All week, I’ve been thinking that one of the major life lessons I have come to this planet to learn is patience. I don’t think I’m doing a great job of it many days and fear I may have to repeat this lesson again! Patience is one of those things that I strive for every day. I used to pray for patience as a parent, but decided that maybe that wasn’t the best choice because I would be presented more instances to use it…and believe me my boys can present enough instances on their very own! Every day, I work on patience and refining it, but this week, as I reflected on some of the things going on in my life I have come to the conclusion that I need a lot more work.
As I work on my student teaching, I am patient. I think it is one of those areas of patience that I have always had a firm grip. I can be really patient with other people’s kiddos. I have time to listen to a student work through an idea. Even the little things that might annoy me or take my patience away in other situations don’t bother me while I’m with a group of students. I am a more patient person when I teach.
When I worked in the kitchen, I had many opportunities to be patient. Many processes take time and patience. There was roasting the bones to make stock…takes forever. There is making consume…really takes forever and impatience will ruin it. The process that really taught me patience was baking bread. At one of the restaurants I worked, I was responsible for baking all the bread that was necessary for lunch and dinner each day. This meant that I was up around 4 am and began baking shortly after. I would stumble into an empty kitchen and work alone for two to three hours. All the bread was made from scratch daily. Lunch rolls, bread for the tables, scones, cinnamon rolls…you name it, I baked it. The bread making process takes patience from beginning to end. The measuring, the yeast, adding ingredients, the rising, the rolling and forming, rising again, and the actual baking…really the simplest part…but even while in the oven, bread needs attention, patience. I loved this work. During the time I was baking, I was in my late twenties and I wasn’t very patient. I had not baked early in my cooking career…it made me nervous…too much math. It was about five years into my cooking experience that I became a baker. It was one of the greatest jobs I ever had. It was a life lesson, it reformed my ability to be patient and transformed me.
Fast forward ten years or so and my life fell apart. My life that was looking so much like the life I had hoped for imploded. My husband was diagnosed with a terminal cancer and he died. The happy home I had patiently built, crumbled to rubble in a mere six months. I was suddenly left without the relationship I had worked so hard to build. My best friend was ripped away from me. My primary person was gone. The person who was there for me always, who had my back, really the only person I was really able to settle into feeling safe with and stay there with left. I really didn’t know how I would survive…
Cue patience…grieving takes all the patience I have. It takes patience with myself…which I rarely have…and patience with others and with the process itself. In the early days after he died, all I wanted was it to be over. I wanted the pain to stop and the sadness to leave. A wise grief counselor told me that sad was here for a while, but would leave eventually. I trusted her. I was patient. I let sad stay. Sad left in stages with me…that heavy sadness lightened after several years, well, maybe four or five years. That sadness that stayed in my heart and was just there, deep inside, hidden away, is moving out bit by bit. New experiences, time, and my own ability to let it go helps sadness move out of my heart more and more each day. I have been patient. This time, with my grief, I have truly been patient.
Recently, I have the opportunity to experience something new. I have this person in my life that cares for me. I know I’ve said this before…but I really never believed that this would be possible. I thought if I lived my life, took care of my kids, worked hard, and kept my head down, that my life would be ok. In the years since Dave died, I hoped that maybe some day, I would be lucky again and find someone patient enough to deal with me, but at the same time didn’t think it was a reality. So there’s this person around now who does care. Here’s the thing though…I don’t want to put the cart before the horse…I want to wait and see how this will play out…another time to be patient…with him, with myself, with the process itself. There has been an intimate connection emotionally with him that I didn’t expect. I never thought…well, I never thought I would be capable of it again…let alone that someone might feel something back. Feeling these things makes me impatient, makes me nervous, makes me think too much and anticipate too much.
So here I sit with more experiences to strengthen my patience. It has been such a gift to experience this relationship unfolding in my life. I will be patient. Just like baking the bread, each step requires patience to help the next step evolve. Again, perhaps patience is my life lesson on this planet. I will live in this moment and not put too much pressure on the next moment to hurry and arrive…and who knows…maybe I’ll land in a place I never expected. No matter how the relationship plays out, I am again transformed, by him, his caring heart, and by my ability to risk my heart again.