Dear Dr. Seuss and my friends in Cyberspace,
My cousin gave me your book Oh! The Places You’ll Go! when I graduated from Lafayette High School in 1994. (Yes. I’m old. But forty is fun, ladies.) I loved it. I read it to my classroom kids when I graduated college and became a teacher. I’ve read it countless times over the years to my children. In the past, I’ve even shared it with university students. Multitudes of valedictorians, senior class presidents, and famous celebrities have read and recited your supposed words of wisdom to graduating classes, both high school, college, and even kindergarten. Many a well-meaning mom and dad or favorite aunt or granny believe there are deep truths in your world famous must-have-high-school-graduation-gift. But it’s not on my favorite’s list anymore.
“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.”
What are you saying, Dr. Seuss?
Am I the best? Am I finally going to be THE ONE to go off script and forge a bright new path? I’ll walk headlong into and embrace the dangerous and unknown and unplowed with guaranteed success? Girls, I’m going to move mountains. High places await me. And you! He promised.
Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Theodor S. Geisel. While I appreciate your encouragement and heart behind this story, I’ve got several bones to pick with you. Seeing that my time and space is somewhat limited, let’s discuss my BIGGEST one. You’ll find it on page 29 of your book. “You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a breaking-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place…”
Then, then Dr. Seuss, you spend two pages poking fun at all the people in this Waiting Place. And you proclaim, “NO! That’s not for you! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.” Wait. What?
Helloooo. Let’s bring it down a notch and take a long hard look at reality. Biblical reality.
Sir, I’m sorry, but waiting is inevitable. It’s guaranteed. And it is a NECESSARY part of our journey. Just the word wait (and all forms of) is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible. Think it’s important? Relevant?
I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His Word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130: 5-6
Noah waited. Abraham waited. Esther waited. Ruth waited. Gideon waited. Daniel waited. Paul waited. Jesus waited.
And you’re telling us, Dr. Seuss, that this waiting place is a useless place? Hold the phone, sir. Back that truck up. The Bible makes it clear. Waiting is GOOD.
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31
Girls, what does this mean for you? It means The Waiting Place has a bench with your name on it. I’m not referring to that irritating holding your bladder thirty women deep for the bathroom during half-time, standing in line at Old Navy during after Christmas sales, or the daily doorstep checks for your latest Amazon Prime order. I’m talking about the waiting that hurts. The waiting that’s hard and frustrating and overwhelming. This kind of waiting makes you want to bury your face in your pillow and SCREAM. It buckles your knees, drops you to the floor, wrenching uncontrollable sobs from the depths of your soul. This place has the power to drain you of every ounce of strength and confidence and clear thought, if given.
But if we do it right, if we fully embrace the beauty of our bench in The Waiting Place, we’ll discover a profound truth. The Waiting Place is also The Listening Place; it’s The Believing Place.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Lord answered our prayers the way my Starbucks barista completed my Grande Vanilla Latte order? I ask. I receive. Five minutes max. (Unless I’m waiting in a line. HA.) But God is good. And He knows us better than we know ourselves. And waiting is not lazy. It’s not wasted time. Waiting is active. Waiting gives us time to dive deep into Scripture; it offers us moments of pause and silence and rest. It also reveals our hidden struggles and fears, all those places the Lord longs to heal and restore. So let’s wrestle with the Lord in our waiting place. Let’s have long, honest conversations with our Heavenly Father on that bench. Let’s listen. Then let’s grab our friend who’s holding us accountable and pray and wrestle together.
Do you find yourself in The Waiting Place today? Oh, friend. Look to your left; I’m sitting on the bench next to yours. But turn around. There, on the back of your seat. Do you see it? It’s carved in small, red letters.
The Lord your God is with you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
You are loved. You are cherished. And you are pursued by the God of the Universe. This time on the bench is for you. That’s not just a promise. It’s truth. And Dr. Seuss? While I respect you as an author and as a human being, you’re wrong. The times of waiting and staying and listening aren’t useless. They are priceless.