Son comes down to eat his 87th snack of the day at 10:00pm. I'm wrapping up, locking up, and turning off lights. He sits down at the kitchen table. I do too.
He eats like a sloth on barbiturates.
Every cracker gets divided into 64ths. Chewing is like glacial activity. The peanut butter between the crackers gets licked off...every microgram of it.
Me-to-myself: JUST EAT YOUR @#$)#%*(@$ CRACKERS SO WE CAN GO TO BED BECAUSE I'M FREAKING TIRED ALREADY AND ISN'T THIS YOUR 12TH PACKAGE OF PEANUT BUTTER CRACKERS TODAY???
Me-to-him: Hey bud. Tell me about camp. What was the coolest thing you learned or had reinforced? (while still steaming on the inside)
Him-to-me: Some thoughtful responses, some late night blather.
Me-to-him: What's one thing you need to do to reinforce all that?
Him-to-me: I need to _____________. (a solid action step) Hey dad, you want one of these crackers?
He finished just short of 22 hours later (it seemed), washed his hands, brushed his teeth (again). Then, at the top of the stairs as he was headed to his room and I was headed to mine...
"Hey dad. Thanks for sitting with me. It was really great to talk to you. Goodnight!" *big hug*
Me-to-myself: Thank you God that I didn't say out loud all the impatient things I was thinking...
Here's what I'm learning about patience:
I'm only patient when things don't go as I planned in either direction or timing. That's the only time I get to exercise patience. When it goes my way, no patience is needed.
Be smart enough not to say everything that I'm thinking. And be gracious enough not to hold other people to what they said but may not have meant in the heat of the moment. Parents. Kids. Spouses. Bosses. Employees. They all apply.
I can't think of an example in my life or those I know where someone says, "Gee, I wish I would've been less patient there." The payoff for patience can look like a life-giving hug at the top of the stairs or something meaningful to you. But it almost always pays off. To be clear, I'm not talking about passivity here - sitting and doing nothing and expecting God to sort it all out. I'm talking about patience - the kind of intentional and active waiting (or sitting at the table conversing over peanut butter crackers) that the Bible describes.
Here's hoping that helps someone today.