For various reasons, I had decided to go to the gym a little later that particular morning.
That meant I needed to get most of my morning routine done before the gym–walking the dog, washing my hair, and packing a lunch. I had just about an hour–enough time to do each of those things and get to the gym if I hurried.
I put a leash on Julie Anne and headed outside in the dark. I needed her to hurry up and do what dogs do.
But Julie Anne was in no hurry. Or maybe the change in schedule had her a little confused. I steered us along well lit areas and she sniffed and poked and played and scratched and–at times–acted like she was going to take care of business–but didn’t. As the minutes ticked by, I began to get more and more anxious. It was cold. it was dark. I was in a hurry. And I was remembering a man’s scream of “Help! Help!” that I had heard from the warmth of my bed a few hours earlier.
I do not know what happened before that. I do not know what happened after that. But someone had been screaming not far from here not long ago. Julie Anne, please do your business so we can get on with this day.
Julie Anne sniffed a little more and I was hopeful. Anywhere will do. This whole grassy area is designed specifically for this.
She poked around.
Honestly, girl, this blade of grass…that blade of grass. They are all the same.
She kept sniffing.
See this bag, Julie Anne? I’m just going to pick it up anyway. It isn’t going to matter two minutes from now. Just do it. Julie Anne–
She suddenly stiffened and turned and stared intently at the darkness in the trees behind the little strip of town houses. Julie Anne– She still stood motionless.
I could hear those screams.
Whether they were real or from my dreams, I knew not, but I could hear them. And I was staring into the darkness myself and starting to feel a little creeped out. There were no other brave souls out with their dogs at that time of morning.
Julie Anne stood frozen. Alert. She had no intention of doing her business anytime soon. And I had no intention of being that girl that got murdered standing outside in the cold waiting for her dog to poop.
So I headed home.
I was a little irritated as we reached the safety of my little place. A good 15 minutes wasted. Nothing accomplished. My tightly packed schedule was now all askew and we would have to go for yet another walk. I didn’t know when.
Patience has never been one of my strengths. It requires too much humility. It requires me to put other people’s needs and schedules ahead of my own. Patience understands that my time is no more valuable than the person in line in front of me at the grocery store with 100,000 coupons. It is subject to the law that requires me to sit at a woefully long red light when there is not another car in the same zip code. Patience sees interruptions as opportunities to yield, and grow, and learn.
And patience requires faith–because to be patient, I must choose to believe that someone else’s way is truly better than my own. When it comes to some people, that sometimes requires quite a bit of imagination. And when it comes to God, it means being to content to accept what my finite mind cannot even imagine.
As I mentioned, patience has never been one of my strengths. In fact, I was born in a hallway because I couldn’t wait for the delivery room. My dad will tell you that I’ve been in a hurry ever since.
But God apparently is not content to leave me that way. Hence, Julie Ann. And plenty of other people and circumstances which shall remain nameless.
It is interesting to me that when Apostle Paul penned the great “Love Chapter,” I Corinthians 13, the very first attribute ascribed to love is patience. Love is patient.
Love recognizes that sometimes another person needs a little time to come to their own conclusions. Another person may have a different order for the same priorities. They may have their own plans for the best way to redeem the time entrusted to them. They require a different amount of rest and relaxation.
The next attribute of love in I Corinthians 13 is kindness. And the more I think about it, the more I realize how tied together those two are–patience and kindness. Kindness is really humility in action too. Quite simply, it is caring about someone else’s feelings.
Kindness can mean the world to another person. And it doesn’t cost a thing.
I figure the average person gets about 160 opportunities a day to work on deficits in the patience and kindness department. For me, that’s about one every six minutes I’m awake. Some days more, some days less.
Some days those opportunities start at 5:30 am. Some days I fail at 5:30 am.
But God, in the perfection of His love, doesn’t give up. He faithfully peppers my life with opportunities to learn kindness and humility.
Thank goodness that love is patient. Even at 5:30 in the morning.