Patience is not, perhaps, my strongest personality trait. It might even be my weakest. I always feel a bit sorry for our kids because they have known from their earliest years that when I want something done, I expect them to comply immediately and without hassle. I am aware that sometimes these moments of impatience can be hurtful and that my own rattled nerves are no excuse for forgetting that they are just children. Looking back, I often want to kick myself for an impatience that seems petty in hindsight.
A very long time ago, at a church I didn’t usually attend and, quite frankly, thought was a bit whacko, I, nevertheless, received some great advice. The pastor said, “Don’t ever pray for patience because God will just give you more things to test your patience. Once you’ve overcome whatever it was, you’ll realize you are more patient than before and your prayers will have been answered.”
Somehow that made a lot of sense because, at least in my experience, it was true. As I looked back at how far I had come, I was a lot more patient than when I was younger. The solution was simple. Stop asking for patience.
In a way, it did help because as I stopped asking for more patience, terrified I would get more tests, I learned to find it within myself to relax and know that as I worked through whatever it was, I would be stronger afterwards.
There is a young woman at work whose father has recently passed away. She, like most of us when we grieve, is asking how long it will take until she feels better. I remember that feeling so clearly. I was impatient with having to wait until I felt better.
Recently I have been feeling that way again as we wait for a decision from the appeal court on Melissa’s application to have her conviction over-turned or her sentence changed from an adult sentence to that of a youth.
Every day when I wake, the first thing I think about is if this day will be the day that we get the call.
At first I was sure we would have a decision right away. Then, perhaps it would come before Christmas, and then before my birthday, none of which has come to fruition. Regardless of the outcome my overwhelming desire is to have a decision now. I need to know what the future holds, and my impatience with the courts grows with each passing day. I am terrified we will have to start all over again, but impatient, as always, to be put out of my misery one way or the other.
As I reflect back on how hard it was to wait for the initial decision—those four long days of utter agony, I know that very few things have ever tested my patience like that time in our lives. But I know, also, that the kindness of family and friends and even total strangers got me through this terrible testing time and I am a better person because of it.
If the appeal goes against us, we may wait years for a new court date, a new decision, and experience who knows what added stressors. But these, too, will serve to give us new insight and new strength.
Nothing in my life has taught me so much or been the catalyst for such personal growth as Stefanie’s murder. Today I must constantly remind myself that whatever is ahead will also bring with it more compassion and insight into the plight of others, and this is the only way I know to beat back the anxiety and impatience of not knowing.
We all have things in our lives that produce similar feelings—some big and some small. If we look back and remember that we are better because of these tests, it is easier to tackle the beast inside and trust enough to not allow it to take over our lives.