In Sunday School, my kids have been learning about the Fruits of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)
There’s even a mighty ear worm of a song to go with it, but I won’t get into that or else risk having it stuck in my head at two o’clock in the morning. Again.
But “longsuffering” is the key word up there. Also listed in some translations as “patience.”
Of which I have very little, I’ve learned over the last few weeks.
Especially this week, to tell the truth. Because everyone has had this pesky little stomach bug, one of those that only lasts for a day or two and brings on a mild fever, upset tummy, and that general malaise and whining that only the more mild bugs and illnesses can bring to life. And, of course, it went through all four kids (and my husband) one at a time, so that quick, one-day bug managed to transform itself into a week-long event.
So I had reached the end of my maternal tether. “Just…” became a very popular way for me to begin a sentence to my children. “Just eat your food.” “Just go and use the potty.” “Just put your shoes on.” But always spoken in that tone of voice, the one that translates to: “JUST do this one thing before I hide in the bathroom to scream between snarfing down Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups you didn’t know we had.”
And all the while, I kept trying to push that lesson of “patience” towards them, of being longsuffering, of being able to take a deep breath and wait. And there I was, trying to teach that lesson and wonder why they were taking so long to learn how to be patient. I was the one losing my temper, biting my tongue to keep from yelling at them, to keep from doling out punishments like someone throwing out bread crusts to ducks in a pond.
“WHY CAN’T THEY UNDERSTAND THIS WHOLE PATIENCE DEAL?” I would internally scream, impatiently.
Because I’m supposed to lead by example. Which is one of those things they don’t tell you when you start having kids, or to go even further back, when you start adulting all over the place.
And it applies to everything. Not only parenting. It’s easy to find myself looking at my writing career, wondering why I’m not J.K Rowling yet with my own Scottish castle. Probably because I’m too often inundated by all of those blog posts and podcasts and lectures and so on that blast the message of HOW YOU CAN SELL 47 BAJILLION COPIES OF YOUR BOOK JUST CLICK THIS LINK AND BUY MY BOOK AND… oh, I see what they did there.
So… patience. Which is all just a waiting game, when you think about it. Well, a doing and waiting game. Demonstrate to my children how to be patient, not to turn everything up to eleven at the first encounter with difficulty. Take my time to write books and stories I can be proud of, and not berate myself with thoughts of inadequacy because they’re not selling now, now, NOW!
What’s the saying? Good things come to those who wait? If I wait, if I am patient, if I am longsuffering, and put such behavior into practice, hopefully my children will learn from example. And if I am careful, if I take my time to work on my craft, to produce good work, the readers and the sales will come. There is no literary bandwagon I should be jumping on, or lamenting should I think I’ve missed it.
Just do, create, practice patience, and the rest is all so much noise.