Love is Patient
Love is patient… 1 Corinthians 13:4a
There was a popular saying not long ago that went, “Be patient with me. God is not finished with me, yet.” I am not a fan of maxims that oversimplify or trivialize complex or important concepts, or of those that seek to shift individual responsibility elsewhere. This saying, though, expresses a profound truth in simple terms – God is not finished with us, yet. In that sense, we are equal because we are all in various states of becoming. No one is complete; no one is perfect.
Whenever someone is in a process of becoming, patience is called for. Of course, with each earthly breath we take, we are in a process of becoming, so patience is always warranted. In parenting, this is obvious. We do not expect a two-year-old to possess the conversational skills of a 22-year-old, so we are patient with their limited dialogue. We do not expect a child in Kindergarten to be able to understand Algebra, so we patiently teach them basic numbers and counting, first. There is a point in a child’s growth, however, where we begin to lose patience. With adults, our patience is often very short indeed. We forget that the process of becoming is life-long.
Impatience is a product of unmet expectations – not meeting our own expectations or not meeting those of others. People simply do not behave in the ways we always wish them to behave. Sometimes we show tremendous patience with some people and very little with others. The person we typically have the least patience with is our self. Most of us are aware of what we are capable of becoming and how we wish to always behave, so when we fall short we forget we are in the process of becoming and are simply not there, yet. Sadly, the other group we are frequently impatient with is those we love the most.
Speed, or lack thereof, is often a trigger for impatience. Someone is simply not moving or becoming as quickly as we believe they should. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” The same can be said of love. Step one in becoming a more loving person is to become a more patient person – patient with ourselves, patient with others, patient with God. We have our earthly lives to become what we can on earth, and we have eternity to finish what remains. There is really no hurry. Where love is the goal, there is always time for patience. A life of love is a patient life.
Let us make 2016 the year of love, as love was meant to be.