Patient Words (and Actions)
by Debbie Wright
Assistant Editor, Crosswalk.com
I have a small wooden square (modeled after a scrabble tile) inscribed with the mantra “Patient Words.” But before I tell you about that, let me tell you a story about someone who probably doesn’t have one.
One morning a few weeks back I was driving to work on the ever-bustling 95 South. At one particular point I found myself in the middle lane behind a big truck about the size of a fed-ex truck. The driver was going a little slow, as large trucks tend to. However, enter the sedan in the left lane, which was driving around the same speed . About five over the limit, but decidedly too slow for the bustling left lane during morning rush hour.
Enter second sedan in the left lane, who found himself stuck behind the slower car. I watched with disappointment (but interest, nonetheless) as this driver made the conscious decision to tailgate the slower car, and it was almost a little surreal. He zoomed up behind the slower car, getting so close that he had to apply his brakes two separate times.
I often forget to pay attention to things. “Noticing” is not a strong point of mine. I know tailgating is something that happens, especially in big cities full of impatient drivers. But this was the first time I’d ever noticed it happen. It was kind of appalling.
Meanwhile, back to the story. The big truck in the middle lane was watching too, and he eventually got the drift: people were unable to pass. So he decided to move over to another lane, allowing the tailgating car to pass into the middle lane and race ahead. Through his patience, observance, and understanding, this truck driver made allowances for both the aggression of the tailgater and the carelessness of the slow-moving car.
It was an odd exchange to watch. It made me think about a few things. Mostly about how impatient we are all of the time.
“But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” –Psalms 86:15
It can be hard to assume the compassion and grace of God. They are intrinsic aspects of his nature. But sin has made our patience a much more difficult thing to master!
I was recently in a play with a small group made up of young adults. Most of us have been together for a long time; we’ve grown to learn patience with each other’s quirks. It’s not always easy, though, especially during the harrowing “Tech” experience, which happens the week before Friday night’s opening performance.
During this particular Tech week I kept my small wooden tile with me which I had picked up at church. It has “Patient Words” written on it with sharpie. I made the tile for myself in an exercise during the sermon because I wanted patient words for my life. Little did I know how handy of a reminder it would be for me during Tech! I often found myself running to grab the tile out of my bag to clutch it in my more frustrated, weary moments. Sometimes we even passed it around, recognizing that we all desperately need reminders for patience and grace.
Intersecting Faith and Life
Are you more like that speeding, tailgating car? Or have you found a way to remind yourself to have patience? If you are prone to impatience with others, find a way today to make a reminder for yourself. Patience is not something which magically develops because we pray for it. It must be practiced.
For Further Reading
1 Corinthians 13