Alaina Kleinbeck offers a very simple and practical solution for Americans yearning for a speedy end to the next presidential term — before it’s even begun.
Kleinbeck said she doesn’t mean the twiddling your thumbs or flipping through a magazine sort of waiting. She means the spiritual kind requiring stillness, alertness, prayerfulness, love and action.
And it demands hope that God can be found in places where he isn’t expected — including a nation governed by Donald Trump.
“It’s about taking a deep breath in those times when we are prone to impatience and recognizing those glimpses of the Kingdom of God where we may not actually believe it to be,” she said.
Kleinbeck is director of the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation at Duke Divinity School. In 2014, she penned a Faith & Leadership article titled “Practicing waiting.”
This week, Kleinbeck told Baptist News Global she had no idea how relevant her article would be two years later.
‘Waiting on the Lord’
Her article lays out how waiting is built into existence itself.
“Creation waits for spring to come into full display with hints for warmth and sunshine peppered with brutal days of gloom and ice,” she writes.
It’s much the same for graduating students awaiting acceptance letters and for churches awaiting the calling and arrival of new ministers.
But for some the waiting can be uncomfortable, if not painful. This is when some turn to scripture for perspective and, in turn, for patience.
“Waiting is taking care of ourselves and the work we have in front of us as a means of preparing for the future,” she writes. Waiting “isn’t mindlessly complacent. Waiting expects change and inches toward it in thoughtful steps.”
Impatience, Kleinbeck writes, is the opposite of all those things. It manifests in taking the wrong jobs, hiring the wrong employees and engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms.
“Bitterness and anxiety dominate our thinking patterns and rob us of our contentment and joy,” she writes. Impatience “wreaks havoc on our families, our congregations and institutions, and our communities.”
The Bible can even be used in unhealthy ways to stuff emotions that come up around waiting, Kleinbeck writes. Phrases like “wait on the Lord” are offered to placate impatience.
Bringing the Kingdom
Finding refuge in healthy, spiritual waiting — whether for Christmas morning to arrive ASAP, for a newer president or even a scary diagnosis — isn’t complicated at all. In fact, Kleinbeck told BNG, it can be seemingly very mundane.
“Bitterness and anxiety dominate our thinking patterns and rob us of our contentment and joy.”
“Put down the cell phone,” she said.
“Say hi to people.”
Simple techniques, she said, that can be practiced while waiting in doctors’ offices and lines at the grocery store or airport.
When impatience appears as crankiness or stress, take a positive action.
“Watch a parent interact with a child,” Kleinbeck said. “I have to pay attention to the world around me and not on how fast can I get through it.”
The same principle of action works on larger levels, she added. Those angry or afraid of the nation’s political situation can volunteer for ministries, nonprofits and causes, and become directly involved in government by attending city council meetings.
“We can become active signs of hope” while waiting for change.
Waiting is not sitting around in despair, wishing for change, Kleinbeck said. It’s about taking action and cultivating trust.
“My spin would be: go bring the Kingdom of God into the place where you want to see it.”