By Allen White
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
No one has ever accused me of being patient. Maybe I’ve slowed down a little as I’ve gotten a little older, but don’t confuse speed with patience. It’s not the same thing.
When I am choosing a checkout line at a store, I quietly evaluate each customer, the number of items in their shopping cart, and the friendliness of the cashier. Helpful hint: friendly equals slow. I want a cashier with his head down and scanning items like the building is on fire.
And, if the customer ahead of me pulls out a checkbook, forget it. Even if they only have one item, the check is the death blow to the efficiency of that line. I move on.
Now, to further plunge the depths of my neurosis, once I choose a line, I keep tabs on how the other lines are moving. If I can leave the store ahead of the person at equal starting position in the next line, I feel a small sense of victory. I know. I need therapy. Is there a pill for this dysfunction?
But, I have learned a certain amount of patience over the years. When our oldest son was born, he spent most of the first five months of his life in ICU. Hospitals are great teachers in patience.
One day, during his hospital stay, I walked to the parking lot from the Ronald McDonald House. RMH was such a great blessing to us. I couldn’t fathom the cost of a five month hotel stay in San Francisco. (Drop your change in that little box at McDonald’s next time. It really helps!)
Parking for Ronald McDonald House was a scarce commodity in San Francisco. Parking on the streets of San Francisco is also quite a feat. When we finally got an assigned parking space, it was in a lot shared by two medical offices. It was a zoo.
Everyone left their keys with the parking attendant who carefully double and triple parked cars in an elaborate game of Tetris. Cars parked in the drive ran perpendicular to cars parked in the spaces.
As I stood waiting for the attendant to free my car from this maze, a patient from the doctor’s office walked over and said, “How do I get my car back?” I told them the attendant was over on the other side. He would be back in a minute.
The patient looked at me and said, “Boy, you sure are patient.” I was a little surprised at the comment. I thought, “I’m not patient. I keep tabs on competing checkout lines at the grocery story. This person thinks I’m patient.” Then, I smiled. God was working through my circumstance to produce patience in my life.
Think about times you are impatient, especially when your impatient with another person. What response does your impatience evoke in them? If you could take back your words and avoid the hurt or conflict, wouldn’t you? Wisdom challenges us to bite our tongues, especially when the other person is in the wrong.
If we need perspective, just imagine how patient God is with us. How many times has He overlooked our repeating the same stupid mistake over and over again.
At a minimum, just think about how wise we appear when we don’t communicate our impatience, verbally or non-verbally. We can seem much wiser, just by keeping our mouths closed. Think about it.
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