Did we really need an AP poll to determine that we are an nation full of impatient people?
Nonetheless, it provides a good gut check and a chance to reflect on the value of patience. It appears to me that there are three types of situations when our patience is tested. First, you've got your garden variety supermarket patience tester. Picture it with me...you roll up with your cart full of groceries and after carefully selecting the shortest line, inevitably the line you chose turns out to take the longest. The lady two spots in front of you can't figure out the touch pad technology, and then the next guy has some exotic food item that, of course, doesn't have a bar code and the cashier doesn't know the item off hand, thus necessitating a price check....we've all been there. We're always waiting, we sometimes feel, and if you're anything like me, you struggle with this because you can think of more "productive" things to be doing with your time. And we potentially miss out on seizing kairos moments, even if it just when we're waiting in line with folks at the bank, movie theater or waiting in traffic. In America, we're victims of our own advancement. We desire convenience and when that convenience isn't convenient enough, we get frustrated. There are a couple root issues, but I want to gloss over the other two instances when I think at least my patience can be tested.
Relationships can be a signifcant test of my patience. Maybe you're just spending time helping your kid brother with his homework and he just isn't understanding as quickly as you think he should. Or perhaps you have a friend that you are mentoring or discipling and you are on the brink of frustration over their lack of willingness to really give a valiant effort... When I think of a person who has great patience in this area, I think of my mom. She's worked in education all of her life, save the years when she was a stay-at-home mom. I can only imagine the degrees to which her patience has been tested when working with LD and BD kids.
Finally, I think of the many times that my patience has been stretched when seeking out wisdom from God for making "big" life transitions. In an overscheduled and results-driven culture, we tend to want the make the right move in a timely manner. But I've been learning over the past couple years that there is so much to be said for the journey of getting to the decision or that point when expectations are met. Steadfastness, faithfulness and learning to trust others and God can be great biproducts of maintaining patience throughout the process.
The greatest root issue that that has surfaced regarding this topic is that life is not a story about me...I think that is one of the greatest things I've been learning lately with some big life moves going on. Similar to what I said earlier, I think that my inability to see the value of the journey can sometimes fog my vision when I'm "just waiting." Back in the day, folks used to walk everywhere and I don't think they were complaining about doing so, or thought that it took too long. Okay, maybe that's when little kids started the "are we there yet?" phrase, but you get my drift. We've just become such a me-centered society and I hope that we can somehow, someway break free from it.
Ultimately, the best wisdom on the subject of patience comes from the Scriptures. These are some passages that have really be an encouragement to me when my patience is worn down. Let the truth of God soften our stubborness and selfishness and make us into patient, unselfish, even-tempered men and women.
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.