Patience, patience, patience
is what the sea teaches.
One should lie empty, open,
choiceless as a beach–
Waiting for a gift from the sea.
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea –
Several times in this last week I’ve had to queue up in order to complete some necessary tasks. It was a lot of waiting, but it wasn’t unexpected. After all, how many times do you walk into the grocery store, post office, the bank, or the pharmacy and NOT have to wait in line? (Yeah, I can’t think of any, either.) The absolute WORST place to wait is the Department of Motor Vehicles. I think it’s in the fine print on the forms you sign for your driver’s license that you’re going to be there for a while…
Waiting in line is not some kind of cosmic punishment, though it feels that way when I’m in mid-pity-party. It’s just a part of doing business. Depending on my patience level, it can either be a time to daydream, a time to play a game on my smart phone or read email, or to stand there grumpy, tapping my foot in exasperation. It’s not exactly productive time, but how I approach it affects how I respond to my wait.
Lately, I’ve learned from others’ examples. I take a page from the coping skills of my mom and my daughters! I knit. Or crochet. It’s doing something fairly mindless and productive, all at the same time. It usually results in a conversation with someone else in line. And the time passes with a lot less angst. And I come out of my experience with… you guessed it! A LOT more energy!
As I reflected on this, I was reminded of the Galatians passage on the Fruit of the Spirit. Yes, “patience” is in that list… and in my experience, it is usually a by-product of learning how to better reflect God’s work in my life. A lot of times people “pray for patience” but that’s not really how it works. It’s not a muscle that needs a bunch of reps. It’s one characteristic on this list of inner qualities can’t be stratified, but together, are reflections of the One Spirit that empowers me.
So this last week I had a lot of practice… was I just spinning my wheels? Or practicing the Fruit of the Spirit?
I still don’t get it right every time, but I’m learning.
Galatians 5: 16-26
I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do. But if you are being led by the Spirit, you aren’t under the Law. The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with its passions and its desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit. Let’s not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other.