My Pursuit of Patience

This is a series of posts surrounding my goal of focusing on patience in 2017, specifically my retreat day of patience on January 5th. To read more in the series, click on the "patience" tag at the bottom of this post.

For nearly all my professional career, I’ve worked for faith-based companies. One benefit of this is that they usually take a holistic approach to organizational success, uniting employment (secular) with the calling (sacred).

Last year, our company studied the Fruit of the Spirit. The nine-word list penned by the apostle Paul two thousand years ago in his letters to the Christians in Galatia could be easily memorized in one sitting; I remember doing so myself during VBS in 1984. But to truly master these fruit is something that few accomplish within the scope of a lifetime.

At the conclusion of last year, our president asked that my colleagues and I dedicate one day in early 2017 examining one of those fruit and its potential impact on our year. It was a fascinating assignment and I looked forward to making it my own. As I glanced at the list, there were plenty of places where I needed improvement, yet only one word screamed out to me to make it my own.

Patience.

I have always struggled with patience.

In his book, From God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas. 20th century theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer, teased out the fruit aspect of patience. He observed, “Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespected hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them.” I don’t buy the fruit in our household, so that metaphor isn’t quite as powerful to me as it could to be. Still, I resonate with Bonheoffer and admit that I am too impatient.

So how does one go about structuring a day to contemplate on patience?

While some wax romantically about spiritual retreats, they’re just not for me. My response would quickly resemble Jack Nicholson in The Shinning if I was holed away at a secluded cabin. I feed off the energy of being in public and do my best thinking when surrounded by others. And I highly doubt that patience is best developed in silence and solitude, but rather when dwelling among the masses That’s why I decided that, in order to grapple with patience, I needed to be in the company of humanity.

Since I dwell in the city where I’ve lived my entire life, I had endless locations from which to choose. And since choosing a singular location seemed limiting, I structured my day around a journey of reflection from my past. See, my entire adult life is connected by one long one road which stretches from the city center to our farthest suburbs; four of the five places where we’ve lived while married are located right next to state route 3.

I decided to take a drive, makes a few stops along the way, and go nowhere in particular. I’d blindly drive up the road of my life to see what I’ve learned about patience, and what’s left to discover. I wrote my reflections from that day down and the following posts will detail my thoughts and reflections about patience.