“Said’ Woman, take it slow, and it’ll work itself out fine. All we need, is a little patience.”
When I heard Axel melodically whine that line in the early 90’s, twelve-year-old me was floored. It spoke to my pre-teen soul. Love struck, teen-aged me would listen to that song on repeat over the following decade when it mirrored back my most recent heartbreak. And, I would be lying if I said that as an adult, I haven’t had many a long drive with the windows down and volume up, wind in my face as Duff, Slash, and Axel switched up the tempo for the last stanza and hit me in the chest with that chunky D/F#-G acoustic progression, only to remind me that all I need, “Is a little pat-ience… yeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…. Need a little pati-ence… yeeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…”
I am not a patient man. I don’t wait well. Saying “patience is a virtue” to me (or anyone who suffers from anxiety) is akin to saying “you know, sobriety is good for you,” to an addict, or “you should really eat less salt and fat,” to someone with high-blood pressure.
THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS! I’m cognoscente and aware that having and practicing a patient attitude would be the preferred mode of thinking for a happy and healthy mental state of being. I know that I would experience a great deal less stress if I learned to take a deep breath and truly give it (whatever “it” is) to God. I understand that I can’t proactively change anything, or make what I desire come to fruition by dwelling on it. Obsessing over it. Pining for it. Wishing for change. I get it, trust me.
But, I can’t seem to help it. I can fake it. I can look like I’m cool-as-a-cucumber from the outside. James Dean and The Fonz sitting on motorcycles, sunglasses on, perfectly quaffed hair blowing in the breeze, cool. Inside, it’s a manic, frustrated different story. Inside I’m begging God to fix it. Pleading with Him to make it better. Yelling into the quiet vacuum that is my prayer life, asking why He isn’t responding. Why hasn’t He answered my prayer? Doesn’t He know that I really want it? Doesn’t He care that I’m hurting? Why is He ignoring my pain? WHY?!?!
He whispers, “Patience.”
I scream, “But Lord!”
He sooths, “Wait.”
I panic, “But what if…?”
He calmly encourages, “Be still.”
I frantically pace and concoct manic contingencies to play every angle of my issue, “But if I don’t do something now, look what could happen! I have to act!”
He softly proclaims, “Know that I AM God.”
What does that mean? Know that I am God. I know He’s God. His name is… God. Mine is Nick. Seems pretty simple to me.
If that’s the case why do I constantly act as if I’m Him? I try to take on the responsibility for the outcome of my life. I try to control the uncontrollable. I attempt to dictate the direction of the wind to blow in my favor, then I panic when it won’t fill my sails when I want it to.
Patience means waiting. But what are we waiting for? I can tell you what I’m waiting for. I’m waiting for my own personal Genie-Jesus to grant my wish. The way I asked, when I ask for it. Is that too much to ask? When I look at my life and how I react to things, I am struck by how many times The Lord has failed to answer my prayer in the affirmative. The truth is He answers every prayer, it’s just that sometimes the answer is, no.
No? Wait, I thought I was supposed to be able to do all things through Christ who loves and strengthens me. I thought if I prayed for it hard enough I could get my wish granted. I know what’s best. I can see the big picture. Gimme!
Know that I am God. Let’s explore that. What can God do? What is He capable of? Short / Simple answer: everything. He’s God. So if that’s the case why isn’t He doing what I’ve asked? Because Daddy knows best, that’s why. A parent knows what is good for their child. Even when that child is vehement that their plan is the best course of action. A parent’s job is to look at the big picture and extrapolate out the possible outcomes of the choice the child has proposed. More often than not my answer to my own two young son’s is, No. The second most common answer they get is, “Maybe, it depends how you act”. Third on my list is, “Yes, but later.”
Think about what God says to you when you pray for what you think you need. In my own experience I would say that very few times in my life have I asked for something from God and immediately, “SHA-ZAAM!” it has come to pass. There are lessons in the waiting. There are things to listen to in the quiet. We just have to be willing to, be still. To wait. To be patient and obedient. To trust that God has our best interests in mind and only wants what best for us, even though we may have convinced ourselves of the contrary.
So I sit in my car. Driving. Listening to the tires kiss the pavement and the wind howl in my open window. Panicking. Fretting. Planning. Scheming.
“Lord, please let me have it.”
“Please God, let it happen the way I want it to.”
“Maybe, it depends on how you act and how much you can grow to be ready.”
“Jesus, please let them love me.”
“Not yet. Have….”
My stereo pops to life and I hear the voice of an old friend backed by a trio of acoustic guitars, “a little pat-ience… yeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…. Need a little pati-ence… yeeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…”
I look up, take a deep breath, and nod. Smooth, Lord. Smooth.
Copyright 2019: V. Nicholas Gerasimou
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