It was the wee hours of a
bleary eyed night in 2010. Michelle and I were roughly a week into parenthood.
We were well read in all the experts of parenting and had taken detailed mental
notes from the sages of child rearing in our life. We could recite the age-old
wisdom in our sleep…if we were to ever again get any of that ever elusive
unconscious utopia. If I heard it once, I had heard it a thousand times, “If
your baby is crying they need one of three remedies…to be burped, changed or
fed.” The problem was, at least it seemed, no one told our miniscule son about
those rules of engagement.
The seconds transformed into minutes, into what felt
like eons of irrepressible wailing. Each passing moment increased the looming
fear that we would never succeed in comforting him sufficiently. He was adorned
in a clean diaper, was carefully burped and been given enough milk to induce a
sleepy coma yet there he lay between us red faced and shrill. We had logged
less than 200 hours of parental caretaking and the concept of immediacy was
quickly overtaking the notion that “this too shall pass”.
My thin wire of
patience was coming unraveled at a startling, involuntary pace. Most honest
parents reading this can identify with the next few sentences. I yelled at my
son. I used a couple of words that were borderline on the cussing scale. I
frantically and without any semblance of peacefulness inquired of him why he
was crying without ceasing. Did I expect him to suddenly be able to speak a
week into his life? Parenting an infant causes one to occasionally experience a
suspension of reality. As quickly as the loud frustration spewed past my lips I
locked eyes with my wife and great grief rose in my heart. I morphed almost
instantaneously from a loud angry person into a weeping, broken mess. How could
I yell at my baby boy? How could I lose sight of the larger picture to the
degree that I allowed frustration and fatigue to override my understanding?
In essence, impatience is to be so consumed by the pressure of the moment and the necessity of now, that an inability to see the larger story being written takes hold. Impatience is quintessential temporary thinking. It is a severe deficiency of perspective. There is a reason we gain patience as we age. It’s because we have experienced enough of life to realize things develop at different rates and what you see in front of you is rarely a perfect indicator of what is to come, for the better or the worse. Patience is the revelation that a moment, or a season does not define nor is it the completion of the story. It is just that, a moment or a season, to be embraced with the peace that it will more than likely pass, and leave you more capable…with greater understanding about yourself, life and God…with a more ready temperance…with more wisdom and likely more skill.
Patience is to receive the now with trust and hope, celebrating the idea that we have no clue how the pieces will come together or how the years will unfold. Patience is to relinquish control, surrendered to ONE who knows better.