Love is patient. Love is kind.[originally posted January 31, 2011]
Yesterday I stayed with my dad while my sister took my mom out for a fun break. We watched men’s figure skating championships, and although Dad announced he might nap, I was delighted he stayed awake and engaged the whole two hours. By engaged, I mean this:
During Jeremy Abbott’s first number, Dad exclaimed, “You know, when he jumps, I can’t tell how many times he goes around.” I answered, “Yeah, he spun so fast, didn’t he? Our only clue is if the announcer says it’s a triple axel or something.” Dad looked a bit puzzled, so I added, “Then we’d know it was three spins.” He nodded.
During Ryan Bradley’s first number, Dad exclaimed, “I just can’t count how many times he spins in the air.” I answered, “They really twirl so fast, it’s hard to count, isn’t it?” He nodded.
Richard Dornbush’s number elicited Dad’s now-familiar, “I just can’t tell how many times he spins in the air” and my now-standard response.
On this interaction went, punctuated by a few wows and did-you-see-thats, through the first round. When the second round began and Abbott was once again airborne, Dad continued his commentary mixed with awe and frustration. The same for Bradley’s, Dornbush’s, and the others’ second performances. I continued affirming the skaters’ dizzying speed, occasionally noting that the skater had referred to a “quad” in an interview, so he must have spun four times. Imagine that! Dad smiled and shook his head in awe.
Patience with my dad was abundant and natural because I know Alzheimer’s renders him incapable of more, and I was so delighted to be sharing this experience with him—on any level. I regret to admit I do not exhibit equal patience when my husband mentions three weeks in a row [let’s see, would that be a triple? :-)] he will check the windshield washer fluid in my car. I also wish I didn’t have to admit how much more patience my husband has with me when I perform a triple—promising three weeks (only with mending, it’s probably more like three months) in a row to sew a button on his shirt.
And then, there’s God’s patience with me, too. Yesterday in church during one worship song, I thrust both hands chandelier-ward (where apparently God resides during services) and belted out lyrics gushing my surrender of all that I am and all that I have to my Lord—who knows, in fact, all I’m holding back from surrendering. He loves my wanting to surrender all, even though He knows I’m not capable of even understanding that right now, let alone doing it.
I need to remember God is molding everyone’s clay just as He desires. As God pulls someone out of His kiln and paints on glaze, I might not need quite as much patience because s/he can already function as a teapot whose spout has been tested or as a graceful vase that doesn’t leak. But with people still wobbling on God’s spinning pottery wheel, I need to be patient with wet-clay slip that flies off and slaps me as they spin. I see today how slip-spattered God’s cheeks are with what’s flying off me as I spin on His wheel. Strong divine fingers that firm up my clay are bumpy with sloppy gray blobs of my broken promises, weak resolutions, selfish acts, and God’s quadruple axels unfathomably fast for my eyes. Yet He is patient with my limitations. And He is kind to me—way more tender than I deserve. And He delights that I want to share His life as I am able.