“Love is patient.”
Last week I introduced the concept of patience as the ability to be content with lack as you wait upon the Lord to bring you supply. Now I’d like to delve into some of the ramifications of this waiting period — learning how to enjoy the “meantime”. Specifically, three points came to me as I was pondering this “in the meantime” aspect of patience.
Goals vs. seasons
We often tend to think of life as a series of goals to be accomplished (especially the men in our midst!), and while that line of thinking has many fine points, it can be rather destructive in the context of relationships. Love is patient. Love is not afraid of waiting. Love looks not towards the end result of a task completed but towards the transformation and enlightenment that occurs along the way. It’s all about the season of life you are in — the journey, not the destination. When the proper time arrives, you may discover that you have reached your “destination” without even realizing it! I often marvel at how unexpected and unusual the journey has been that brought me to where I am today, and I’ve grown to expect that future destinations will require an equal dose of “circumstantial uncertainty” — or adventure as Mark Batterson defines it.
Different people take different amounts of time to process ideas or things that happen. Now I’ve always been very good at moving fast, making decisions fast, and trying out new things or new approaches. I hate feeling like I’m just standing still. It bothers me whenever I leave questions unresolved. It’s taken me a while to realize this, but I’m not ashamed of my personality — God created me this way for a reason. The challenge lies in recognizing that my timetable isn’t always someone else’s timetable. I may need to wait. I may need to take a step back. I may need to give someone some space for a while. Patience in this sense is the grace to allow someone to walk along a path for a while until they get to the next junction — and not give into the pressure to hurry them along. And who knows? You might just find that as you spend some time to rest and admire the scenery, you’ll be glad you weren’t in a hurry!
I’ll have more to say on this in future posts, but serving someone requires a great deal of patience. You are setting aside your needs in order to accommodate someone else’s. Having a servant’s heart requires the ability to say “I can put my dreams, my ego, my wants, my desires aside for a while. This is your time. Right now, it’s all about you, not me.”
Jesus spent three years of his life hanging out with some of the dopiest dunderheads around. I mean, seriously, those guys were clueless. Here they were, constantly beholding the miracle-working power and Spirit-filled glory of the Son of God, receiving hands-on teaching that you and I could only dream of having, and most of the time they were grumbling and complaining and doubting and missing the point of the whole exercise. And lest you think I’m casting stones, I’m an even dopier dunderhead than they! What amazes me is how patient Jesus was! He never gave up, he never faltered, he never changed his mind. He came as the servant of all, and he modeled servitude and servant leadership to his disciples in a way that still imparts age-old and priceless wisdom to us today. If Jesus never gave up on his disciples and took them all the way from poor, unremarkable fishermen and scheming tax-collectors to world-famous, culture-shifting, empire-changing apostles, then how can I follow Jesus and not emulate his example of selfless, understanding, patient love?
Serve others. Give people time to process. Discern the season you are in and learn from it. Enjoy life “in the meantime.” You’ll find yourself a much happier person.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Stay tuned for the next installment!