My word of the year is “patience.” I think I need to have it tattooed on the back of each hand, maybe the top of my feet, and written on the palm of my hand with permanent marker. Last week I realized that I hadn’t had the patience to stick with being patient. This week I realize I need to be patient with myself because last week would have tried the patience of anyone. We had the flooring replaced in our whole condo because we are just a few feet above sea level and in the rainy summer the ground gets so wet that water comes up through our cement foundation. We had vinyl planking put down. As I am getting older I am finding I have less patience for chaos, and having every room tore up and not being able to make anything right is chaos.
My primary purpose for choosing the word “patience” is so I can be better at being patient with people who behave in ways that trigger my frustration or fear or insecurities. As I have been thinking about patience I have realized how intertwined it is with the characteristics of love (and in the Christian faith with the fruit of the Holy Spirit), like kindness, humility, generosity, gentleness, self-control. I’m wondering if being successful in having these qualities leads to joy (a fruit of the Spirit). Let me know what you have learned about this from your experience.
I plan to write more about this, from various perspectives of living and aging, throughout the year. No need to have all the answers right now – I can be patient.
I’ve written before about my problem with patience. I’ve never been a patient person, with myself or others. And for some reason I didn’t have the patience to write something about this Fruit of the Spirit. Every time I started it turned out seeming quite trite. So I will tell you a story.
God and I have engaged in a few struggles over my impatience. One in particular I remember frequently, probably whenever my patience is getting thin. It was a bad time at work – the Christian institution where I worked had done something that was oh-so-wrong to a colleague/friend and some people were being very self-righteous about the decision making. I had a very dear friend in the administration who was right in the middle of this painful situation and I felt for her; she was telling me to not get in the middle but I had to for personal and professional reason. This situation had left me feeling frustrated, angry, fearful, distraught, disgusted, helpless, and my faith was being tried.
Late one day I was leaving work as my administrator friend was walking towards me. She wanted to talk so we sat on the steps – but she didn’t want to talk about the incident that had me so disturbed. She was disturbed because she had a personal problem (painful one) and she was afraid she would have to quit her j0b, because of another asinine (my opinion) institutional policy. This was an institution I loved but boy were they stuck on stupid, and their stupidity was hurting so many people – all in the name of Godliness. They claimed to know God’s will, and God just didn’t condone some behaviors. They had prayed about it.
I drove home with tears streaming down my face. As I stepped into my kitchen my mind was exploding with all of my frustration and anger and feelings of helplessness. How could they do this to the people I loved? Why wouldn’t the people behind the decisions listen to reason? Where was God and what did s/he really want – why wasn’t God listening to me?
As I stepped into my quiet kitchen, my quiet home, with my brain screaming, I heard an even louder scream through my own,”Shut! up! Pat!” And then a very quiet and gentle voice, “And know that I am God.”
This seems to be what patience is about – to know that our creator is in control so we don’t have to blast our way through. Not everything about life is good and right and within our understanding. Our only task is to seek truth and do right, and trust that everything will work in time – God’s time. Patience, Pat.