The virtue of impatience

Alarm clock

(Kriss Szkurlatowski)

I’ll admit it; I am not a patient person.

Many times I’ve been told that patience is something I need to work on. I’m compulsively on-time (very, very compulsively) and I think everyone else should be, too. I sometimes get frustrated at the glacial pace of some things in my life. It’s true.

But here’s the thing: impatience is good. It’s a yearning for a better tomorrow, and a yearning that isn’t content to sit and wait. It’s a desire to make things happen now, even if that isn’t always possible. This is especially difficult for me during this Advent season, which is supposed to be about waiting and hoping. Given the season, perhaps it’s time for me to work on being patient.

Well, trust a child (even one not yet born) to test your patience. My wife and I are awaiting the coming of our first child, which is due in April. As a UU minister whose wife is also expecting recently said, there’s something special, something different, about this season of waiting when you’re also expecting a child.

I worry about the health and safety of my wife and unborn child. I worry that something will go wrong. I’m impatient for our baby to get here (though not nearly as impatient as my wife, who has to go through the hell that pregnancy wreaks on a body—exhaustion, nausea, etc.). It’s a scary, wonderful thing as head towards the end of the pregnancy. And, of course, there’s only so much you can do to prepare. Nothing will speed up the time, and though we have plenty left to do—birthing class, getting the nursery ready—there’s no point in going too fast.

In my previous career, I was a newspaper reporter and editor. Doing that work taught me many things, though I don’t think I was a great editor and I know I wasn’t a great reporter. One of lessons I learned sounds obvious, but I have found to be very difficult; there were times when I had to really push sources, calling often, dropping by, and being very insistent. There were also times when I had to give a source space, and trust that they would get back to me. It depended greatly on the situation and the source. In other words, there are times to be patient and times when impatience is the only way to go. I’m still learning this every day, especially as I learn more about ministry.

I’m impatient, and I hope that’s a good thing.


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