Our society isn’t the most patient. I watched a flurry of activity on Facebook last week as people scrambled to order the new iphone6. And then I watched the flurry of complaints when they discovered it was bendable.
I remember waiting to buy our first home and feeling like everyday we were in a parsonage was just one more day of torture. I was so impatient, so eager to have what we desired.
No patience to talk? Just text.
No patience for the page to load online? Just refresh it every second and a half because your brain actually thinks this will make a difference (This sentence was for you Nathan…it drives me crazy…you must stop.)
If I want to see the epitome of impatience—both mine and the rest of society’s—all I need to do is go to the post office. It’s like we unite in brother and sisterhood as we stand in the ridiculously long lines and complain together about how slow the post office is…
Immediacy is our language and anything that isn’t immediate is outdated. Likewise, anything that isn’t immediate makes us impatient. And so, impatience has always been negative to me. It’s been something we are supposed to work on. Something that must be eradicated from my life. After all, the fruit of the Spirit is patience. So if I’m impatient, I must be out of the Spirit.
But then again, what if we can take this part of the American DNA and offer it up to God for His glory?
I shared this week that I just picked up Platt’s Radical and Chan’s Forgotten God. I’ve read the latter but not the former and the two authors seem to like each other in real life, so I was thinking their books might be complimentary. I had no idea that side by side they were like dynamite and a match. My heart exploded. Which is good, because it was feeling a little bit like empty space and so I’m quite content that this empty vessel is now shattered into a million pieces because I plan on giving every single piece away. After I get some things in order, you know? Later. When the kids are older. When our house is paid off. Or when I finally reach this goal I had for myself…
And that first step in my ‘now’ was initiating a conversation with the husband again that went like this, “I know you only had four hours to find a house, but did it have to be so gigantic? Every time we have people over, I feel like I want to vomit. It’s so much house that I get embarrassed. I think we should sell it.”
And he replies, “Marian, we couldn’t buy a house half this size for what we owe on it. Interest rates are higher. We are close to work; we live in the neighborhood we are called to serve. And we have five kids. It kind of fits our family.”
To which I respond, “Then if you aren’t going to sell the house we have to stop inviting people over.”
“Or,” he pauses, hoping my intelligence has kicked back in, “we could use the house for God’s purposes. We could ask Him what he wants us to do with all this space.”
There is that.
But it’s easier and less embarrassing to sell the house.
Anyhow, while we are praying through this nauseating space and what we are supposed to do with it, we have also signed up for foster care classes thanks to a friend who—over FaceTime, oceans, and continents—said to me last week, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were families waiting, waiting, waiting, for kids instead of children waiting, waiting, waiting for families?”
Wouldn’t it be cool if families were impatient for the opportunity to foster children?
Today I ran into a new online boutique opened by an author who traveled to Uganda. She was struck by the poverty there (you need to read this). Her impatience with their condition inspired her to go back home and wait for someone else to fix it. No…not at all. She went back home and immediately began working to open a nonprofit with the intention of saving these families—preventing orphans through the empowerment of mothers.
I saw one of my son’s friends walking home last night. It was dark. He was walking slowly. There was something sad to his stride. I’ve been meaning to talk with him and share with him my story. But I know it might make both of us uncomfortable. Still, I think God wants this kid to know that He accepts everyone—impatiently waiting for them to accept His love. And I think my story will show this kid that truth. But I’ve been waiting. Too long I’ve been waiting. What about some holy impatience? What if I needed–what if i couldn’t sleep–until I had talked to this kid?
See, here’s the trap of my impatience. I’m impatient for the things I want. BUT…what if I become impatient for the things God asks.
This summer I saw and listened to a message in the Dominican based on Ephesians 2… 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Everyday things that God prepared in advance for me to do. It’s like Christmas everyday. I can open my eyes and wonder, “What do you want to gift me with today? What are we doing together on this Friday in September?”
Christmas morning is the earliest morning of the year at my house. The kids can’t wait to open presents and—honestly—Nathan and I can’t wait to watch them.
What if I had that same, holy impatience toward everyday life? People are waiting. They are hurting. They are needing. And my creativity can find ways to help. People are lonely and insecure and purposeless, and my time can lend at ear to their fears.
What if I stopped waiting until there was a better time?
What if I stopped waiting until the kids were older?
What if I started trusting God and the gifts he has prepared for me—the good works that were designed just for my personality, just for our life together—and pursued them with holy impatience, refusing to rest until I had satisfied His desire? Yes.
What if I refused to rest until I had satisfied His desire?
I think I’m impatient for all the wrong things. Show me what can’t wait, Lord.
One last thought. My youngest child is the most impatient of them all. She’s forever wanting me for something, needing me for something. Can’t she see that I’m trying to finish working? Trying to get dinner going? Trying to fold laundry? Trying to educate her brothers?
But this morning I considered what she’s most impatient for. The answer: time with me. She pulls at my sleeve to get me to play. She stand beside me at my desk and yells for me to come eat with her. She throws shoes against the door impatient for me to take her outside.
So let’s rename impatience. Let’s call this desire of immediacy hunger. And let’s look at our lives and admit, “I’m starving–ravenous–and everything I’ve been feasting on leaves me hungrier. Lord, rather than ask for a healthier diet to consume, I pray you include me in the feast. Let me be one of the delicacies that others consume.” It’s kind of carnal, but I think you get the idea. In other words, help me forget my immediate hunger and give me the strength to feed those who are hungry. How? Some radical life in the Spirit.