Impatience is not a Virtue?

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with impatience. Not necessarily in a bratty, “I want what I want and I want it now” kind of way. (Okay, maybe it is that way sometimes). More often than not though I struggle with a propensity towards urgency kind of impatience.

I am the kind of person who, when she finally figures out what she wants, she wants it to happen RIGHT AWAY. The kind of impatience that Harry had when he ran through the streets of NYC to tell Sally he loved her and wanted to be with her forever. It took him ten years of knowing her to come to this conclusion, but once he knew it, he couldn’t bear to live another day, not even another hour without telling her.

See, that’s not bratty, that’s endearing, right?

It was this inborn sense of urgency that led me to finish college in three years and enter seminary at age 21 (looking back I can’t believe they let me in that young). It was this sense of urgency that saw me married at the ripe old age of 23 and ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church at age 27.  I was in mad love with my boy; I had a calling that followed me like a hound dog; I was overwrought with passion to do good in the church and the world.

I needed to do something about all this and do something as soon as possible.

Passion, urgency, righteous impatience.  This was a twenty-something me in a nutshell.

impatience is not a virtue?

21 and eager to follow in John Wesley’s footsteps. We look good together, no?

But sometimes passion and urgency still get you nowhere. 

I learned this the hard way in my mid-twenties. After having steamrolled my way through college and seminary, after getting married and then hired as a minister at a church, I decided the next step was to have a child. I pursued this end with my typical urgency.

But it turns out that no amount of urgency can force the conception of a baby. You can have the romantic night with your spouse. You can count days on the calendar and consult an ovulation test. You can even have appointments with your gynecologist and infertility specialist. But you cannot muster up a baby the same way you can muster up letters behind your name and titles in front.

My urgency and impatience hit a wall when it tried to make a baby. My lack of ability to force this sacred event to occur left me in the lurch. I was heartbroken and confused. Heartbroken because I couldn’t have something I deeply desired. Confused because I couldn’t understand why.

*****

A lot of people gave me advice while we were struggling with infertility. Most of it was bad or at best misguided. But the advice I wish I had received twelve years ago was given to me today.

You see I’ve been growing a new passion recently. A few months ago I began knitting together a dream to plant a commnity garden at a low income preschool in town. I’ve been daydreaming of helping little dirt covered hands dig carrots and sweet potatoes much the same as I once dreamed of crocheting baby blankets. I’ve scroll pinterest for raised bed designs and scanned local hardware stores for the best looking plants.

And this week. This was the week a group of 20 kindergarteners and a hand full of volunteers were to gather together among the rich dirt laid before us to plant.

But that was not to be. We live in the Southern region of the USA where it has been a rain soaked week full of wind and thunderstorms. We’ve twice now made plans to plant only to have them be rained out.

The plants are all ready, if only the weather would cooperate.

The plants are all ready, if only the weather would cooperate.

When I write this today it seems like such a small disappointment. But my impatience and these delays have been bad companions. I’ve even caught myself thinking about sneaking over to the garden this weekend as soon as the weather clears and putting the plants in myself just so they could get in the ground and start growing. My struggle with impatience had me almost to the point of tears today when I called the kindergarten teacher to reschedule for next week.

We commiserated for a while about the weather. I lamented, “I’m so sorry we have to postpone again.”

She replied:

“Oh sweetie, You can’t control what God does.”

“Ain’t that the truth” I heard myself say. And as I spoke, her words resonated deep into my bones.

For my urgency ceases to be a virtue when it comes partnered with a desire to be in control. Especially when I am desiring to be in control of things too big for my graspy little hands.

Yes, I can want a baby. But I cannot control when or if it will come. Something that mysterious and miraculous is beyond me.

Turns out the baby did come. It was five years later than I had hoped for and in duplicate, but baby blankets were made. The blue-green striped blanket for the baby boy and the yellow and purple blanket for his big sister mix-matched nicely in their shared nursery. Looking back, I am so grateful I finally relinquished my need for control over our childbearing/adoption. I could have never have planned out and steamrolled through something so wonderful as our mix-matched children. Sure they took a longer and more circuitous path than I had imagined. Sure it was hard to wait for them to come to us. But letting go of my need for control allowed me to receive a gift far greater than the one I was hoping for.

There was a fullness to it. A fullness that could only be manifest in the fullness of time.

I tried to remember that today as my impatience released its need for control over the garden. Sure I wish spring had come a month ago like the calendar said it would so our soil would be good and warm. Sure I wish it would stop raining long enough to help some kids put plants in the ground. But in the end it will happen. And when it does, it will come with a fullness that would not be possible if I had pushed things through with my own little hands.

So as I look out on the tomato and sweet potato plants waiting calmly in my garage, I concede that I probably can’t even imagine what all fruit they will bear. I don’t know what you are impatiently waiting on in your life, but this weekend may you find peace that the fullness of time will bring all that you need and more.

For updates and pics of the Cherished Children’s Community garden, like Centering Down and Bare Bulb Coffee on Facebook. 

7 thoughts on “Impatience is not a Virtue?

  1. Thank you Dena! As I have been struggling the past couple of weeks with this in my own life. I have laid down my arms and finally last night said, all in God’s time. It will happen WHEN it is supposed, right? Of course right!

  2. Thank you Dena! It’s so hard to give up control to God…and yet seems so necessary. Mary

  3. Reminds me of this song:

    To everything, turn, turn, turn.
    There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
    And a time to every purpose under heaven.
    A time to be born, a time to die.
    A time to plant, a time to reap.
    A time to kill, a time to heal.
    A time to laugh, a time to weep.

    To everything, turn, turn, turn.
    There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
    And a time to every purpose under heaven.
    A time to build up, a time to break down.
    A time to dance, a time to mourn.
    A time to cast away stones.
    A time to gather stones together.

    To everything, turn, turn, turn.
    There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
    And a time to every purpose under heaven.
    A time of love, a time of hate.
    A time of war, a time of peace.
    A time you may embrace.
    A time to refrain from embracing.

    To everything, turn, turn, turn.
    There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
    And a time to every purpose under heaven.
    A time to gain, a time to lose.
    A time to rend, a time to sow.
    A time for love, a time for hate.
    A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

    You can listen to Turn, Turn, Turn, by the Byrds at

Comments are closed.