Practicing patience

I think I’m a remedial student when it comes to the virtue of patience. As much as I think I am relaxed in most circumstances, I am surprised when I find myself anxious and frustrated.

As I got in line at the grocery store the other day, I could see the large, dark clouds gathering above. While the drive home was a short three minutes away, I did feel a bit annoyed as the woman in front of me allowed her child to reach into the cart and put things on the conveyor belt. In looking back, the small child was rather cute, and had to step up on the rail of the cart above the wheels in order to be tall enough to reach a hand over the side of the cart to pull whatever was high enough to grasp. One item at a time was all the child could handle. Thankfully the woman was putting most of the items on the conveyor, but the slow pace of the child, as well as the woman keeping an eye out, seemed to make her progress slow. I made it home just as large drops of rain started coming down from the sky, but at least it was before the heavens really opened up for it to pour. It was a little exercise, a practice in patience, and I felt like I failed it. Who cares if I get a little wet bringing in the groceries? It’s not like anything I have will melt in the rain. I didn’t have a long journey home, and while I don’t like thunderstorms, being in a car is probably the safest place I can be. Even though my irritation was minor, it’s that much less peace I have for whenever the next practice of patience comes my way.

Patience is a key virtue for letting go and letting God handle your life. I pray for it every morning, “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.” Yet even when I know there is nothing I can do, instead of relaxing and looking at the change of routine as an opportunity for a different perspective, I am anxious and feel troubled and frustrated. Waiting for a repair person is something that should not bring stress and worry, and yet it does. Even when a window of time is given, it makes every minute waiting both an eternity and lightning fast. Every time I check out the window for the company’s van, I feel like I’m checking a pot on the stove to see if it’s boiling yet. The repair person will not come any quicker if I continue to look out the window. My home is not that big that I cannot hear the doorbell from every room in the house. As the minutes tick by, it’s hard not to think about the possibility of what’s wrong and how much it will be to fix it. All of it is out of my hands. I cannot affect any of it. So why is my peace so disturbed? Why can’t I relax and let God handle everything? And then I remember: this is practice, perhaps even a little exam in patience. 

I can’t control or affect the weather. I need to be mindful of it, but I cannot fear it or let worry about it run my life. And like the weather, there is a plethora of things that are outside of my control. The only thing I can control is my response to them. God, in His eternal wisdom, will continue to try and teach me to rely on Him. I am thankful He chooses these types of challenges for me, and thankful that He is merciful when my response is less than what it should be. 

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