If you were raised Christian or have ever attended a wedding, you're likely familiar with this Bible passage on Love: First Corinthians, Chapter 13, starting at verse 4:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud..."
I went to Presbyterian church every Sunday of my childhood and tons of youth groups and church camps to boot. So, at least 9,320 times a teacher said: "Now, replace the word 'love' from this passage with your name."
My problem is the pesky order of these attributes. I've never been too boastful and always rather kind, but that's not where we start. Of course not. Apostle Paul dives right in with one of the arch nemeses of my life: Patience.
So, each of the countless times I did this exercise, I wrote: "Joyce is patient" knew it was a gigantic lie, and kinda threw in the towel from there. (Even at age eight, I just couldn't lie to myself about this.)
Now seems a good time to shout out anyone who has ever:
a.) worked on any type of deadline-based project with me
b.) waited for a table at a restaurant with me
c.) waited for food at a restaurant with me while other people who sat down after us already got their food (!)
You, my friend, are the real MVP. (:
I only recently realized these "minor" yet consistent spurts of impatience could speak to a larger theme in my life.
There's small-scale patience, like waiting two hours to get pizza in Brooklyn. [I admit: this can be worth it. :)]
And then large-scale patience, which I define as: accepting that everything in your life is happening in perfect timing.
For me, small-scale patient can be tough, and large-scale patience can border impossible. I'm almost 30 (!) so found myself being hypercritical of my life's timing—especially my "career path."
At times, I'm like: Who cares? Trying to contain a luminous human being to a résumé, a single sheet of paper in bullet point format, is ludicrous.
But, at other times, self-sabotaging thoughts reign: I missed the boat. If I were going to "accomplish" anything in life, I would have already. I've always wanted to be a writer, but have nothing "to show for it." There are people my age who are physicians!!
When I'm wading in this cesspool of thought, I ignore things like the blatant fact I've never had any desire to be a physician. I am immersed in two states: self-pity and impatience.
On self-pity: I think Cheryl Strayed says it best in this advice column:
"Self-pity is a dead end road."
On impatience: Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke can help. In Letters to a Young Poet [one of my favorite books!] he writes:
"Let your judgments follow their quiet, undisturbed evolution, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressured or hurried in any way. It's all about carrying to term and giving birth. To let every impression and every seed of a feeling realize itself on its own, in the dark, in the unconveyable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of your understanding, and to await with deep humility and patience the hour when a new clarity is born; this alone is to live artistically, in understanding as in creation.
Time is no measure there, a year is worthless, and ten years are nothing. To be an artist means not to calculate and not to count; to mature like a tree that does not pressure its sap and stands amid the spring storms with assurance and without the slightest fear that summer might not come. It does come. But it comes only for the patient ones, who stand about as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and vast. I learn this every day, learn it amidst considerable pain, for which I am grateful. Patience is everything!"
Inspired by this passage and a Belief Work class I'm taking, I started this: Each time I noticed a beautiful, blossoming tree, a tree that never feared if summer would come, I used it as a trigger to think this affirmation: "Perfect timing is at work for me."
At first, I didn't believe it at all. I actually couldn't even remember the seven words and had to keep looking them up and then felt dumb. But, guys, the craziest thing (!) is happening: I'm starting to truly believe it.
I even believe I'll soon be able to say, "Joyce is patient" and know it to be true.
with Love and with Light,
p.s. If you ever feel like you've missed the boat, a kind reminder: There is no boat. :)
p.p.s. If you have any q's about my experience in Belief class, feel free to reply directly to this email. A few of you have kindly replied in the past and prefaced your emails with "Sorry to bother you..." and I want to put on record I'll never be bothered by a genuine reply.
p.p.p.s. I am sometimes impatient and I am also often fun to eat with and competent to work with. It feels weird typing this since our society often accepts self-loathing but questions self-acceptance, but I wanted to put this note here, for me. As Rumi says: "Good and bad are mixed. If you don't have both, you don't belong with us."