Be patient. How easy it is to resent those words—especially in this digital world. Those of us who used to type on typewriters and find source materials at libraries now grow irritated when a Word document or website takes too long to load. We become impatient in minutes. It has become realistic to find or receive what we want in seconds. It is an uphill journey to learn and maintain patience in a culture that gorges itself on instant gratification.
Fast can be wonderful, but sometimes slow is better. Look at the world God created. Take a lesson from nature. Few things happen in an instant. Gestation, the seasons, or fruit on a tree—the world is full of things that take time to ripen, mature, or grow before they can be enjoyed at their peak.
Patience is important. Good things are worth the wait. And more than that, the wait is worth something as well. Sometimes the time spent in expectation is worth more that whatever it is we’re waiting for. So much can be learned in the silence, stillness, or tension that rests between the desire and its realization.
Patience is connected to faith. The process of trusting has its own worth—the act of having peace and reassurance without knowing or seeing whence or how our hopes or dreams will come to us. In the season of anticipation we increase the worth and weight of our faith. We see our currency of trust in God appreciate in value. And once what we hoped for arrives, we find the wait has made having it better. We treasure it more because it was elusive or slow in coming.
Patience isn’t just a virtue; it is often necessary. Sometimes we’re not equipped to have what we want, but sometimes it’s what we want that isn’t ready. Some of our dreams need time to develop and ripen on their metaphorical trees. If we force it, if we try to take hold of it too soon, it will be like eating fruit that hasn’t ripened or giving up on climbing the mountain before reaching its peak. The view might be good, but not as great as it could have been. The fruit is nice, but not nearly as sweet. We end up with a lesser version of what we would have had if only we had waited.
I am not a patient person. Patience is a lesson I’m still learning. It’s a challenge. I am trying to live a life of ambitious contentment. I don’t want my impatience to compel me towards imprudence or chain me to disappointment.
In my professional life, 2014 was a year of projected hits that turned into misses. The trajectories of my dreams were modest at best. I faced disappointment, but I didn’t dwell in it or become discouraged—a minor miracle. Even though all those doors that cracked open eventually closed in my face, I remained patient. I had (I have) faith. And so I wait to see if and when I’ll find new doors willing to open fully for me to walk through.
Time and time again, I’ve seen that few things of great value are fleeting opportunities. More often than not (at least in my life) they are the culmination of a season of waiting and working, maturing and strengthening, or observing and learning.
Patient ambition—or content anticipation—that is what I am aiming for. Don’t let me lose my peace and joy in the now simply because I don’t have something yet. I want to be able to want and to be satisfied while I wait.