i heard the thud of ceramic on wood first. a dull ‘thwack’ on the floor of my daughter’s room. then i heard the silence before the, “uh oh. i didn’t think that could break.”
i fought every instinct in my tired body to not rush in and immediately start pointing fingers and scolding. i fought it because my first instinct was to berate my husband for giving my daughter yet another breakable belonging of mine (they’re always mine, you know?). just a few weeks before she had thrown a porcelain dish from my trip to morocco on the hallway floor. it shattered it just enough to not be able to glue it back together. so all i wanted to do was huff and puff and act like a spoiled teenager.
once i had confirmed that everyone was physically okay, i asked what happened, and he said, “i thought she’d like the angel, but then she just let go of it. i thought it was made of wood so it wouldn’t matter, but then the arms broke off.” there it was, sitting in two pieces, a clean break of the arms of the angel. it was a fixable break, but for some reason it made me so angry that i let my spoiled teenager come through for just a moment, a split second. “i guess i can never have anything special in this house ever again, because nobody seems to care about it.”
and in that split second of losing my patience, i had hurt someone’s feelings, created tension in my marriage, and caused myself to become the bad guy in a situation that didn’t need one.
patience is a tender thing. it develops slowly, and unless you give it lots of attention, it won’t grow to be very strong. it’s a virtue, a gift of the holy spirit, and it happens to be the one that i lack the most. i never knew i didn’t have the gift of patience until i had a child, because it had never been tested on such a regular, unending basis. i could be patient for big things, here and there. but the little things, the minutiae of everyday, i simply was not able to tolerate being patient for those things.
and then i had a baby. and my whole life became focused on the minutiae. getting dressed. eating. sleeping. getting from one place to another. and most of the time, those little things were out of my control. patience, it would seem, is the only way everyone gets out of early childhood (and marriage with young children) alive. what to do when you don’t have it? how do you have a happy marriage and a happy child if you won’t be patient with them?
after the angel broke, my husband showed me what grace and patience looks like. he fixed the angel and left it, along with a love note on our kitchen counter for me to find. he showed me what it is to be eternally patient, and be an example of God’s continuous patience for us, his children. it made me take a step back and realize that things happen everyday that are either fixable or not. there is no in between, no compromise, and so what’s the point of losing your patience over whether it is or isn’t fixable. my reaction won’t change anything, so why not show love and patience in every situation, whatever the outcome? why not live in God’s likeness, like He meant for us to do?
life happens in the little things, so that’s where we need to show the most patience. and that, i realized, is my challenge in this life. my challenge is to find ways to be patient with those around me, to figure out how to bite my tongue longer, to stay calm during situations that deserve a little patience, no matter how much that pushes against my own nature. my flawed, impatient nature.
if you struggle with patience, just know that i am there with you in the struggle. and if i, with all that i am lacking in patience, can manage to get even the tiniest bit better, you can surely get there too. and it will be so worth it in the end.