To practice patience as a mother of three young children felt like either a much-needed focus or an exercise in futility and frustration. John O’Donohue told Krista Tippett in his 2105 interview, “Stress is a perverted relationship with time.” I love that interview, but its truth can feel ironic on all the mornings when boys must be dressed, fed, and teeth brushed in order to leave by a specific time. How would John O’Donohue have phrased it differently if had to repeatedly tell his children to get their shoes on and not get toothpaste all over the walls? No matter how much time I spend in prayer in the mornings, living in a time-obsessed society can dismantle all the patience I have.
But my Easter practices invited me to live into this virtue as I prayed all week, “God, can you dissolve my anger when delay and difficulty disrupt the journey?”
To practice patience is to remember hope. “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25). If. There are some days when hope feels like a choice, a privilege, a gift. Hope invites me to live into the alternative narrative: all is well as we wait, even as all is not yet well. Hope is a daily invitation which I must acknowledge and accept.
To practice patience is remind myself of the promise where rest is found.
To practice patience is to change my relationship with time.
When the journey holds delay and difficulty, it is tempting to throw up on my hands in defeat. When mornings are most difficult, it is tempting to lean into my anger and my seemingly-well-earned frustration. Anger over injustice breeds repentance. But anger over the imperfections of myself and others breeds pride, hatred, and isolation.
This Easter reality grounds me as an abiding branch on the life-giving vine, tended to by the Good Gardener. When I can abide in who I am and whose I am, then delay and difficulty are not the whole narrative. Delay and difficulty are not the faults of another. Delay and difficulty can never take away the good news of resurrection.
It is the promise that frees me.
The promise allows me to extend my hands in resilient kindness. I can lower my voice, letting the angry yell dissipate into a gentle whisper. I can practice stubborn gentleness, for I know that the journey’s delay and difficulty cannot overwhelm the joy that lies ahead of us. I can live with persevering devotion and a patient heart.
Even with all of the beauty of God’s creation in full bloom, there is no greater beauty than human beings practicing patience with one another. There is no more abundant glory than when we, as branches, reflect God’s steadfast devotion and become people of resilient kindness, stubborn gentleness, and persevering devotion who love one another.
Love. May there always be enough time to love.