“Patience is a virtue.” Is that possibly one of the most overused cliches in existence? We’ve all heard it a million times, and whether we consider ourselves patient people or not, we know that it’s true: patience is a virtue. I remember my sophomore year of high school we read The Scarlet Letter in my language arts class, and for one of our assignments, we had to come up with our own letter that represented a personal flaw of our own to wear on our chests one school day. My letter was I for none other than impatient. I’ve always been a horribly impatient person: when I want something, I want it right then and I don’t like to wait. And over the years, that was always just a part of me. It wasn’t something I was looking to change or felt like it was necessary to change. If you asked me to describe myself, there that word was. I simply didn’t like to wait.
We were talking about the fruits of the Spirit in Sunday school a few weeks ago, and someone was asked to read aloud Galatians 5:22. They were reading from what I’m guessing was a King James Bible, so where my NIV says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…” the KJV says “long-suffering.” Which almost made me laugh, actually, because long-suffering is so how I view patience. It’s not just waiting for something, it is pure suffering. But as I’ve been really studying the fruits of the Spirit since the summer, I’ve realized more and more that impatience is not something that I can just accept about myself and think, “Ah well, it’s just a part of me.” The Lord is calling us to be patient. We see it in Galatians; in 1 Corinthians when Paul writes “Love is patient;” in Romans 12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction;” in Psalm 37, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” We are called to be patient.
About a month ago, I met with my college pastor, Rando, one afternoon about something that had been on my mind. And I’m sitting there pouring out my heart to him about that thing, and when I finally finish, the first thing he says to me is: “Let me ask you this: What’s your rush?” And that little statement got to me so much that I could have just stood up right then and said, “Thank you!” and left satisfied The bulk of that conversation was centered around the need to be patient. The need to trust in the Lord and His plan. Another thing Rando said that really got me was, “How do you know that it’s not part of God’s plan for you to wait until ____?” And I don’t know what God’s plan is. What I do know is that I can be patient and wait for it, because it will be tremendous.
That first little question gave me so much to think about, though. What was my rush? What are all of our rushes? We live in an age where everything is at our fingertips and if we have to wait even a second for it, we’re angry. We’re impatient in traffic, we don’t like to wait for our food in restaurants, we rush the seasons and the holidays (um hi, Starbucks, that pumpkin spice latte can wait until October. It’s literally not even fall yet!) We’re constantly looking at what’s next and jumping the gun. I’m guilty of it too—all I think about lately is how ready I am for next summer. But then God whispers in my ear, “Patience. Wait for it.”
So I’m learning. It’s funny because I’ve told a few of my friends, I think one of the biggest lessons I learned this summer was “Be careful what you pray for” (I’m sort of joking, but sort of serious). I have so many reasons why, but in this case, one of the things I’ve been praying for is for the Lord to teach me patience, and boy was that prayer readily answered. And these things I’m waiting for? I’m finally coming to the point where I can say, “If it’s the Lord’s will, it will happen. And I will gladly wait for that.” Learning patience is growing my trust in the Lord, and I know that He is good. Always. And after all, aren’t the better things in life the ones we have to wait for?