Walking back from getting coffee this past Thursday, a prayer appeared within me that took me by surprise. “Give me a patient heart,” I prayed. Curious about the phrase, I rolled it around my mind and have been doing so ever since. This 35th birthday, this is the present I seek from the divine: Give me a patient heart.
Give: let me not assume that patience is some natural trait, but rather that it is something that I must continually request; something I must receive rather than manufacture
me: as a person, a mother, a wife, a minister, a colleague, a friend, a citizen, a mortal being
a: not the but just a – the one that you seek to give me
patient: trusting not only in the end result of anything but in the process that leads to it; at peace with the absence of this desire in the now for I am trusting of the presence of this desire in the yet-to-be.
heart: the soul part of me – deeper than thought, more than just body, but the entirety of me in relation to God, others, my past self, present self, future self
As I embark upon a new year, what does it look like to pray this type of prayer for a whole year? Patience is often sought in the immediacy of the moment, when frustrations or annoyances overwhelm. Patience over a long period seems like a different kind of prayer.
Long-term patience trusts in a final completion – the hope for which one is waiting. Patience trusts in an end, a telos, a wholeness to all that we desire. Patience believes that we will ultimately see, taste, and know the glory of God revealed among us – glory that looks like justice, grace, mercy, and love. Patience trusts in our recent lectionary passage from Romans 5:1-5. It is a passage that I memorized a few weeks ago so that the words might soak into the crevices within me. Indeed, the phrases have emerged in the moments when I needed them most…
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have obtained access to the grace in which we stand;
and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not disappoint us,
because God’s love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit
that has been given to us.”
Peace with God looks like patience – no longer fearing what God might do to us or not do to us, but trusting in a God who dwells with us and is revealing a goodness of which we could never plumb the depths or reach its end.
This is what I seek. This is what I wait patiently to witness. With a job to do in the waiting, but done without a posture of urgency… except in prayer that sends me back to whispering to myself as I head back to the office, “Give me a patient heart.”