The Power of Joyful Waiting
By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
Entering into this advent season we look forward to the joy of the holidays, the gift of Christmas and the promise of a New Year by sharing a reminder of the power of joyful awaiting. Enjoy this short excerpt from my book IN AWE.
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Getting kids to bed can be an exhausting, time-consuming venture.
In our house, the journey begins with getting them into—and then out of—a bathtub. From there, the assembly line includes drying them off and getting them to pull on their pajamas, brush their teeth, and comb their hair. There’s a quick straightening of their room, laying out their clothes for the morning, and picking a book to read.
Once in bed, we read a book, or sometimes I tell them a funny story, and then we pray together.
While I was tucking Henry into bed recently, he attempted to stall the inevitable.
After having already read “just one more story” several times, I leaned over, kissed his forehead, stood up, turned off the light, and made my way out of the room.
Just a few steps down the hallway, I heard his voice call out, “Dad?”
I ignored it, hoping he would fall asleep. Don’t judge. I had three more kids to get to bed and a desire to spend some uninterrupted time with my wife!
“Dad?” he called again, even more emphatically.
The pull of guilt and an excuse to spend another moment with my little guy sent me back.
“What is it, buddy?”
He looked up at me. “Dad, how many days until my birthday?”
His birthday is December 7. This conversation was taking place the week after Christmas.
I wanted to respond, Henry, way too freaking many days to count! Now go to sleep.
But instead, I moved further into his room, sat on his bed again, brushed back his hair, and responded, “Great question.” I assumed he’d be pretty disappointed when I added, “Your birthday is about 340 days away.”
He looked away for a moment. I could see his little mind doing the math, working it out, thinking it through.
He then looked back at me and said, “Awesome. Tomorrow can we make a countdown calendar to get ready for it?”
His birthday is more than eleven months away, and this kid wants to get ready for it?
My friend, this is the power of joyful awaiting.
Kids can’t wait for the next big thing. They are always looking forward to the next holiday, the next weekend, the next vacation, the next sleepover. And it’s not just the big stuff they enthusiastically await.
It is why they can sit cross-legged watching through the glass on the oven door as the chocolate chip cookie dough transforms into cookies. It’s why they wear their swimming trunks to bed when they know they are headed to the pool with a friend in the morning. It’s why, when learning their birthday is 340 days away, they respond with fervor and joy, preparing for the countdown.
Children intrinsically know how sweet it is to thoroughly anticipate something. But you don’t need to be a kid to experience it.
Have you ever watched the face of a groom as his bride walks down the aisle? Or witnessed someone hold their grandchild for the first time? Have you seen the smile of an Olympian perched on top of a platform preparing to receive her gold medal? Have you ever been present the moment a unit of soldiers is released from their ranks to finally rejoin their families after a fifteen-month deployment?
The delight that emanates from joyful awaiting is a beautiful part of life.
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My friends, this has been another difficult year in so many regards for so many people. And yet, as we move into the final month of it, we advance into a season of profound anticipation.
This season, don’t just make lists of things you need to get ready for the house or buy for others, but consider what it is you are celebrating in the first place and how best to prepare yourself to be ready when it arrives.
Joyful awaiting doesn’t ensure what we are going through will be easy. It just provides the conviction that the reward and the wait will be worth the struggle.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
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