By Kelly Carr
Perhaps you’ve seen this little party favor toy that kids receive: a disc is encased in plastic with small metal balls inside; you tilt the disc, aiming to land all the balls into round slots. It’s usually easy to get the first in. The trick is keeping that one in place while you corral the others. This takes time.
I’ll never forget sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table one summer day of childhood, getting frustrated by such a toy. I slammed it down, giving up. Gran said, “Kelly, you can do it. You just have to be patient.”
Oh, how I’ve heard Gran’s words come back to me many, many times over the years. Still I have yet to master her lesson.
I Can’t Wait
A friend told me about the slow pace of life when she lived in Russia. She said people didn’t have long daily to-do lists because errands may involve long waits or the people in charge may simply close up shop for the day. I can’t imagine such a culture!
I am ridiculously impatient at times. I want the fastest way to get tasks done. I get vocal when I’m stopped at too many red lights. When a web page won’t load, I huff. I mutter when the grocery line I didn’t choose moves faster than the one I’m in.
So why am I writing an article on patience? I have no idea!
There are certain things we can’t learn while speeding high octane through life at supersonic levels. I’ve heard in a sermon (or two) that God may allow things to happen to slow us down. (Confession: that’s why I don’t often pray for patience—I’m afraid God will grant me patience-inducing scenarios.)
Consider God’s creation of the Sabbath. Stopping all work for a day certainly required patience. And trust. Trust that God was in charge even when his people took a break.
The concept of Sabbath is a principle we can weave into daily life. When we are faced with waiting—whether in large or small ways—we can either drive ourselves crazy trying to fight our situations or we can accept where we are and determine to learn while things are on pause. We can trust that God is still working.
I think that’s what patience truly is—an acceptance of current circumstances and admitting that this isn’t our plan, but we are willing to live in it and grow from it.
I just read a book where the Latin phrase festina lente was used. It is said to be an oxymoron: “make haste slowly.” I take it to mean being vigilant and active but proceeding carefully and with precision.
So if I put aside my need for speed and I patiently slow down to look around, festina lente, what will I observe? What will I learn from God?
Um . . . I’m not sure yet. Let me try that for more than a half hour and get back to you on what I discover. In the meantime, maybe you can try this active patience concept as well and share your wisdom with me.
For now, I’ve got to go. There’s a frustrating children’s toy that I need to (patiently) tackle.