This morning, I took Ann's words with me to prayer. And they echoed in my head all day. Tonight, I find myself marveling at how the Spirit provides. I've written about how a baby changes us. I've written about how trauma--particularly life-threatening trauma--changes us. I want that change. I embrace that change. Because with openness to life comes grace and with trauma comes more grace. The grace will change me, shape me, if only I let it.The grace is abundant and it's still there for the taking. What stands in the way?
I've always thought patience was a strong point of mine. I am slow to anger with a child. I can wait for someone I love for a very long time (just ask my husband). What I've learned, however, is that I am not patient with myself.I am eager to move on, to improve, to achieve.And in my eagerness, I miss the grace. Ann tells me why:
Deep breathe. Love is patient. And it strikes me, an epiphany over the fry of bubbling pancakes, “Love can only be patient when it is first grateful for what is right now.”
Itis true: I can love only when I am thankful for the now. When I embrace the present as a gift, a time and place not to be afraid of, to resist and fight, but a place to welcome as a wise bestowment from a kind Father.
Love cannot be patient when I am discontented or my fears (of failure, of bedlam) drive me to micromanage. Patience can only grow in the soil of gratitude. Lack gratitude, then lack patience, and, ultimately, lack love.
There is the checklist. The to-dos. The plan. And the neat little tick marks next to each item are proof positive of my successes. Chores finished. Lessons complete. Meals planned. Groceries purchased. Pat myself on the back. I did it. Micromanager me. But what is "it," exactly? The goal is not to conquer the list. The goal is to live my vocation without sinning. The goal is to live in love. And love is patient--even with oneself.
Ann writes that in order to be patient we must be grateful. There's the missing piece. It's not more order, or a better plan, or something else I don't have right now. It's being fully present -- and fully grateful -- for the now.The moment. It's not pushing us all through to the end of the day so that I can rest in the knowledge that I accomplished everything on all three of my lists. It's stopping in the moment and acknowledging its worth. Acknowledging the very gift of time.
When the two-tear-old is spinning pirouettes in a dress she took from her big sister and marshmallows are growing fluffy in the noisy mixer and the big sister is wailing pitifully because she wants that dress back and I'm picking chicken for the soup (that must be made in the 12 minutes marshmallow mix time) and the phone rings and it's a dear friend, I am grateful for all of it.The whole messy moment. I am not pushing past it.I must slow down in it. Finish the call. Turn off the mixer. Set the soup to simmer. Wipe the tears. I cannot push on. I have to stop. We'll sort this out, my soul and me. We'll see that the list will wait and we'll be patient with the process. We'll thank God for the pause, in the very moment of it. If I can get to grateful, He will give me patience. With myself.
The spinning child and the wailing child will both know love. And so will I because He is in the moment. And over a lifetime, a lifetime of trusting Him with every moment, the grace will be abundant. That's the life I want to live.