I love books. I always have. I listen to them while I’m driving. I read for at least an hour a night. I just love the smell and feel of a good hardcover book. I have a bookshelf full of antique hardcover books by poets and classic storytellers.
I also have a large collection of Little Golden Books from my childhood and books with worn covers that proudly boast “An EARLY I CAN READ Book” across the bottom.
This week I learned a valuable lesson about waiting patiently and loving others the way they need love and not just how I think they need it. It is actually a lesson that has been a long time coming. It reminded me of one of my favorite books from my childhood, Hattie Be Quiet, Hattie Be Good, by Dick Gackenbach. Let me take you back to when I was 7-years-old and briefly summarize this story:
Hattie was a goodhearted, albeit mischievous, impatient, rowdy little rabbit. One day she wanted to do something kind for her mother, but she did not know what. She tried this and that but was too short or too small or too something-or-other to accomplish the kindness. Then she remembered what her mother was always telling her: “Hattie, please sit down and be quiet for an hour.” So that’s exactly what she decided to do. She heard other kids playing outside, and still she sat in the big armchair. She thought of many fun things to do, still she sat. Her mother saw her, noted her extreme quietness, thought she was sick, and went to make her some soup. Then, when the grandfather clock struck that the hour was up, she got up, stomped up the stairs, slid down the banister and crashed hard right into the umbrella stand – creating such a ruckus that her mother came running in from the kitchen to see what was the matter. She looked up at her mother, who said: “I see you’re not sick after all. Hattie, please sit down and be quiet for an hour.”
Like Hattie, I have missed the point lately. Hattie’s mother wasn’t trying to ruin her day or steal her fun. And the truth is, it wasn’t really a kindness to her mother that Hattie be quiet for an entire hour.
She said that because a.) Hattie was being loud and wild and crazy and b.) she wanted Hattie to learn to mind her manners, be courteous to others, and live with a calm demeanor. Her mother probably needed a lifetime of peace and quiet, not just one hour.
I’ve been waiting for some things in my life. Some lately and some for years. I thought I’d been waiting patiently, but I just realized that I have completely missed the point. Like Hattie in the story, I think that if I just do (fill-in-the-blank) or wait long enough, then I’ll get what I want. Or if I just do such and such then it will be a kindness to someone. If I sit and be still and quiet for just an hour…surely that will be enough.
But doing something for someone with the wrong motives isn’t patience nor kindness. It’s selfishness.
You could say, in light of the above definition, that I can accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering. In fact, I can accept it all day long and twice on Sundays. I can wait for years. What I have trouble with is my response. I get antsy, irritable, depressed, and pushy when I have tolerated delay past a point. And by responding this way, I’m not being patient, I’m merely being tolerant.
1 Corinthians 13:4 begins by saying “Love is patient, love is kind.”
My heart wants to love well. My heart wants to love everybody, always. But loving people on my terms with the motive to get something back isn’t really very loving. Showing someone a kindness once (sitting quietly for an hour) isn’t really a kindness if we offend them by stomping up the stairs, or, like me, if we get antsy, irritable, depressed, or pushy afterwards.
What I need to do is relax, let go of my claim on something, and let God work. Whether I’m waiting on a spouse or waiting on a job offer, I have to trust him, I have to pray for his will and not mine, and I have to learn to tolerate any delay without getting antsy, irritable, depressed, or pushy.
I’ve definitely not arrived. Just because I wrote this on my blog page does not mean I’m perfect at this. What it means is – I am aware and I will be putting this into practice.
Thank you to the friend who loved me enough to bring this to my attention.
Thank you all for reading and for walking through life with me.
I love you,