Give Me Patience and I Want It NOW!
As we look for work, wait for that anticipated raise (in this economy…right!) or hope for the right opportunity to arrive, we are forced to be patient. We set some expectations for ourselves and sometimes even attach a timeline to it. If we opt NOT to be patient, we set ourselves up for failure. We tee ourselves up for the perfect dose of disappointment. And from there to anger and resentment is a very short hop.
I spent some time thinking about this and wondered, “What is it about waiting or not getting things when I expect them that really irks me?”
With a little reflection I came up with the following. I’m thinking the problem lies in our inherent selfishness. This isn’t something we develop over time, it’s something we bring from the factory. What’s a little kid do when they don’t get their way? They cry, nag and make life difficult for the parent. Unless the parent gives in or gives ‘em a swat, they’ll keep at until they get their way.
Let me walk you through my thinking on this. My wife and I had a poster in our bedroom with words from St. Paul’s Love Poem. You’ve probably heard it,
“Love is patient, love is kind…it is not self seeking…” 1 Corinthians 13, 4-5
Prior to reading that, I didn’t really connect patience with love and selfishness, but they’re connected alright. If I love or accept someone, I decide to appreciate them as someone special despite any defects or shortcomings I know they have. (Who doesn’t have defects right?) When I love someone, I decide on things that don’t always make sense. I put someone’s needs ahead of my own. I take risks to keep someone safe and secure which might just include throwing myself in front of a train on their behalf. We basically decide that the other person is more important than ourselves.
So what’s this all got to do with patience. Well I’m seeing a lack of patience in a job search, career, anything as not quite loving or accepting what’s been tossed our way. It’s like when you get dealt a sorry hand in a card game. You typically play the hand as best you can knowing you’ll get better hand next time.
Life is going to happen to us. Sometimes it will be to our liking. Sometimes it won’t. I guess that’s why they invented the bumper sticker, “Shit happens.” (Sorry if the profanity offends you. I couldn’t think of another bumper sticker that fits so well here.) We can freak out and mentally demand that the circumstances change, but that’s only going to make things worse. You know what? A job hunt that’s going to take 18 months is going to take 18 months. We’d love to know it’s going to take the 18 months before it happens, but we never get that luxury.
So we have a choice. We can embrace what is and accept it (even if reluctantly) in hopes of learning what is to be learned. We can explore what it brings out of us and find opportunities to better ourselves in one way or another. We can accept (and even love) this unwelcomed time off and look expectantly to the future when things will be better. Then when it’s all over, you can look back proudly on what you have become.
I saw a Joan Allen and Kevin Cosner movie back in 2005 called “The Upside of Anger.” It has an awesome lesson I’ve wanted to write about, but I haven’t figured out a way to do without ruining the ending. (The impact of the movie’s ending is unbelievable. Go rent it.) But it does have a final message narrated by one of the characters that applies perfectly right here,
“Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That’s what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It’s real, though – the fury, even when it isn’t. It can change you… turn you… mold you and shape you into something you’re not. The only upside to anger, then… is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they’re not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story.”
I hope patience is something you can come appreciate and cherish. You can be a better person for having passed through the struggle that these difficult times have sprung upon you.
Hope this helps.