I don’t know the reason for it but I recently spent a morning feeling impatient with everyone and everything. The drivers going a few miles below the speed limit. The woman taking way too much time to make her deposit at the bank. A computer that took forever to download a document. It’s not like I had anywhere vital to be. I was simply feeling impatient.
My work in spiritual direction has taught me to listen to these kinds of emotions rather than pushing them aside. What I discovered was, while I was not exactly dreading a commitment later that day, I really wanted it to be over. In essence, I was anxious to get the present moment out of the way and then found myself bristling with irritation at the one that followed. It led to a chain of exasperation that kept me agitated for the entire morning.
I recently read an article about a social study on the value of patience. Participants were asked to choose between a small but immediate reward and waiting several weeks for a larger one. Not surprisingly, most of them chose the former. Those who delayed gratification treasured their reward more highly than those who opted for immediate results. This was true even when the rewards turned out to be identical. The study affirmed how the act of waiting reaped other “hidden treasures” – self-control, willpower, anticipation, and gratitude.
There are different ways to wait, of course. My own restless, anxious, frustrated kind only brought about more angst. Type the word “wait” into a biblical web site and over 100 results pop up. Twenty-two of them have to do with “waiting for the Lord.” One of the most striking is Psalm 40:1: “Iwaited patientlyfortheLord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” The psalmist is describing the kind of waiting that produces the same results affirmed in the social study. Our inner cries are heard, our restlessness quelled, our appreciation of the moment amplified.
It took a while but the lesson I needed to learn about patience eventually registered. I was rewarded with a bit of insight into the cause of my impatience and an openness to waiting upon God’s good timing. Needless to say, the remainder of my day proceeded much more happily.
A striking example of patience is Saint Rose Phillipine Duschene who had to wait many years to realize her dream of becoming a missionary in America. Read about her life and use the activities to initiate a discussion about patience in your family or class.