patience and I have issues. I wish I could be the person who could tell a good "patience" story and be the hero at the end of it. I wish I could tell you that I sing the little "music machine" song and I no longer lose my patience with poor customer service people and phone solicitors. I am not that person. however, I believe that being a patient person is a good thing, a virtuous thing. but contrary to popular belief, I am not really a patient person. at least in my head I'm not. but what does it mean to be patient? well, I looked up the word "patience" in the dictionary and this is what I found: 1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like; 2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay; 3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence
in looking at the definition, I think even further of my inadequacies. I read it and just think of driving on the yellowhead at 8 am on a friday morning and I am the antithesis of all things patient. in that moment, stuck behind a dump truck and blocked in by idiots, I am provoked, annoyed, pained, complaining and generally I lose my temper. or, I think about trying to get out of the house with 2 kids who are pretending to zap me because they are batman and spiderman and in that moment I am not able to suppress my restlessness and annoyance when confronted with that delay. or I think about trying to potty train a little boy named ty and I know that I am not the picture of a quiet, steady perseverance, let alone even-tempered. then I threw the word into the on-line thesaurus and synonyms of the word "patience" are words like "fortitude", "perseverance", "composure". these are words/concepts that are strong character traits. these words describe who I would like to be.
I remember some time ago - like seriously before I was married, maybe even before John & I were dating, I prayed that God would give me patience [maybe it was because I had met John, liked him and totally wanted to date him!]. yeah. bad thing to ask for. in asking for patience, turns out I was asking for opportunity to practice patience! turns out though, that the more you practice, the better you get at it. okay, so in my head I feel impatient and restless all the time, but funny enough, although I feel rather inadequate in the patience department, I know that I am practicing it daily and in that practicing, some of the character of God is perhaps becoming something I reflect better than I realize.
most of the comments i get about patience from people is in the reaction I get when I tell people what I do for a living. the conversation is usually like this:
them: "a teacher. what do you teach?"
me: "yeah, I teach jr high special needs"
them: "wow, tough job. you must have a lot of patience"
and at this point I cringe. and then I think about my prayer and I think about the job I do with kids. maybe they are connected. maybe in that moment that I choose to persevere, when I choose to be even-tempered, when I choose to suppress my annoyance at their lack of ability, when I demonstrate fortitude and composure when I am screaming in my head - I am choosing to practice patience. when I choose to read with a grade 9 boy who still doesn't know that t-h-e is always the word "the" - I am choosing to practice patience. and when I walk into my classroom and create a safe and caring learning environment with my example, I get to practice patience and fortitude and hope and perseverance. and in this, I am so fortunate that I have these opportunities.
just in reflection of this, I am almost tempted to pray this prayer again. maybe instead I will pray not for more opportunity to practice patience but to demonstrate it on a more regular, consistent, daily basis. maybe I will pray that I can wait in silence when I am restless and annoyed with colleagues or family members. maybe I will pray that I will not be provoked or irritated with little things like traffic and toys on the floor or dishes that don't seem to know when to leave the dishwasher. I know, however, that with any of these prayers that God will give me opportunity to hone this skill. mmmm. so maybe it's a no-win situation. or perhaps for those of you that interact with me a win-win situation.