Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lord, give me patience... NOW!!!

Well, this is the "reflection/discernment post" I've been promising. (So if you just check in here for the cute pictures and updates on our family, you might want to skip this long, rambly one.)

First, a confession. I broke my finger because I was being impatient... and ridiculous... and not the greatest parent on the planet. You see, we were headed for a Little Saints Club activity -- a post-4th of July bike parade. Instead of having the boys help me get everything ready, I planted them in front of the TV while I loaded the bikes, helmets, decorating items, snacks, water bottles, ..... Then I had to extricate them from the TV, make them get their shoes on and go to the bathroom, sunscreen them.... It was the sunscreen that ultimately did me in. Adam was done and buckled in the car. Ray was having a fit about something and was dancing around and giving me a hard time about getting sunscreen. My hands were full of sunscreen. I had had enough. I yelled at him. I told him to come to me. He, of course, didn't. I went to grab him by the shorts so I could pull him toward me. As I grabbed for his shorts, I twisted my finger wrong. I heard it snap. I felt it break. And I didn't even get enough hold on the shorts to pull Ray to me anyway.

It was such a dumb moment. I lost my cool. I knew right away that it was broken... because I was impatient.

When will I learn?

We weren't late for a state dinner or anything. I just wanted to get to the park. I just wanted them to listen. I just wanted things done my way. (Yet I hadn't really engaged them in the process or taken the time to make the preparations a team effort.)

This is really becoming a lifelong challenge for me. I know that God wants me to practice patience. He wants me to let go of too much planning, worrying, organizing, hurrying, .... I'm always racing to the next thing and I very often miss the gift of the present moment.

My broken finger, still in it's little plastic splint, has been a consistent reminder to me of the importance of patience. When it has throbbed, itched, and made things more difficult, I have tried to offer up the discomfort in atonement for my many, many, many transgressions against the virtue of patience. I have been reflecting and praying about patience quite a bit.

This quote by Saint Francis deSales has been helpful for me:
"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew."

Indeed, I am often impatient with others (especially my boys). But, perhaps more significantly, I am so impatient with myself. I sometimes get irritated when others aren't organized enough or fast enough, but I never expect other people to "have it all together" the way I expect myself to. My expectations ---mostly of myself --- sometimes get so far "out of whack" and I need to re-focus and reign some things in.

I continued to struggle with this "patience" issue as I helped with VBS last week. A few months ago I agreed to help with this program even though I didn't really want to. It was my own inner drive to please everyone and do everything that led me to agree to it. Then, when I experienced disorganization and lack of communication from the leaders of the program, my frustrations and impatience grew and grew. My crazy perfectionism and need to be over-organized, over-planned, over-planned, and over-prepared just added to the tension and stress.

I struggled with the question, "Why am I doing this?" I went back and forth between feeling resentful and beating myself up for not being able to say no AND feeling thankful for the gifts I've been given and the opportunity to minister in this way. Did I do VBS because I wanted to please people or because God called me to do it? My loving, wise husband helped me to see that the answer is "BOTH." He helped me see that God gifted me and called me and even equipped me for the job. I am happy with how the lessons went, but I know that in some ways I really blew it. I think I did a good job for the children, but I know I made it very difficult for God to teach me what I needed to learn.

Impatience and resentment made my heart hard. I ended up judging and complaining about others instead of whole-heartedly committing to the message of the program. I pushed myself above and beyond what was asked of me.. trying to make it look like I have it all together (as usual).

But God always has a way of getting through to the heart of the matter. Each day the simple lessons I taught to the little ones (and especially the little mishaps and adjustments that had to be made) reminded me that it's not about having it all together. It's all about Jesus... and our love for him and his love for us. He is so very patient with us. We don't need to dazzle or impress him. We just need to be here - in the present moment - with him, just as we are. He always meets me in the messy, crazy places of my life and he is always so calm and patient.

As Saint Francis deSales said, we just need to work on our imperfections patiently - again and again every day. That is what I'm trying to do. I've been praying the following prayer (which I found at -- ):

Blessed Mary, Mother of Consolation, pray with me for the virtue of patience. There are so many times when my lack of patience keeps me from becoming the kind of person God wants me to be.

Guide my thoughts to you and the example we have in your own life. Help me to become patient, as you were patient. Through your guidance, may I become more accepting of others around me. Assist me to welcome difficult times with a patient heart.

May I be patient, Mary, as was your beloved husband, Joseph. His quiet acceptance of the will of Our Loving Father should be an example for me always. His patience was most wonderful in the eyes of God.

Pray for me, dear Mother of God, that I will allow the Father to come into my heart and help me grow in patience. Amen.

And so, please pray for me. Know that I pray for you, my readers, all the time too. This Christian journey is a long and windy one. (Just like this post!) Thank God we're in it together.

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