December 13, 2019

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Finding the gift of patience in a time of waiting

Kimberly PohoveyI am not a patient person. I used to pray for patience. However, when I heard the adage that when you pray for patience, God gives you opportunities to practice this virtue, I ceased that line of prayer. I believe some people are innately gifted with a patient temperament, but I would guess most of us, to some extent, struggle to be patient.

I know you are probably thinking that my lack of patience is tied up in our culture’s “immediate gratification” mentality. But that’s not it.

For me, it is a results-driven issue. I want to be able to make an impact, in whatever situation is at hand, as quickly and effectively as possible. I want to help others; I want to do God’s will. However, I often get ahead of myself in the process.

We are well into the second week of Advent. However for me, Advent came early this year. I underwent back surgery on Nov. 4. The recovery process requires me to wear a stiff, vest-like back brace for two to three months. I am not to bend, lift or twist my torso. I cannot drive. I am not supposed to do any house cleaning, laundry or otherwise strenuous tasks. I will be on medical leave through December. So what can I do? Wait.

I wait for my husband or son to come home at the end of the day so I have someone with whom to converse. I wait for the pain to subside while I apply ice to my back for what feels like the hundredth time. I wait for sleep to come because I’ve developed insomnia from napping too much during the day. When I drop something on the floor, I must wait for a family member to come by and pick it up for me. I wait for the next new Hallmark Christmas movie to premiere (because by this point, I’ve seen all the rest of them). But most of all, I have to wait to heal. This is supremely frustrating to me.

As November wore on, I began to see the parallels between my lack of patience, this waiting period in my life, and the season of Advent. What is Advent but a time to slow down and more quietly, and dare I say, patiently, wait for the arrival of the Christ Child?

As the weeks wear on, I am getting better at waiting. My desire to control situations is lessening. My prayer life is increasing, not only because of an abundance of time, but I find myself more intentionally focusing on prayers for others, and on the importance of gratitude. Instead of being frustrated that my husband hasn’t gotten around to something I would like done at the house, I grow more and more grateful for all he’s doing to care for me. And it is during this time that I realize God’s not testing my patience, he’s gifting me with it.

This newfound patience bolsters me in an unexpected way. During what would normally be a hectic holiday season, I am grateful for the opportunity to wait … for the joyous coming of Jesus and the promise he brings for love, peace and, what I will be most grateful for—healing.

Just wait and see.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of mission advancement for Archdiocesan Education Initiatives.)

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