Honestly, I’ve learned that the best thing to say here is,

I love you. I’m here for you and I’m praying for you. (Insert big hug here.)

But sometimes, in their well meaning, people say things that hurt; things that put expectations on you that are unrealistic; things that make you feel worse, instead of better. I bet we’ve all been there, right? With this opponent, I need to call a friend like the one that texted me this morning, or meet for lunch or coffee. I need to let these people, who make me feel safe and secure with whatever day I’m having, speak into my life. Words from these friends are like a balm rubbed into a wound, being wrapped up in a blanket on a chilly morning, or that first Pumpkin Spiced Latte at the end of August, reminding you that your two weeks of autumn are only six weeks away. These are the words that truly help; words that jerk your mind back to the correct path, helping you over the hump, back to the straight and narrow.

So, I don’t know what you’re going through today – gosh, there could be so many things causing you to play The Waiting Game with me. But here’s what I’m trying to remember as I wait: I can win this game!

With the right, active mindset, The Waiting Game cannot defeat me! Remember, God has the plan for you – even when you’re waiting – and He is working on your behalf through your waiting. And I’ll leave you with this great promise, from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 31,

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Here’s to you, while you wait.

and above all else love