“The thing is? When you pray for something like patience,
God is going to give you the opportunity to practice it.
Then it gets hard. You have the choice to practice or give in.
It is difficult.” – Fr. Marcin
Since the day I whined to my Spiritual Director about my difficulty with patience and he told me what is above, I have been scared stiff to pray outright for it. Not the desired consequence of such wise counsel, I’m sure. And yet, I haven’t STOPPED begging God for patience either, which I can’t seem to figure out. Each morning, before I even sit up in bed, I have a little pow-wow with Jesus. “Lord, today help me to be patient. Help me to be more like you.” Only after I’ve said this do I remember Fr. Marcin’s words and think “I take it back!!!’
Once we began morning prayer with the kiddos, it’s only gotten worse. On the days we pray specifically for patience, it seems in shortest supply. Now, I lead them in prayer and cringe each time we mention that lovely little virtue, because I know what’s coming.
So I should have seen it a mile away when we began work on the paper mache eggs pictured above.
How naive I am.
First of all, patience is not exactly flowing in abundance at the moment. The current stress of my physical state makes me, shall we say, snappy. So obviously I should try a project with all 3 kids that involves a high level of patience and mess. Secondly, I am not my mother.
I mean that in the best possible way. You see, my mother is an optomist and can find the fun in just about any situation. She would laugh and repeat, “See? Isn’t this FUN???” until the children believed it. But alas, I am not her.
I tried valiantly to be, though. I talked in excited tones about how pretty the finished eggs would be, showed them pictures of the final product, oohed and awed over the tissue paper and let them choose their colors. I was very explicit and upbeat about the level of mess involved, assuring them we would wash hands when it was ALL OVER. They seemed eager and prepared. Then I got out the paste.
What was I thinking?
Tess was a trooper, but a little too industrious and would put handfuls of tissue paper into the paste if I wasn’t right with her. Philip was also enthusiastic, but prefered to just sink his hands up to the wrist in the flour and water mix, thereby making a mess just for the fun of it, leaving his balloon alternatingly bald in sections or covered with clumps of tissue paper. And Max. Well, after 3 SQUARES OF TISSUE PAPER he announced he didn’t like the feel of the paste and was done.
Here is where things started to get thin.
I laughed, doing my best to sound like mom, and said things like “Come on! You’re doing great!” and “Silly! This is FUN!!!” But he just got whinier and whinier, cringing and shaking and on the verge of flipping out.
“This is not what I had planned!” I yelled inside my head. So I beat Max to the punch and flipped out instead.
“We are going to finish these and have a good time!!!!” I said, not so full of joy or compassion.
I don’t need to tell you that things deteriorated from there.
In the end, they were granted a reprieve (and by that I mean they were sent to their room, which they were more than happy about, and had a rip roaring good time together) and I finished the last little bit so we could eat lunch. Jac was pressed into service the next day to help us finish them. It was much better with an extra set of adult hands. That, and he’s calm 92% of the time. And goofy. And he makes us all feel good when he’s around.
I watched him work patiently with Tess and then assist Max without losing his cool (Philip and I were a darn good team on our end of the table). I told myself that Jac could do this because he hadn’t spent the week listening to Philip lose it about doing chores or having to wear the only thing he wanted to wear just last week and was now so passe or dragging Tess to her room or watching Max roll his eyes. Really, though, I knew that was an excuse. Yes, the kids try my patience; yes they wear on my nerves. The truth is that I just make the choice to give into what is easier because it IS difficult to exercise virtue.
Lord, give me patience!
No, wait!!! Dang.