Practicing Patience

Author: Diana Shellenberger


“Love is patient and kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5


It is no accident that patience is the first affirmative quality of love St. Paul identifies in this verse. Patience is the ground from which love not only grows, but keeps regenerating itself.


When I lived in Vermont, the pastoral search committee I was part of went to another town to hear a candidate preach. The service she planned included an activity that required the congregation to jot down something we were good at. I could have written down a number of things, but to my surprise I chose an aspirational one—waiting.


Most of my life I’ve struggled with waiting, a key attribute of the patient life. I hated waiting because I didn’t know what to do with myself. I only wanted the good things I was waiting for to materialize. Preferably five minutes ago.


Though raising my sons often challenged my patience, parenting more than anything else helped me develop it. Like everything else in life, parenting is a process, not a product. So often when my kids were young, I had to dig deep to get beyond my irritability at being on call all day every day. When my sons demanded my undivided attention, I gradually discovered it was best to let the writing and cooking projects wait. Most of the time, all they needed was five minutes of play time with me before I could resume my other work. Actually, I benefitted from the play time even more than they did.


Sometimes it is necessary to move quickly and urgently, but most of life’s activities can be performed slowly and continuously, without infecting yourself with what the spiritual writer Eknath Easwaran called “hurry sickness.” Very few things are improved by rushing.


As we wait for a baby’s birth in this Advent season, let it be with patience. Amen.

Leave Comment