The Limits of My Patience

At the end of the year, I held my arms high in the air, as if in victory.

At the beginning of the year, I had embarked upon a spiritual pursuit of patience. Throughout 2017, I spent a retreat day in contemplation of the practice and revisited it throughout this year. I've never been the most patient individual, likely because my belief in the Protestant Work Ethic pushed me to value progression more than pause. 

While I definitely wouldn't claim to have mastered patience this year, I certainly made some headway. This past year was the first time as an adult where I wasn't in full pursuit of a larger professional goal; of course, I dedicated myself to my job, but I wasn't looking beyond it. Rather than creating an arbitrary target to fill the void, I used this journey of patience as an opportunity to recalibrate my perspective. What difference does it make if I'm moving someplace as long as I'm focused on using my talents for the kingdom of God? It doesn't mean I've become complacent. I'm simply inching closer to living as the apostle Paul advocated.

So I couldn't help but laugh as I spent some of the last hours of my years with my arms extended high . . . not in victory, but in defeat . . . with a hairdryer in my hand . . . painstakingly trying to de-thaw a frozen drain line.

Owning an old house is a perpetual lesson in patience. Subzero temperatures and our absence during Christmas led to our kitchen sink/dishwasher drain to freeze up. I know enough about plumbing that I knew I could solve the issue; I just vastly underestimated how long it would take me. I first tried reaming it out with a plumbing snake, and later pumping hot water into the drain for a couple of hours. It took me a day and a half to finally accept that my best course of action was to grab a hairdryer and warm up the uninsulated part of our crawlspace. 

As I stood there monitoring the slow drip from the drain gradually increase, I couldn't help but smile thinking this was the most apropos way for me to wrap up my year. I had no idea how long it would take for this hairdryer trick to work. And it just so happened that this mini-crisis took place on my vacation, so the intermittent dripping were a constant reminder of my plans placed on the back-burner. I was forced to be patient.

It took an hour for my efforts to be rewarded. The ice finally melted. If I had taken my medicine and devoted myself to an hour of patience at the beginning of the ordeal, I might have saved myself a full day of time.

I have no idea what 2018 holds for me, but I'll remember this past year fondly. My patience has its limit, but at least its borders are expanding.