I’ve never been great with virtues. Particularly patience and humility.
Take humility, for instance. A strategy (notice I didn’t say virtue) I’ve developed when in conflict with my husband and I’ve happened to go too far is to take responsibility and admit I’m wrong immediately to disarm him. Sometimes people get annoyed when you apologize quickly because you take away their opportunity to prove you wrong, which can feel oh so good. Soon we all have no choice but to calm down and before I know it, he’s apologizing for his wrongs and sees the error of his ways. Then a smirk curls on my face because my strategy worked like a charm.
See? I can’t even admit I’m wrong without secretly being a smug butthole about it. Whatever, I’m a work in progress.
So it should be no surprise that patience isn’t my thing, because if you think about it, patience and humility are two sides of the same coin.
So what is patience, really? Is patience the ability to wait? Or is it the ability to remain faithful while waiting? Probably the latter. Just because I’m able to wait in a horrifically long line doesn’t mean I have a good attitude about it.
And it’s the attitude that matters most, because it has the biggest impact on what happens next.
If you’ve been following my author site (that I’ve periodically abandoned many times), then you’ve probably pieced together that I’m big on faith. That our beliefs, thoughts and stories we tell ourselves often have a direct effect on the trajectory of our life. It’s not a belief in magic, or fairy god mothers. It’s discovering I do in fact have a purpose (a talent/gift that serves others) and a desire in my heart for how I will express my service. And if I believe I’m capable and destined for it (and work my butt off), it will come true in my life.
It may not come true exactly how I want it to, but it will come. In time. Not always in my time. And that’s the real pain in the ass.
My faith and belief is rooted in my faith in God, but I honestly don’t think you have to believe in a higher power for this concept to be true in your life. What we’re passionate about, focus on, water, nurture and prune – tends to grow. What we neglect tends to wither and die. My problem is, when I prune and water and cast sunshine on something, I expect it to bloom by noon. And when it doesn’t, I get to the important business of feeling really sorry for myself. BECAUSE I WORKED SO HARD!
AND I DESERVE IT SO HARD!
Then sometimes, right as it’s about to bloom, I give up. I stop watering. Stop opening the blinds. Stop pruning. Stop caring. If it’s not going to bloom on my time, then screw it.
That to me is the only time I truly fail.
As many of you know, I’m writing a book on pregnancy. I believe in it with my whole heart. But the process of writing, querying, and getting that book deal is an arduous, tedious process that involves watching a clock tick slowly while you wilt away into a heap of boredom and sadness. Okay, I’m being dramatic, but can someone throw me a freaking bone?
So today I reminded myself – patience is the ability to remain faithful to my purpose while waiting. How can I serve in the meantime? How can I do something meaningful for someone else? How can I stay happy and joyful despite a period of uncertainty? In the words of Glennon Doyle Melton, I’m called to serve, not to be successful – so maybe the secret’s in the service.
The question is, if it doesn’t happen today, just as I want it to, do I believe not getting what I want is an essential part of my story? Do I truly believe it will come, even if it’s not in my time or look how I expect it to look?
I know a wildly popular writer whose first book was rejected into rubble. Her rejection spawned a new book idea that became an NYT Best Seller.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Sometimes it’s smart to give up (to make room for the real magic). Sometimes it’s stupid (because our destiny takes more than 24 hours to develop). Whether or not your lack of patience and/or humility had something to do with your decision is usually your first clue which is which.
If you’re tired of waiting, I am too. But we still believe in it, right? So let’s not give up. Not yet. There is so much good we can do in the meantime. And it will come. Right on time.
Even if you suck at virtues.