patience. noun. “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”
what is also a virtue, alex.
i’ve never been an intrinsically patient person. even at four years old, i got VERY frustrated when my fellow dance-classers did not master the choreography as quickly as i did. also, in case you forgot what i looked like in a leotard.
anyway, my lack of patience followed me into kindergarten, too. i often allowed my frustration get the best of me when my fellow five-year-olds didn’t keep up with the reading exercises. come ON, kiddos, stay on point!
apparently in my parent-teacher conference that year, sweet mrs. svenson enlightened my mom of my short fuse.“shawna could work on demonstrating grace to others.” whoopsies. but instead of letting my impatience become my demise, mrs. svenson channeled my reading prowess and made me the official reading time “helper.” i would keep the pace of the group and politely assist my classmates if they had lost their way.
now 23 years later, i still struggle with the whole demonstrating grace thing. to people, to circumstances, to myself. i’ve learned that even despite years of life experience and maturation, patience wasn’t labeled “a virtue” for nothing. it is something that we, or in they very least, i must continually tend to, cultivate, practice. it’s like my own personal patience garden. it needs to be pruned and watered and fertilized in order to bloom.
recently i had a tangible situation that only served to highlight just how far i have to go before i can list “slow to anger” on my life resume: our internet went out at work last week. so for four solid days, i was left to function with an extremely slow browser. tasks that would normally take me five minutes -updating our website, sending club emails, etc. suddenly took eight times as long. i was not enthused. in all honesty, slow internet is a great litmus test for your patience threshold. take away someone’s high speed internet access and see what happens.
considering the fact that i nearly threw my desktop out of the window a half dozen of times, i’d say my patience needs some work.
i’ll admit it, i’m a big fan of “instant gratification.” i would be lying if i said that i didn’t get frustrated if i have to wait longer than five minutes for, well, for most anything. line at starbucks isn’t moving fast enough? eye roll. traffic piled up for miles? call up mom for a vent session (and can you check the traffic report while you’re listening?). still haven’t received that email you were promised by noon? refreshes outlook 23859023582390 times before letting out a huge passive aggressive sigh.
if my four days of slow internet taught me anything it’s that, well, for one, it is mind boggling how reliant we are on an entity that didn’t even exist 30 years ago, but more importantly, it made it very clear where my shortcomings lie. patience. or rather, the lack thereof. i really do hate waiting. in line, for someone to return a phone call or text, for commercials (which is why i can’t break-up with my dvr). for those promises God has for me. all of it. to quote veruca salt from charlie and the chocolate factory, “i want it NOW, daddy. i want it NOW.”
but hey, that’s not how things work. inevitably, there will be waiting in this life. there will be lines for movies and for the bathroom and there will be waiting for packages to arrive and test results to be received and for the man of my dreams to show up on my doorstep. there will be waiting for things to transpire in God’s timing and not my own. and i will have to be patient. despite the fact that it goes against every fiber of my being. i will have to be gracious. just like i had to be with my kindergarten classmates. the world does not run on SST (shawna standard time), and i have to continually remind myself of that.
but what i’ve learned about patience is that it actually isn’t half bad. some of the greatest gifts and experiences and people have been more than worth the wait it took for them to enter into my life. sure, waiting is the worst. especially when it involves a slow browser and that tiny hourglass spinning in circles for perpetuity. but once we finally get what we desire, isn’t it all the more sweeter?
“for this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. we continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. for he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” colossians 1:9-14