Practicing Patience

June 30, 2014 at 5:15 am 1 comment


Patience 1The other day, I drove down to the Social Security office to apply to get a Social Security card for my daughter, Hope.  Because she is adopted, she did not get one issued to her at the hospital.  While I was on my way to visit my local friendly government agency, the skies opened up, thunder clapped, and rain poured down, slowing traffic to a crawl.

Now, usually, I hate being stuck in traffic.  I’m always looking for a way to weave in and out of traffic and find that elusive lane that is going 40 miles per hour faster than all the other lanes.  But not so on this day.  It was raining so hard that, quite frankly, I was glad traffic was moving at a snail’s pace.  I’d rather slosh down the road slowly and arrive safely at my destination than try to gun it and wind up in a wreck.

As I sat there contentedly in a sea of brake lights, my thoughts were drawn to the virtue of patience.  After all, for once in my life, I actually felt patient.  Here is what I realized in my moments spent reflecting: the virtue of patience leads to other virtues.  It is what I call a “funnel virtue.”  That is, if you practice patience, it will funnel you in to other important virtues.

For instance, take the virtue of responsibility.  At the end of the day, my wife directs Hope to clean up her toys.  But directing a one-year-old to clean up toys is never an easy – or a quick – task.  Hope will drop a toy in her toy basket only to immediately pull it out again.  But Melody knows it’s important to teach Hope responsibility.  But to teach the virtue responsibility, Melody first needs to exercise the virtue of patience (which she does marvelously, by the way).  Patience funnels into responsibility.

Or how about the virtue of joy?  The disease of road rage is well documented.  Drivers lose their minds because they feel the person in front of them is going too slow.  But what would happen if they were patient?  Perhaps they would rediscover the joy of a Sunday drive – motoring down the road more to take in the sights rater than to reach a destination.  Patience could funnel into joy.

Then, of course, there is the virtue of love.  There is perhaps no better expression of love than patience.  This is why the very first virtue that Paul uses to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is, “Love is patient.”  To be patient with someone teaches you to love someone because it forces you to put someone else’s pace and schedule above of and in front of your own.

Finally, patience also can serve as a funnel to fuller faith.  Right now, we are in the process of buying a new home.  I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed to God for an answer about something pertaining to this process…right now!  God is answering my requests in some pretty miraculous ways, just not according to my schedule.  And I am having to remember and re-learn that God really does have this all under control and I can trust Him to work things out.  But here’s the key:  the longer I have to wait on Him, the more I learn to trust Him.  Patience funnels into faith.

As it turns out, when I got to the Social Security office, I was not able to get a card for Hope.  The documentation requirements that I read in the Social Security brochure did not match the documentation requirements they had at the Social Security office.  I left empty handed with an errand list of other government agencies I had to visit to get the required documents.  I had wasted my time.  And I found I was not nearly as patient on the way back from the Social Security office as I was on the way to the Social Security office.

Perhaps my patience funnel still has room to expand.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. irene mcintosh  |  June 30, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I enjoyed the way you tied patience to other virtues. I hadn’t thought of that before. The last comment about your patience funnel expanding made me smile. Perhaps another time you can write about the process of “practicing” patience. I know it doesn’t just happen. How do we go about learning, developing, expanding our ability to be patient?

    Reply

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