Monday, March 08, 2010

THE PAIN OF PATIENCE

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” ~ Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Patience is a multipurpose thread sewn into the fabric of our lives. It makes us strong— and yet soft. It holds us together and gives us the ability to cover others.
The weaving of patience is intricate and sometimes difficult. The needle pricks and stings. But in the end we will enjoy the masterpiece it has made of our lives.

Patience with Circumstances

I once had an heirloom fig sprout that came from my grandmother’s tree. I planted it in my yard and babied it until it actually had a few leaves. In a way, it kept my grandmother close.

Our yard was large and Neal bought a riding lawn mower. I don’t know what happens to a man’s psyche when gas fumes and wheels get together, but he mowed that yard like he was in NASCAR. I heard him fire up the engine and my first thought was, fig tree!

I ran outside and frantically waved my hands but his focus was on that first lap not on me or on my tree. It was gone. Cut off in the sprig of life. Everything screamed its over and I believed it.

But nature is patient and determined. What I didn’t know is that life continued where I couldn’t see, hidden in the darkness of earth. My fig’s roots continued to grow strong and one day, barely visible in the grass were two tiny fig leaves!

My tree survived and grew. Not only was it like having my grandmother close by but it also reminded me that things are not always as they appear.

Patience has to be exercised.

I’ve been strength training. It’s hard. I can think of a lot more fun things I’d rather be doing! But after a few weeks lifting weights gets easier, that is until five more pounds are added to the barbell. I grunt, sweat, grit my teeth (hey, we are talking about ten pounds here!) and want to just drop those stupid weights and quit. Sometimes I do, for a little while. But the truth is, I can’t quit. And the end result makes me stronger.

Patience is a lot like that. I’ve been grappling with one circumstance for twenty years. It is one of those “one step forward, two steps back” kind of things. And over the years the waltz has continually danced backward. I want to quit and sometimes I do. But not for long. I can’t.

I cry out, “How long will this take?” The answer? “As long as it takes.” I have a choice. Will I exercise patience and let it make me stronger? Or will I quit? Either way, just like the fig tree, it will eventually work out. The question is what will I become in the process? Will I allow my life to be darkened or deepened?

Patience is an active practice that flies in the face of circumstances. It gives us the upper hand, the victory within our souls. And remember, that is where life resides— not in our circumstances.

Next week: Patience with People 

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