Cultivating Patience

Patience has never been my strong suit. I couldn’t even wait the full nine months to be born; to my parents’ surprise, I arrived over 10 weeks early, setting the tone for the rest of my life—a battle with patience and waiting for the “right time.”

I speed. I radio-station surf during commercials and annoying songs. I skip entire CD tracks to get to the one song I want to hear. I take food off of the stove because I don’t want to wait two more minutes for the plates to make it to the table. I stop my CD alarm clock in the morning when it spins up—before a single note even sounds—because I don’t want to waste any time. I even power-walk in the mall when I shop alone.

I am uncomfortable with waiting. I do not appreciate things that take time. I lack the self-control required to persevere without complaint. And I will pay a huge price if I don’t change my outlook and response to situations that call for me to pause for more than five minutes.

When we hurry something that needs more time for preparation, we risk ruining it—like cutting brownies as soon as they’re out of the oven instead of allowing time for them to cool (which I am notorious for doing). I’ve even been known to grab food out of the microwave with seconds still on the timer. What’s that about? It’s a microwave, for crying out loud. It doesn’t get much faster than that, and I can’t even wait four and a half more seconds for the timer to let me know that what I want is ready.

Our society is not one that is conducive to cultivating patience. Internet connections are at warp speed; dial-up seems to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Long distance conversations can be instant, and replies can be made and received immediately through the conveniences of email. While I don’t think that we can blame our fast-paced lifestyles for making us uncomfortable with the concept of waiting, I certainly know modern conveniences have made patience difficult for me while making my life a little “easier.” How ironic.

If I make a conscious effort to slow down and take my time, I think I will become better acquainted with the concept of waiting. I could try this by doing the speed limit (at least once in a while), listening to all the songs on a CD—even the ones that come before the one I’m anxiously waiting to crank up the volume for—and I can try and keep my paws off the hot batch of cheesecake brownies on the counter until they’ve had a chance to cool. After all, it’s just five minutes of my life. That’s nothing in the long run.

But you don’t wake up one morning, decide to be patient and BAM!—you’re patient. It’s a day-to-day, minute-by-minute, continual process. It requires daily devotion in order to develop a habit that will produce a lifestyle of patience. A man of wisdom once said that if you concentrate on being in God’s will one day from now, then you will be in His will one year from now by default. I think it works the same way with patience. If you make an effort each day, in the little things, to exercise patience, then you will be a more patient person one year from now, and it will all seem like an effortless part of your life because you’ve adapted the way you perceive circumstances and react to situations.

[Dottie Hutcherson is a senior English and writing major at Indiana Wesleyan University. You waited until the end of the article to read this bio. Congratulations. You get a gold star.]

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