Writer’s Block: Practiced Patience

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

I can’t remember where I heard it, but some time ago I heard some advice cautioning people to consider their prayers carefully, for God may choose to answer you in a way you didn’t quite expect. It’s a version of the old adage, “be careful what you wish for,” but with a slightly less sinisterly karmic connotation.

The advice was definitely part of a more spiritual or philosophical conversation — one where the human mind tries to understand the “whys” of some of life’s most trying, perplexing or even breathtaking moments.

For instance, how many of us haven’t prayed for patience at some point, especially during the hubbub of our daily hustles? Perhaps when we are momentarily flustered by stress at work, or getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or when we find ourselves standing behind a needlessly rude person in the checkout line at the grocery store, or when a normally sweet child has grown fussy right in the middle of dinner at a restaurant?

We all have those small moments where we feel temporarily exasperated. And sometimes, it feels like those tiny, little moments stack up, and up, and up, so that one inconsequential inconvenience suddenly morphs into a seemingly insurmountable pile of “Whoa! Can I get a little breather here?”

“God, grant me patience,” I’ll catch myself saying sometimes under my breath.

But, that advice I heard so long ago cautioned the listener to be careful when making such prayers to God, for He might just choose to answer that prayer by presenting you with a situation that requires more patience than you realize you possess.

Sometimes, we have to be reminded of the bigger picture, and what better way to learn the lesson than to be faced with something that makes it abundantly clear what small potatoes things like traffic jams or rude strangers are.

In some ways, it can seem cruel. “God, I’m already so weary! I asked for patience and now something else has dropped in my lap, and it’s all just too much!” you might say.

But there’s another old piece of wisdom about the big guy upstairs: He never gives you more than you can handle.

Nonetheless, sometimes we humans are forgetful creatures. We forget the lessons we’ve already learned through grit, and sweat, and yes, through lots and lots of patience. I know I certainly get bogged down in all the little details I’m mentally keeping track of. Sure enough, I’ll start to feel stressed out not long after.

“God, grant me patience,” I’ll say to myself then, and in so doing, I’ll also be reminded that what I should really be praying for is thanks.

The past week or two has been a good reminder of that. We’ve been extremely busy here at the PRESS and PARADE. The to-do list seems to only grow longer, instead of shorter, no matter how many items have been ticked off. It’s been a good reminder for practicing patience and — in the spirit of a certain holiday later this month — thankfulness.

For example, I’ve been blessed to have had the company of good friends and great colleagues who have provided much needed affirmation. Too, the Plumeria tree I got at Verandas a couple of years ago has finally produced a wonderful crop of fragrant flowers. Each morning as I’ve headed off to work, I’ve been fortunate to see that a new one has opened its petals.

They’re small things to be thankful for, but it’s interesting how much nicer it is to focus on the positive small things over the trying ones. It’s almost like doing so helps you to feel more… patient.

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