I spent an entire year of my life learning patience.
Photo by: Alexandrena Parker
That may sound funny, and you may immediately think, “Ha! I’ve spent my entire life learning patience, and I still don’t get it.” And you’d be correct. I’m still learning. But there was a year of my life where, lesson after lesson, I started to realize that the intended goal of these lessons was to teach me patience.
At night, I would lay in bed, tense from the frustrations of the day. Someone wasn’t doing something on my timing, or the way I wished them to. Someone hadn’t called or I had forgotten something. Regardless of what happened, the result was the same. I ended my days frustrated and asking, “Why?!”
Silly me to assume I deserved an immediate answer to my rather ridiculous questions. And crazy me to feel like I was in a place to demand such answers.
The year of “Learning Patience” (as I call it) stripped me of these darker human emotions.
But it took a conversation.
Me: I just don’t get it! Why?! I’ve thought about it over and over, and it doesn’t make sense. AND I’VE PRAYED FOR IT.
Friend: Well, what are you praying for?
Friend: You’re praying for the wrong thing.
Me: ….what? How can you pray for the “wrong thing?” There is no right and wrong in prayer and hope.
Friend: If you pray for patience, you are asking God to put trying moments in your life so that you are provided the opportunity to learn and practice patience. You can’t just pray for patience and get it. You have to do the work in the moments that call for it.
This was the moment that I realized how silly I had been. I thought I was the “bigger person” praying for patience, when really… I was getting exactly what I was praying for and I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t willing to do the work. I wanted patience wrapped in a box with a polka-dotted bow to apply to my life as easily as spritzing Chanel No. 5 on my neck and wrists before work.
I will never forget that year of my life or that conversation. Each day that has passed since then, I ask myself what am I really praying for? What am I really in need of? What am I really hoping for? And why?
Instead of closing my eyes, clasping my hands and demanding answers from the man beyond my bedroom ceiling, I started asking myself the hard questions. I started to cut away the fat from the meat of the situation.
And it has made all the difference.