patience

The Year of Patience

As my final wrap-up post for 2017, I want to talk about my word of the year. As mentioned in this post, each January my mom, sister and I seek a faith-based word to focus on for the upcoming year. In 2016, my word was “give” and this past year my word was “patience.”

Ouch, right?

I had tried my best not to hear “give,” but when I started hearing the whispers of “patience,” I all but invested in earplugs.

“Don’t you know…” I asked at the start of the year. “Don’t you know I’m not really in a position to be patient right now?! Don’t you know I have things I need to get done and questions I need to get answered? I need to move, I need to work. If anything, my life could use a heavy dose of impatience.”

These prayers however, did little more than assure me that not only was patience my word, but it was also, unknowingly, my greatest need.

I am at a point in my life when there is pressure coming from a lot of angles. Some of it real, some of it imagined. Pressure to move forward, pressure to settle down, pressure to make a name for myself and start on the path I was meant to follow. And while I’ve been desperate for answers, I’ve also been too impatient to hear them.

To me, patience looked too much like hesitation and sounded too much like indifference, and I didn’t think I had time for that. This world has us convinced that life is passing us by. That if we don’t move fast, we’ll miss the opportunities given to us. But the truth is, opportunity is everywhere, and the only way you’re guaranteed to miss it is by not looking—or in my case, not listening.

I am a creative person, with a lot of hopes and dreams of where I can use the gifts I’ve been given. As a result, I’ve tended to make plans of where I want to go, how I want to get there and how fast. Then, when I sit down to pray, I essentially lay out blueprints and ask for a signature.

Newsflash, Kim: that’s not how it works.

And while I knew this, it was clear I needed it spelled out for me. And so it was:

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Over and over…

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…and over and over again…

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If I were to give God the voice of a millennial teen, it would sound something like, “YO, CHILL. I GOT THIS.”

And while it took me a while. A LONG while. We’re talking most of 2017 type of while. In the last few months of the year, I finally started to listen. And even more, I started to understand.

Patience is not laziness. It is not indifference, confusion or failure. Patience is listening. It’s waiting. It’s breathing. It’s listening for what you need rather than demanding what you want. In being patient, you are being proactive. For patience is not a pause in productivity, but a path to it.

I will always be someone who wants to make plans. Who wants to move and work and make something of myself. But what I’ve learned this year, and what I hope to keep close to my heart in the years to come, is that I need not worry about the plans, for they are not really mine. And while that may be scary to accept because it means I’ll never have the blueprints, and I’ll never know all the steps, I can be comforted in knowing that the steps I do take are in the right direction.

So as I move into 2018, the year of…wait for it…SURRENDER. I again turn to the words I’ve been handed so far. Trust and then give and then patience. They all add up, and they all have purpose. For they are the steps. They are the answers. They are the plans that I’ve been looking for. And I need only listen to let them lead me forward.

Wax On, Wax Off, Be Patient

This past Mother’s Day my brother got up in front of our church to talk about a lesson he learned from a rather unlikely source. He started out by relating to all of us, asking if we’d ever felt impatient when it came to getting the things we want out of life.

“Have you ever felt like you were ready for something, but no matter how hard you tried, you saw no forward progress?”

He didn’t ask us to raise our hands, but it felt almost impossible not to. I’ve grown all too familiar with that nagging impatience, this year more than ever. There’s so much I want to do, so much I want to accomplish, so much I want to become and I keep saying, keep praying, I’m ready. I’m ready now.

It’s not an uncommon feeling, and it’s not one I’m unfamiliar with. How many times throughout our lives have we thought, “okay, I’m here in my life but I’m ready to be there, and I’m ready right now! I’m done waiting.” But then how often do we get there or somewhere else we never imagined, and realize how little we had known before, and how much further we had to go to in order to truly appreciate where we ended up?

“Think of The Karate Kid,” my brother said. “Daniel Larusso, or Daniel-san as Mr. Miyagi calls him, shows up on his first day of training and pretty much says, ‘I’m ready to be a karate master now!’ and what does Mr. Miyagi do? He gives him a sponge and tells him to wax the floor. He gives him a brush and tells him to paint the fence.”

We all nod, having probably seen the movie more times than we could count. We knew what the sponge and the brush really stood for. We knew their disguise as household chores were actually training methods of their own. I thought back to the first time I saw the movie and how my mind was blown when Daniel figured out he’d learned exactly what he’d hoped to be taught, even if he hadn’t realized he’d been taught it in the first place.

“Recently I’ve started to think about those things in my life that seem like chores, or the things that are put in front of me that seem like nothing more than a waste of time. I’m starting to think they’re not.”

I sat back in my chair, letting the wisdom of my brother’s words sink in. We are all Daniels. We are all being challenged and trained to get where we’re intended to go, even if we don’t know it yet. The lessons we are learning with each day—even if they seem unrelated to anything we’re hoping to accomplish—could be exactly what we need to accomplish something even bigger.

“So we just need to keep it up,” my brother said in closing, “wax on, wax off.”