Raise your hand if you’re patient by nature. (My hand isn’t raised either.) I’m the world’s worst waiter. It’s because I usually want what I want when I want it.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Once upon a time, Gary and I hosted college-aged and married couple retreats at his parents’ ranch in the beautiful remote hills of Northern California. We looked out across the valley on one of those weekends, and said: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a place of our own for weekend retreats?”
Enter cancer, and the vision changed somewhat. “What about cancer retreat weekends with nutritional cooking classes and introduction to outdoor activity?”
When Hubby died, I was surprised to find this dream still alive in my heart. Maybe weekend retreats for widows, maybe women writers.
Cancer and caregiving taught Hubby and me there is purpose in the wait. Here are 7 excellent reasons for patience:
1. Patience teaches us … patience. I know. Profound. But it’s true. The more we practice patience, the patient-er we become. I’m very grateful for all those years of caregiving—as a mom, as caregiver to my mother slipping into dementia, caring for Hubby with cancer—that shaped me into who I am today. Not a single year wasted.
2. Patience keeps us from getting everything we want. Wait … what? But think about it: Have you ever really really really wanted something? And didn’t get it. And then later, you were so very thankful you didn’t get that person or that thing? I have.
2. Patience improves customer service skills. The customers we’re referring to here are the people in our care. I remember when Hubby didn’t want to take his meds any longer. The hospice field nurse said that was his choice. I did try to talk him into taking his sleep aid, though, because he was up several times in the night and uninterrupted sleep helps with pain management (it also helps with the patient’s wife’s ability to cope, if you follow my line of reasoning). Hubby balked. He wanted me to Google and show him the side effects of the meds. He relented. And then later we’d find pills under his easy chair. No matter the issue, the customer is always right (well, mostly) and the customer generally responds better to patience and kindness than say, to exasperation.
4. Patience is a beauty aid. Watching someone we love go through a hard thing, day in and day out, graciously, without complaint — this changes us. It can make us gentler, more compassionate. And being gentler and more compassionate makes us more beautiful.
5. Patience can get you there more quickly. I’m reminded of Hubby’s uncle who was stopped at a red signal. The light turned green and the car behind him honked. Uncle Al put his car in park, got out and walked back to the honker. “Did you want something?” he asked as the driver shrunk down in his seat. The irony of the story is not lost on me. There are things we do, out of impatience, that jeopardize our forward progress.
6. Patience can increase your assets. It takes time to build anything of value: a marriage, a home, a family and traditions, strong friendships and trust, retirement funds, a hike-the-Swiss-Alps savings account. Hanging in there through the wilderness years enriched Hubby and me — character development, a better love story, good friends we might not have otherwise met. Priceless things, right there.
7. Patience can fine-tune your goals. An example of this is the weekend retreat idea mentioned above. At the moment, most of my focus and energy is on getting a book published. But it will be interesting to see what God makes of the hospitality vision.
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I think the key to waiting is gratitude. If I’m living mentally somewhere else, then I’m usually impatient to get there. This is where ingratitude shows up. If I’m living in the future and wanting it more than the present, then I’m not grateful for my life. Because this minute, this hour, this day is my life.
Consider this thought from an unknown author:
It’s hard to wait around for something you know might never happen; but it’s harder to give up when you know it’s everything you want.
What about you? What have you been waiting a long time for? Can you learn anything from the wait? What do you appreciate about the present as you wait?
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