Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau
On Monday I felt like I was sprinting on a treadmill – sweaty, exhausted, but getting nowhere. Every errand I ran became more complicated and time consuming than I’d anticipated, and I was an average of fifteen minutes late for every appointment I had scheduled.
At 5:20 pm I finally arrived at the grocery store to pick up something that could constitute a quick and easy dinner before having to get my youngest son fed and to soccer camp by 6:00. Becoming increasingly frazzled, I grabbed who knows what from random shelves and rushed to the check-out counter where I hurriedly emptied the contents of my cart onto the conveyer belt.
And that, my friends, is when the register malfunctioned.
As I stood there, gazing helplessly at the harried cashier and her manager frantically trying to figure out the problem, my blood began to boil. I was fuming with frustration, which made my eyes tear up and my pulse quicken. It burned like heck in my gut.
LordhavemercyLordhavemercyLordhavemercy…I prayed, to keep from sighing exasperatedly, rolling my eyes, or muttering, “You have got to be kidding me!” under my breath.
LordhavemercyLordhavemercyLordhavemercy…I pleaded, when the cashier looked at me apologetically; I needed divine intervention to smile back. After all, it wasn’t her fault…these things happen…and in the grand scheme of things, this mattered very, very….very little.
LordhavemercyLordhavemercyLordhavemercy, I continued until I had made it through to the other side of my internal temper tantrum, at which point I thanked God for helping me refrain from saying or doing something that would have discouraged someone else. I was, believe it or not, much later in the evening, actually grateful for that chance to increase my patience.
You see, as challenging as it is to live out my convictions, I do believe with my whole being that these everyday, pesky “thorns in my flesh,” if humbly submitted to, can move mountains in my soul. Each time I hold my tongue when I want to say something negative, or act compassionately when I want to stew and pout, a part of me dies, making more room in my heart for Christ to enter in. And when there is more of Christ than “Me” in me, I am peaceful and courageous and merciful to my neighbor.
Salvation, I have to remind myself everyday, is a life-long race to be run (sometimes crawled) with perseverance. Lord willing, I will fall and get up again, fall and get up again, moving (often times fumbling) ever forward until my very last breath on this earth.