Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Patience is...

Patience is... 

Annoying? Impossible? Frustrating? A struggle? A virtue? 

Pretty sure my opinion of "patience" has covered all of these descriptors-- and more. I have never been a very patient person (Ahem, see yesterday's post...) 

Seriously, as a little girl, I didn't just want things to happen now, I wanted them to happen yesterday... HURRY UP! The most dreaded words coming out of my Mama's mouth (then and to this day) rivaled "Wait until your father gets home" in the form of "You are just going to have to wait and see..." followed by "Patience is a virtue." 

NOooooooooooo!! I don't wanna wait and see. Patience as a virtue is overrated.  I really want to know now. Deal with it. Get on with things. Seriously. I have a to do list to do here people. 

Fortunately, God has done a work on my heart over these last (almost) 26 years... and I have mellowed out-- some. (It depends on my mood and ability to focus on Him.) Our society doesn't help with the "patience" issue either-- especially when it comes to our generation. Everything is fast and instantaneous-- "Instant results!" "Download now!" "Immediate satisfaction!" "Do you want fries with that? Please pull around." 

So about this patient heart work situation... Just last Friday, I was running a bunch of errands that I had been putting off (the masters paper writing had taken precedence) After spending a morning making miscellaneous phone calls, doing financial-ly things at home, it was time to tackle my outside list of things to do. 

Interestingly enough, all of my errands required waiting in lines... At the vet's office, at the army hospital pharmacy, at the bank, at Sonic (Ok that wasn't an errand per-say, but it was happy hour. I desired a Diet Dr. Pepper with Vanilla. But I digress.) 

Fortunately, I had resolved myself to RELAX and not be so uptight about the whole line waiting situation. The combination of the phrase "Ruthlessly eliminate hurry" that I heard from a co-worker a couple of months ago (that he got from a book) and the servant evangelism/kindness lessons I have learned last semester in school helped me to enjoy my errands. I had no where to go that evening but home, and Brandon was going to be working a little later than normal.  I hoped to bring a little bit of un-grumpiness to the clerks I was dealing with. Let me explain. 

There was only one lady working at the vet clinic desk. I was "second" in line and just needed to pick up heartworm/flea meds for the baby dog. Instead of fidgeting and scowling and being short with the clerk for "forcing" me to wait, I intentionally SMILED at her and made eye contact. After she looked at me like I had 7 eyes and the shock of someone polite and (pseudo) patient-ish wore off, she seemed less stressed. 

As I was driving from the vet to the army hospital pharmacy, I started mulling over about patience... and was determined to keep it going, even with obnoxious traffic. The REAL test happened when I showed up at the pharmacy. It was my first experience at the hospital pharmacy and HOLY CHEESE AND CRACKERS. Pretty sure that eleventy billion people were sitting in the chairs at the pharmacy with their "numbers" waiting to be called. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that again, I had no where to go, took my number and grabbed a seat. 

I think when I arrived they were on 237. My number was 283. And they were also throwing some 600 and 800 level numbers in there. About 45 minutes later, I made it to the counter to give them info to transfer a prescription from Fort Riley. After I finished, the lady looked up with terror in her eyes (literally) and squeaked out in a scared voice "Um, you do know that you can't get this prescription today right? We have to transfer it then get it ready next week." 

Not quite sure what she expected me to do... It wasn't a life threatening medication-- just an inhaler for my blessed asthma that I need in the "cold" months for running. The way the pharmacist was acting, you would have thought she was prepared for me to either 1) have an emotional breakdown, kicking and screaming there in the floor, tears and all 2) run out the door hysterically screaming 3) shank her. 

Fortunately for all parties involved, chose option #4, none of the above. I patiently replied "Yep, I know. I called ahead to check how the process worked and just wanted to get the ball rolling. So it will be ready early next week then?" 

The look on her face was a mixture of shock, relief and glee. Someone of my generation, showing grace and patience to her... not shooting the messenger. It honestly kind of saddened me that we have set the standard for negative reactions when it comes to being patient. I still stink at being patient sometimes too... but it's one of those God things-- he's gonna grow me and shape with me opportunities to be patient. 

I don't write these things to condemn... but rather to encourage. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22) One of the attributes of our awesome God is PATIENCE... He patiently waits on us to screw up, try to fix things ourselves, get frustrated, screw up again, THEN finally submit and turn to Him. If our God is that patient with us all the time, shouldn't we extend the same grace, love and kindness to those around us? 

Stop for just a second today and think... Do you need to be more patient? Ask God to help you with it (but be prepared that he isn't going to snap his fingers and make you patient, but rather give you opportunities to engage patience.) 

How can you extend Godly patience to someone in your life? Maybe a spouse or child? Or a supermarket clerk? A secretary on the phone? Perhaps that person in traffic that cut you off. Extend the grace, mercy, love and PATIENCE that God has already extended to you... Because after all, patience is... well, you can fill in the blank.  

Patiently waiting for patience, 

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." -Colossians 3:12

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