Accumulating 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.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24

On the day of my patience retreat, Cincinnati welcomed it’s first significant snowfall of the season. Even as I type that, I’m laughing at the word, “significant.” Years ago, this kind of snow would have been labeled a dusting. But in today’s world where people are more calculated, the city retreated to safety from the snow.

Of all days for a snowfall, it had to be this day. But I wonder if it was providential that it fell on a random date I picked over a month ago. It made me think how my thoughts on snow transformed over the years. While I loved snow as a kid, I’ve grown to hate it as an adult. When I was a child, snow meant no school and a lazy day bookended by sledding and hot chocolate. As an adult, snow means slow work and a complex day of managing to make up time.

This change of perspective can best explained with my experiences in my previous role working at a university. I was the guy responsible for publicizing when our school closed for inclement weather. I didn’t make the actual decision, mind you, but it was my job to get it communicated to the masses.

Quite a bit of thought goes into cancelling classes for snow days. On nights before a possible snowfall, school leaders would begin to exchange a flurry of emails about the potential accumulation, analyzing what each local meteorologist was be predicting. This lasted late into the night and then, hours before I’d normally wake up, the communication turned into texts and calls. When the decision was finally made, I had to really get working.  

I would send an email out to faculty, staff, and students; I accessed the text alert for all those who subscribed for the notice; I updated the website; I posted it on all our social media venues; I contacted the local media. All of this was completed by 6:00 in the morning. By the time I secured my day off, I was exhausted.

And it was a lot of work with nothing to show for it.

I place high value on time and planning. I want to know exactly what the day holds and what I need to accomplish. I fully invest in maximizing my daily impact. Snow renders plans useless. It creates obstacles, as simple transportation comes to a crawl, walking becomes treacherous, the easiest of tasks and errands become complex, and my productivity levels drop precipitously.

And maybe most notably, snow spawns the need for increased patience. Perhaps that’s why I hate it so.

I think of my daughter and how she reacts to snow. She cherishes it. While she loves school, a snow day means an unexpected pause when she can go outside, sled down the hill and build a snowman. She’s not yet chained by her expectations of accomplishments so she can just BE for a little while. She has no issues with pausing to watch the world go by.

I need to reclaim some of this. This is why I wonder if God gave us a little snow on my day of patience. One lesson I learned as I result it I must not to curse the snow, but to see it as an opportunity to slow down. I need to view it as a reminder that my existence is not completely determined by my work output.

Snow reminds me to be patient.