The Gift of Patience

Amy Clemens

Read: Mark 8:34-37

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. (v. 34 Message)

I was the child to whom adults proclaimed “patience is a virtue” in frightfully impatient tones. Even as a teen and vice president of student council, I had the feeling that I should be in charge and it was painful to play a supporting role. As the year dragged on, I clamped my teeth, trying to stay calm and learn Robert’s Rules of Order. I didn’t care a whit for that Robert, his rules or his order.

It’s 10 days until Christmas, and it’s a great season to remember how hard it is to be patient when you’re young. The gifts under the tree call your name, and you shake them, press them, even dare to pull the tape open when no one’s looking. Suddenly you’re in trouble because Mom catches you, or you tear the paper, or worse.

Upon reflection, I don’t believe patience was something I developed by practicing it. Perhaps self-discipline, or long suffering grew that way, but patience was cultivated by running into walls, falling off metaphorical cliffs, and finally running out of self-help. And when my own strategies failed, what a treat it was to receive a gift of fruit from the Spirit: the gift of patience.

Giver of good gifts, when I get impatient, will you remind me of brick walls and cliff falls, and gifts torn open too early? As I embrace your advent, may I become even more willing to let you lead this adventure.