We are excited to have another great post from guest blogger, Erica Hunt. Erica is an Emerging Generation Associate Pastor at Woodland Hills Church.
“Have patience, have patience
Don’t be in such a hurry
When you get impatient,
You only start to worry
God is patient, too
Think about the times
When others have to wait for you.”
These lyrics are set to a simple melody first introduced to me as a child by Psalty the Singing Songbook™. The song is easy to learn, and the lyrics lay out a logical argument for why patience should be on regular display in our lives. Psalty’s message, reinforced by parents and Sunday School teachers, persuaded my childhood self that it really could be that simple and easy to do.
He’s right that a refreshed perspective and consideration of others can motivate us to think and behave differently. This cute little song truly did help me as a kid. But as an adult, I have needed more than short bursts of intense willpower. Cultivating patience needs to be more than a “for the next five minutes, I will try to be more patient” approach. I’ve needed to work at developing habits and practices that s.l.o.w. m.e. d.o.w.n.
There are few other cultural values that drive our everyday lives more than convenience, which sucks the life out of efforts at cultivating patience. When so much of everyday life can be so easily achieved or accomplished, there is little incentive to purposely slow down. Yet many of us long for more time to spend with people and activities we care about. Willpower helps, but it isn’t enough.
Here are a few examples of things our family has incorporated to swim upstream against the current of fast and easy living. If you have patient-inducing practices of your own, make sure to share them in the comments so the rest of us can try them out.
We eat seasonal produce
Waiting for strawberries, apples and asparagus is so hard in Minnesota! Our fingers are practically still stained from the picking and processing of 2 flats of strawberries in June. As delicious as they were, we almost grew tired of them over the following days. But by not buying berries the other 11 months of the year, we’ve learned to appreciate the juicy sweetness when they’re fresh, knowing that they won’t be available for a while unless it is through the jam stored in the freezer.
We cook our own beans
When I first encountered the practice of cooking beans, I was in my early twenties and had never stopped to think about what happened to beans before they reached the grocery store shelf. It turns out they soak, boil and simmer, a process that can take up to 10 hours. We’ve learned to be careful with quantities because they don’t keep as long without all the sodium added to the processing. If we want chili but haven’t soaked the beans, we don’t get chili. Depending on the consolation prize on the menu, there is great incentive to soak beans the next day!
We dry laundry on a clothesline
If you have the space, try it out! It usually takes longer, but there is nothing like the smell and feel of sun and wind-dried laundry…especially bed linens and t-shirts.
We don’t give loans to our kids
Buying on credit could be the epitome of our convenience-obsessed culture. As our kids started to operate with the assumption that they could always buy now and pay later, we stopped extending loans. They have a list of extra chores to earn money and have learned to spend more carefully. Most importantly, they WAIT until they have enough to make the purchase, which they may or may not still want at that point.
If you were a fly on the wall in our home, you’d know there is no silver bullet here – no easy fix for persistent patterns of impatience, but practices like these do help. They remind us to lift our heads up, look around, breathe, and gain perspective. We might even savor a strawberry while clothes dry on the line.