There are few words that can leave me feeling more defeated, fearful, and weary than these 3 following: “Just. wait. until.”
Oh, there’s nothing in the actual words. Someone could be saying, “Just wait until you’re married, it’s so amazing!”
“Just wait until you feel that baby move, it’s such a cool feeling.”
Quite honestly though, that’s not usually the experience I have when I’m hearing these 3 words.
Far too often, I find myself in conversations hearing these words with individuals in various stages of life ahead of myself, and it is usually more along the lines of “Just wait until they are teenagers, you think they are hard now?” or “Oh sweetie, just wait until they do ____.” And on goes the conversation that puts dread in me for the future. The intention is not always bad, and I’m sure the heart of these people is not to beat me down. Nonetheless, as a mom of young kids, if I’ve just been vulnerable enough to confess that I’ve been angry at my kids, telling me to “just wait until…” is quite honestly, incredibly unhelpful for several reasons.
- It invalidates others’ feelings.
Hindsight often shows us that past struggles were not as horrible as they seemed when we were in the midst of them. Sometimes we see that they were in fact just as difficult as we thought at the time, but in looking back we can see the work that God has done in our lives and hearts as He walked us through our trials. Either way, the trials God allowed us were just that: trials! So when we are in conversation with others that are a few years “behind us” in a life phase, minimizing their situation is a devastating way to invalidate their very real emotions and current struggle. Don’t miss the opportunity to love and encourage a hurting friend in their struggle by invalidating their feelings.
- It does not bring encouragement or hope for the future.
As a mom of one baby, I remember the overwhelming difficulty of figuring out what bothered my son’s tummy so badly that he threw up everything he drank. It seemed like an insurmountable challenge. I’ve now had 3 babies, my oldest is 6, and now the challenge is how to break the habit of an argumentative response to everything I say. It’s different. And yes, in some ways it is harder, and stretches me more. But it doesn’t mean my new baby challenge wasn’t a challenge. And for me to go to a new momma struggling with a fussy baby and communicate that it only gets worse is a sure way to crush any hope for the great things that the future has to bring! Sure, there is “different” hard in having 3 kids than when I only had one baby, but it wasn’t “less” hard, just different. Let’s choose words that cast vision for the great things that are to come, not to instill dread in the hearts of our friends.
- It takes away from the message of God’s grace we could be sharing.
I don’t know about you, but when I have a friend who repeatedly tells me to “just wait,” I’m much less likely to go to that individual for wisdom or solidarity! What if instead of a “just wait until” approach we could say, “I completely remember how hard that was. But look how God met me there!”? What an amazing effect on our friendships and our mentoring relationships we could have if we could set our minds on communicating the grace that HE has given us instead of the struggle there was in the moments.
There is always someone in a phase behind us, and someone in a phase ahead. Let’s try to remember the difficulties we’ve had in the past and be faithful to share who HE is and what HE has done in our lives as we talk to each other. Let’s choose to just wait until we see what the Lord will do as we encourage one another!