I gave up on New Year’s Resolutions some time ago—their certain failure brought frustration, and I need neither. But God may be getting my attention, courtesy of Home Depot.
Although tending to be a bit mellow and easy going, I’ve noticed my impatience level getting worse lately, and New Year’s Day brought it to a peak. Needing to paint several gates and five shutters before the school year resumed, I slipped down to the local HD just after the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game. Both are absolutes in our house. I had a small can of the paint needed, Essex Green from Benjamin Moore. However, the paint attendant couldn’t find it, after at least five minutes on the computer. Mind you, it’s a holiday; I have work to finish before relaxing before the altar of the game.
I suggested he just shoot the color and let the computer match it. Takes 3 minutes, max. He kept looking. Finally, he pulled out a huge Moore color deck, and wisely turned to the index at the back. For at least 10 minutes, he kept looking. Several times he muttered, “It’s just not here.” I learned the art of reading upside down at job interviews, and noticed he was perusing the F’s. Probably his grade in English.
Another worker strolled over, “At last, someone who knows something!” But he just asked my guy some question, and my hopes for help plummeted. I think I may have rolled my eyes at this point. I’m certain my tone of voice, as much as I tried to control it, revealed some of my inner impatience. Finally I asked if we could turn to the E’s. “Oh, yeah.” Still couldn’t find it.
I reached over, pivoted the deck, and found Essex Green in about 5 seconds. Honest. Success! We were ready to roll! But the code was EX-436 or something similar. Once again he was lost. No clue what it meant, and he worked in the paint department. Then a younger HD guy came in, my guy asked what the code meant. EX was exterior. Then, BAM.
God hit me on my impatience. Doing his best, working on a holiday, the worker received nothing but grief from me. What if, being nice, which he was, he asked where I worked. “Oh, I teach at a local Christian high school.” Great witness, huh? I changed my tone of voice, used “sir” a lot, but it didn’t take away the shame I felt. I should have apologized then, but I’ll go back and do it.
I get more impatient more easily lately. People invade my agenda, and I don’t like it. After all, the world revolves around me.
In the pondering of the last 4 days, I remembered that patience literally means long suffering. Or, you suffer and you suffer and you suffer, without whining, complaining, or striking back. I’m not good at that, and I wrote a book about the fruit of the Spirit. You find patience right in the middle of the list. I write better than I live. But I don’t like it. And, although it’s not a resolution, I’m working on it. I suspect that will be a long task.
Kick Starting the Discussion
For me, interfering with my agenda, or not taking serious things seriously or humorous things humorously, all push my impatience button. Basically, it flows from inner selfishness. What does the same for you? Have you seen a pattern? For a solution, I needed to become aware of how deeply impatience touched my soul. For me, I need to see each person as a full human being with issues of their own, and to try to become an agent of grace for them. They’re not here to serve me; I’m here to serve them. Even when I’m the customer. When your impatience grows, what steps can you take to graciously transform it into patience? Guys, also, pray for me on this, OK? I need it.