Patience is a virtue. I’ve heard it my whole life. And have been impatient my whole life. Patience is most definitely a virtue that I struggle with daily. Especially on days that involve a trip to the grocery store…when I’m in a hurry.
On a recent Thursday, in our rush to get out the door, I left my 3 year old’s lunch at home. We were too far from home when she realized her lunch wasn’t in the backseat for me to do anything about it. So I promised I would go to the grocery store before her lunch time and get lunch to her class. Now, of course, I got out of the office very last-minute to run to the store and get her lunch picked up. With no time to spare and no time for delays, I rushed to the store.
My first encounter upon entering the parking lot was an elderly lady trying to cross from her parking space to the store entrance. Embarrassingly, I’ll admit that normally this would greatly try my patience. But on this day, that wasn’t my first reaction at all. As I watched her struggle to cross the short distance from her parking space to the front door, I was moved to pray for her. Specifically to pray that those she deals with on a daily basis would be compassionate towards her and show her patience.
After rushing through the store like a mad woman grabbing what I needed, I got in the shortest of the express checkout lines. There was a college age student at the front of the line. As soon as her transaction was completed, she seemed to panic. Apparently the checker forgot to run a few of her coupons and she was scared that her checking account was going to be overdrawn. As her plea to the checker to reverse the transaction held up the rest of the “express” lane, I began to pray that her situation would be resolved. Again, not really a normal reaction. Shortly after, a manager came over and escorted her to a place where they could take care of her problem.
The next person in line, the gentleman immediately in front of me, checked out. At this point I’ve realized that my daughter’s lunchtime starts in 1 minute. And I’m still at the store…waiting to check out. The gentleman in front of me requested some very specific cigarettes. The checker got the wrong ones. The man waiting for them demanded the “right” cigarettes be brought to him. But there were none in our lane. Or the next. Or even the next 2. Finally, 4 lanes away from us, the “right” cigarettes were found. And I was able to check out. The checker was noticeably frazzled. I quickly (to myself) prayed that his day would improve and headed out of the store. As I looked at my watch, I knew I was late. And because she is my offspring, knew that my daughter would have no patience with my being late with her lunch.
I started to think about my “reactions” to my delays at the store. And admittedly realized that those were not at all normal ways for me to react to those delays. It was then that I felt God softly speak to me that, through the compassion I chose to have for others that day, my patience increased. I felt God speak to me that his compassion for us is why he doesn’t lose his patience with us. If I would choose to see situations and circumstances through eyes of compassion, my patience would increase. And my frustration would decrease. My 20 minute trip to the grocery store ended up being a lesson that (hopefully) will stick with me for a very long time. Compassion breeds patience.
And the bonus? When I got to my daughter’s class with her lunch (10 minutes late), they were just coming in from the playground. I wasn’t “late” after all!