Simple Patience

In the summer of 1983, my impatience took an ugly turn in the middle of the Congo. In the middle of a missions trip showing the JESUS film in remote villages. (I know you’re jealous of my evening sweat sock attire). Near the end of our trip, I was recovering from a bout of malaria and waited with my teammates for a cargo truck—eleven hours behind schedule because of a flat tire—to take us to a village with a bus headed for the capital city.image0-1_2

Exhausted, sore, and famished, I let the students board the bus ahead of me. Just as I lifted my backpack into the stairwell of the bus, a Congolese woman with a chicken under one arm and a bag strapped on the other wedged her lithe body in front of me. I couldn’t believe her rudeness. Her forceful jostling sparked instinctive fear in me over losing a seat on the bus. I lightly poked my elbow into her back and stammered for words she’d understand in Francophone Africa. I shouted, “Excusez vous!” Not excusez moi, but excuse YOU!

I wanted to scream, “Out of my way-y-y-y-y,” as we twist in a luggage gridlock, but she held a beady-eyed chicken under her arm and gave me a vexing look of a disgruntled witch doctor.

At that moment in that dusty Congolese village, all vestiges of patience drained from my being. But just as quickly as evil thoughts lined up like wallflowers in my head, I sensed God’s calming spirit. I chose to let this stranger board ahead of me, even if it meant I’d be left in the village for another miserable day of waiting.

Thankfully, God saved me a seat that morning, and more importantly, He increased my understanding that waiting refines in us the character of patience. Bit by bit, waiting for people to show up, waiting when we’re literally sick and tired, and waiting when we’re pushed outside our comfort zone can sand off our edginess. Nineteenth-century theologian Horace Bushnell explained, “The greatest and sublimest power is often simple patience.”

Simple patience. Take it from sometimes impatient me, there’s power in standing up to haste and irritability in life’s waits, even if we encounter pushy, poultry-toting strangers.

What trips you up when it comes to staying calm and sensible? How to you handle the times when you want to shout, “Out of my way”?

 

Adapted from Two Days Longer by Beth Lueders, (Howard Publishing, 2006), pages 112-116.

Brave and Resilient Tip #76: Take time to practice the power of simple patience.

Let’s Talk

Changing Seasons of Our Lives

Q. What about the changes of new seasons of our lives – how do I navigate that?

A. Let’s Talk! Change is in the air, literally! With the arrival of fall, we are reminded of the four seasonal changes AND the seasons of our own lives. Are you in the spring of your life or somewhere between fall and winter? One of our readers left a comment about trying to help an elderly friend cope with her season of life. There is a lot to process “to be okay” in the season of life you in which you find yourself. Every season has its challenges. Those raising young children find their challenges exhausting and overwhelming in our culture. Senior citizens face failing health, financial uncertainty, and losses including the death of their spouse, friends, and even their own death. Those in a season in between these two have mammoth challenges for finding meaning in their work world and relationships, their mark, their place, their identity.

A small percent of the population even experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. But, a bottom line is: Are you going to choose to let the season of your year or the season of your years dictate your mood? Your mental health? Your joy?

I wanted someone in the spring season of life to share a bit – and thought of my daughter, Blythe Daniel (http://www.facebook.com/momstogether). She is a mom of three small children and she is in her early 40’s. Overwhelming. When I talked to her today she was in between caring for her children and herself with some things that could slow her down with her own body and needs. I thought it was time for her to share!  Blythe, tell us a little about your “season”:

“Thanks, Mom. I think the word I feel about the season is perseverance. Persevering when I don’t see the results I’d like to see some days. Trusting that God holds us close even when we feel like he’s far away and we have more “to do” than we have hours in the day. There are days when I feel like all I do is pick up toys, face piles of laundry, dishes, meals, and more. But I know that this “season” I’m in is very short-lived. Soon the kids will be preparing their own meals, doing their own laundry, and out with their friends and I will be wishing these moments back in my life. Why can’t we be content in the season we’re in?

We seem to always want to peek around the corner to see if it looks better over there, and step our toes into it and catch a breath of fresh air. But what if God is reminding us that he hasn’t put us there yet? If we skip ahead, we will miss what is in this season. The smiles, the giggles, the hugs. If you look up persevere in the dictionary, you find: “continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.” That’s it! We are supposed to stay on the course even if we think it’s not going to lead to success or reward or anything that would signify glorious. Have patience and know that God will be with you in all seasons and he will use your current season in your life in ways you never thought possible. Like a child, don’t we usually run to have our needs met when we’re in pain, uncomfortable, or don’t know how to do something? Oh, that we would be this type of person who is patient and pursues others so that they would find someone who truly wants to be “in season” with them. This is my favorite song right now that I listen to several times a day. From Matt Maher’s song “Lord I Need You,” comes this: “Where grace is found is where you are, Where you are, Lord, I am free, Holiness is Christ in me.”

For Deeper Reflection

2 Timothy 4: 2 “. . . be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Please share your season of life with us in the Comments section and we’ll post!

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

 

 

 

Lean In, Listen Closely

Yesterday I got lost on an elevator. Well, lost between floors one and four. I was stopping by my doctor’s office and pressed the elevator’s 3 button. When I reached the third floor, no office looked familiar. I got back on the elevator and pressed 2. Nope, still not right. Back to 3. Come on! Finally, I pressed 1 and slipped in the ground level pharmacy to ask for directions. Fourth floor? I didn’t even see a button for 4. In my harried pace, I lost my orientation and a chunk of my patience in a 4×4 elevator box.

When I wrote in my book Two Days Longer, about staying resilient in life’s waits, I shared the following story about finding our way ahead. Erik Weihenmayer of Denver, Colo., became the first blind person to conquer the revered mountain.

A few day after Erik stood on the famous peak, the world-class athlete rested at the base of Everest and talked by telephone with CNN anchor Carol Lin. Having lost his sight at age thirteen, Erik redefined for the whole world what it means to be blind.

In the CNN interview Erik quickly gave credit to his twenty-plus Everest teammates and his generous sponsors, including the National Federation of the Blind. When Carol asked the adventure climber what he relied upon to get to the summit, Erik eagerly described what helped him “see” over steep terrain riddled with icefalls and massive crevasses.

iStock_000007747335Small“I follow somebody who climbs in front of you with a bell. And they jingle a bell from their ice ax or from their ski pole or from whatever there. They’ll just hold it. And I’ll listen to them, and they’ll call out directions,” Erik explained. “They’ll say, ‘big drop off’ or ‘steep climb’ . . . and sometimes you’re crossing these very narrow snow bridges. So they tell me exactly where to step.”

Sometimes, as we wait, our perceptions get distorted and we can’t see God. We can lose sight of our path and slip off into harrowing crevasses of anger, despair, and apathy. But somehow, just when we think we’re abandoned on the dark side of a desolate mountain, God jingles a little bell. Calmly he reassures us, “It’s OK. I’m over here. Keep stepping straight ahead. We’re going to make it together. It won’t be much longer.”

I love how the prophet Isaiah describes our all-seeing God guiding us up life’s impossible mountains. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

            Can you hear God jingling a bell tuned just for you? Lean in, listen closely. Keep placing one foot in front of the other. And, if you’re on an elevator, don’t be afraid to go back to ground level and ask for directions.

Brave and Resilient Tip #31: Let others help guide you along life’s unpredictable paths.

 

Excerpt from Two Days Longer, Beth J. Lueders, pp. 24-25 (Howard Publishing Co, 2006)