Patience is a Virtue

Today while I was reading at a park, I came to a profound realization about a situation from earlier this year.  I was in a season of slight discontent with myself and several other issues that decided to pop up at that time that I had no control over.  To help get myself out of that funk, I got several books to read and spent a day up at Lake Norman to just read, listen to music and a few podcasts on my ipod, be still and quiet and pray. 

Apparently that is a deadly combination (and by deadly I mean causes me to go into overdrive) for me.  Quiet, beautiful scenery, good books and hearing good music and good speakers do two things: they bring me peace and contentment and then my mind goes into overdrive with ideas about how I can practically continue to improve as a person, do my job at school and work at church, etc.

How has this manifested itself in recent months?

  • Andy Stanley’s book Making Vision Stick was a good read for me at that time and gave me new eyes and a new perspective regarding how I related with other small group leaders in Quest and threw me into overdrive with ideas about things we could do to make our small group systems better.  I was grateful I had the ability to write them down and an awesome Quest director who doesn’t (seem to) mind me going on and on about different ideas whether they are feasible or insanely lofty.
  • I just began reading Rafe Esquith’s book Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire and it has made me completely rethink how I will begin the year, especially considering what grades I may end up teaching.  It has given me a ton of ideas of how I could translate my love of reading into something at school even though during the school day I am a Spanish teacher. 
  • I have lists and lists of things I want to become more disciplined in doing.  This is not just the devotional thing, but things like writing down things I’m grateful for each day, etc.  I think it would make my whole perspective on the day change and if I had a “bad” day, it would force me to find the good.
  • I have file at school with postings from a website called Nanduti, a foreign language teaching forum for elementary teachers, and it has TONS of ideas I’ve gotten from that website inside.
  • I have a bazillion little notepads and post-it stacks lying all around with said lists and ideas.
  • Reading blogs…always getting new things to look into, learn about, think about, etc.
  • I have kept almost all of my worship guides from church, so there are tons of takeaways I leave with each week.

The problem:

My mind races continuously, especially after hearing a sermon, listening to a speaker at a conference or workshop, after reading something particularly good, hearing a comment someone makes, or visually seeing a representation or the culmination of someone’s hard work.  At school, I constantly get ideas from other teachers’ classrooms, at church (whether Elevation or one I am visiting) I see what is being done and I imagine what takeaways there are that could be translated to fit Elevation, Ekidz, and Quest, and daily I see things in others that inspire me to push myself to new heights. 

The solution…kind of:

I’m thankful someone came up with the idea of pen and paper.  If I had to live with all of these things in my mind, I’d go crazy and would probably forget half of them.  I either need to write them down or share them with someone, get their opinion and I’ll at least feel a little more sane.  I know not all of my thoughts and ideas are going to work or be brilliant, but I’m thankful God gave me the capability and capacity to learn, think, be creative, and the guts to share them even if they fall flat. 

The problem with the solution:

Once I get an idea in my head about something that could change or be better, a lot of times I want to work through it right away and figure out a way to make it work as soon as possible.  However, this is not always possible and this leads to my grand epiphany this afternoon:

Patience is a virtue.  One step at a time.

Brand new conept, I know.  I realized that I get some of these ideas in my head and then get frustrated when they don’t pan out as well as I thought they might.  But again, that goes back to realizing not all ideas are going to work and I forget too easily that Dr. Trial and Mr. Error are two of the best teachers we all have.

What I have realized is I need to be asking myself this question instead of expecting sudden change:

What is one step I could take today in order to work on improving a certain area or implementing a particular idea?

One foot in front of the other, not one foot five steps ahead and the other five behind.  I have got to keep remembering that instead of getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ideas and strategies I come up with for teaching, church, life, etc.  Plus there is so much value in talking and sharing with others when you are part of a team!  Some things need to be written down, shared, and let go of because I’m not in authority over certain things and those in authority have a better handle on what may or may not work.  Other things I just need to slow down on and remember I can’t do it all by myself and expect change suddenly!  A hard thing for someone who is a perfectionist, but thinking about it has brought me to the conclusion that some of my discontent earlier in the year was because of this very thing.  I had a lot going on, things I wanted to do, things I was hearing that were inspiring me, and I kept those to myself, thought I could do it by myself or they fell flat and I bottled up that frustration instead of giving it to God.

So.  This ended up way longer than I thought it would.  Ah well.  The funny thing is that this guy posted about almost the exact same thing, it just came to both of us in different ways and manifests itself in our lives differently.

Long story short:

Patience is a virtue.  Don’t push it.  Consider the change or improvement you’d like to see made.  If it is personal, break it down into steps for yourrself.  If necessary, work through the steps with another person.  Take them one at a time.  Be consistent with them.  Evaluate them.  Watch change occur.

What one simple step could you make in improving and changing that condition that haunts you or the idea you would love to see implemented?


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