Holy Impatience!

As I age, I have become impatient, but perhaps in the best way. It’s not the “Get off my lawn, you darn kids” kind of impatience. Nor is it crotchety or curmudgeonly. It is tender. I am, I confess, terribly impatient with our failures to love.

I discovered this a few weeks ago while listening to a person share about a conflict with their spouse. I, who can actually give measured and wise relationship advice, found myself sputtering incoherently, “Come on you guys! Just love each other!” A roiling impatience filled my heart. I love this couple deeply.

I think the source is my age and the death of my last parent. I had a moment of clarity two years ago when I held my dying mother in my arms. I said over and over, “You are a good, good Mom.” It was as if I was trying to make up for the times I should have said this over the years. Mom was in her nineties, and yet I was struck by the shortness of life. What truly matters became clear. It is love and doing all the things love does.

My regrets are not those of a neglectful or unkind son. I have a clear conscience but still wish I had known earlier the value of expressing my love. I prayed for my Mom’s healing, but in the end all we could give each other was love. Love was everything and the only thing.

I have become impatient with the things that divide families: grudges, judgments, opinions, and offenses. I am impatient with those in church who make having their way and expressing their opinion more important than loving the people around them. I am equally impatient with those practiced in the art of taking offense. C’mon!

I want to slap, then hug, these people and say, “Life is short! God’s love is what matters!” It matters more than our success or ambitions. It is even more important than our health. Like a mountain it towers over our fears, regrets, and slights to our self-esteem. Expressing my love will always trump asserting my will. Love, it turns out, really doesn’t fail.

Yes, I see the irony. Paul does indeed declare that love is patient.  I see this a little like judging the judgmental. Honestly, I am impatient with Christians who are impatient with the brokenness and weaknesses of their brothers and sisters.

My only defense is that my impatience is first directly to my own failures to love. I am old enough to be without excuse. Not ever have I wished I had loved less or helped fewer. All my regrets run the opposite direction. My best investments have all been bought with sacrificial love.

As I age into the shadow of my mortality, my love grows urgent. My impatience is partly a recognition that each day is an opportunity to love. No matter how much or little we have loved in the past, today we have a new chance to love. Today is, as Scripture declares, the day of salvation. It is also the day of love. C’mon.

About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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