Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Room 314: Patience
I gained some insight through my experience in Room 314 not only into how terribly impatient I am, but why it is that I grow impatient. I become impatient when I attempt to achieve certain goals in my own strength, confuse these goals with larger, Spirit-led objectives, and then get frustrated when I cannot achieve those self-imposed goals in my own strength. Ever since beginning my law practice, I have developed a sense for the "return on investment" ("ROI") of every minute of every day. I've internally measured every endeavor, both personally and professionally, by its ROI to my practice (measured in satisfied clients and revenue) and to me and my family (how much we enjoyed a particular endeavor). But when you are flat on your back in a hospital bed for 15 days straight, 8 of which were without solid food, you gain insight into the "productivity" of life. I was expecting a 3-5 day hospital stay with few complications afterwards. My internally-set goal was to leave in no more than 5 days so that I could return to what was truly "productive" in my life. Of course, this did not occur. As it turned out, and as demonstrated by these blog posts, God used the suffering in Room 314 to teach me considerably more about Himself through this extended stay than if I had met my self-imposed deadline for a return home. There are numerous examples every day of how impatient I am: I would grow impatient at work if factors outside my control impacted a self-imposed deadline to completing a project. Ironically, I found that clients would not even review the project for months after its delivery, even after we slaved away to meet my self-imposed deadline! I grow impatient at home when my children fail to eat their meal as quickly as I would like. Ironically, I found that if I wait, they are more than happy to eat over the course of more than an hour! In contrast to exclusively filling our day with (a) tasks that we deem of utmost importance and (b) a self-imposed schedule for meeting that schedule, I have tried to use the barriers that come up throughout the day as a means to turn back to God and remind myself of His great patience for me and my dependence upon him. I can become a more patient person by focusing on the "endgame" of Christ in my life, and the Holy Spirit's developing a Christ-like character through sufferings, large and small, and not on unmet self-imposed deadlines. The Lord is perfectly patient with us. He waits upon us and responds to us when, after focusing our attention on idolatry of various types, we finally respond in urgency to Him. Paul says, "...I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [sinner], Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." 1 Timothy 1:16. While I am still setting self-imposed goals for achieving a good ROI for my day, I am trying to use impediments to achieving those goals as a means to stop and think about God's great patience with me, and consider the significance of each self-imposed deadline in the scope of eternity. I pray that, as I look to Jesus when I might otherwise grow impatient, he would fill me more and more with the joy in Him and the patience necessary to forebear short-term suffering. As Paul says in Romans 5:5, the gradual development of Godly character through patience will not disappoint us eternally, even if it "costs" us unmet personal self-imposed deadlines.