“If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?” – Evan Almighty
I find myself praying for patience almost daily. On repeat, I am asking God to make me a better mom, to be more loving, more fun, more patient. Patience, patience, patience – if You could just send down a little lightning bolt of patience, that’d be great.
My four-year-old absolutely loves the show Elinor Wonders Why on PBS Kids. Elinor is a little rabbit who loves to explore, and the show teaches kids to follow their curiosity. So, being the totally fun mom I am, I picked up a big magnifying glass at the Dollar Tree and waited. I have a terrible habit of planning out creative and enriching activities for my kids but holding onto them until the conditions are “perfect.” You can imagine how often “perfect” conditions exist with little kids. So, I was waiting for a beautiful day to hand the magnifying glass to my daughter and take her exploring – it’s going to be so great, right?
Yesterday was that beautiful day. We slathered on the sunscreen, got the baby buckled in the carrier, unbuckled the baby from the carrier to change a blowout, buckled her back into the carrier, stopped to get a drink of water, went back inside to go potty one last time, and off we went! Down the nearby trail with a magnifying glass and a bucket for collecting in hand.
My sweet daughter was actually in such great spirits as we walked and chatted. As it would turn out, I was the problem child in this scenario. Yikes.
I was so excited for her to explore – until she did. She took her sweet time. Because she knew her mission was to learn and grow, she embraced it with her whole heart. She stopped to inspect every bug, twig, and ant hill we encountered. She carefully collected random pieces of bark, blades of grass, and tiny stones that she stared at with wonder as if they were buried treasure.
One of the things I love most about her is her enthusiasm for everything she does. But, today, it felt like this trait that I normally adore was the source of rising frustration in me. I could feel all the fun-mom energy dissipating as I inexplicably felt a pull to remind us to “keep walking,” “hurry up,” “let’s just go this way.” I felt the need to rush through the experience, even though it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and we had nowhere to be. The more annoyed I felt at her casual exploring, the angrier I felt at myself. I thought, “Why can’t I just relax and let her set the pace?” I felt guilty and began ruminating on the conflicting energy in my heart until I almost wanted to throw in the towel and go home to cry.
Then, it hit me. “Oh. Here’s my opportunity to be patient.” Of course it seems silly and obvious now, but in the moment, standing in the sunshine in a quiet section of the trail, the breeze blew through and God told me, “Chill out, dude.” And so, I chilled out. I let my daughter meander along, stopping to inspect and explore and pet all the dogs we saw. I thought of questions to ask her about the nature we were seeing and asked for her observations (something Elinor would be so proud of).
The feelings of impatience were still there, but I refrained from vocalizing – something I’m marking down as progress.
So, here’s to recognizing opportunities to be patient, giving ourselves grace when our patience is lacking, and adopting the enthusiasm of a four –year-old who thinks prairie dogs will come to you for cuddles if you just scream at them and offer them the grass you just painstakingly collected.