Friday, August 22, 2008

patience

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.

2 comments:

susan santos said...

Cor, I appreciate your post. It is tough...you are not alone. At least you pray for patience and God will hear your prayer. We are works in progress, constantly learning, constantly making mistakes but constantly forgiven thankfully.

swandive_pixie said...

Yes, thanks for the post. It definitely got me thinking. I have very little patience, too... and I get really down on myself about it. I've noticed as the years go on, I have less and less. Mindfulness is important ;)