I’ve loved fishing for as long as I can remember. This summer, I spent as much time fishing as I could on our vacation. My earliest memories are of my dad taking us fishing as kids, waiting as he would help us set up our tackle and bait. Learning how to throw in the line and how to watch and wait.
After years of fishing, I’ve learned patience is what it takes to be a good fisherman– first as a kid on the lake, then through my college years, when my brother and I would load up my little red Honda Civic with fishing poles, sunflower seeds, and lots of Mountain Dew. On my one day off a week from work, I’d look forward to spending that day at the beach. We’d walk the long pier in Ocean Beach, fishing a whole day away. Sometimes hours would pass before I’d catch my first fish.
And when we went fishing on our beach trip, my son would ask: Did I catch one yet? Can I check? I explained how sometimes you have to wait a very long time. So long that maybe you’ll think you’ll never catch a fish, but if you wait long enough, eventually, you’ll catch one.
Isn’t patience one of those magical cures for everything?
In motherhood when our patience wears thin we feel stressed and uneasy–we begin to doubt our abilities as mothers. We yell more. We feel like we’re constantly on edge. As if we are barely keeping our head above water. Kids being kids begin to annoy you–the hand prints on the just cleaned window, the trail of socks and shoes thrown on the just cleaned floor.
But when we pause, breathe, and slow down the frantic pace we often impose on ourselves–patience feels right. We take the time to explain how to open the door without leaving hand prints and teach them how to use a rag to wipe away the smudges. Using gentle reminders to have them put away their shoes–things that seemed so big and overwhelming without a patient heart, seem so insignificant, and infinitely easier to manage when we practice patience.
And we are rewarded: we feel better, life feels less rocky, we notice more smiles–we laugh more.
But patience must be grown.
It would be easy for me to say: I just wasn’t gifted with patience. I’m not like my Grandma, who I never heard raise her voice, who never rushed her grandchildren, or snapped at us for making messes. Though God may not have gifted me with a patient heart, I know I can be patient. He’s gifted us with the ability to have a patient heart, but it’s something that must be tended to and nurtured. When we neglect it, it beings to wither and fade.
In running, new runners want to know: When will it get easy? When will it be fun? But those of us who have been doing it a while know–patience is the key. There is no prescribed day or time when it happens. In running, it’s like the waves of the ocean–it ebbs and flows and sometimes running is so hard, so very hard that you question your sanity. But patience tells us, a good run is right around the corner–be patient, it’ll show up and remind you why you lace up day after day.
I was reminded of the need to have a patient heart when I was running in 100 degree take-my-breath-away heat of our Austin summer this past Saturday. Every step from the first to the last felt as if I was running through mud–my legs felt so heavy, my face was burning from the heat, whenever there was a breeze it was like an oven was blowing onto my face–no relief, all pain. I refused to give up but as I rounded the corner for home, my watch finally beeping 8 miles, tears sprung to my eyes. I was so relieved to be done. 8 measly miles and it was so hard. How will I ever make it 92 more? Those unspoken words felt like they were caught in my throat.
Patience my heart answered.
And that one word gifted me with both relief and excitement. Because running has taught me nothing is impossible. Running has taught me, I can do hard things. Running has taught me I may give it my all, and still, I might fail–but in the stumbling there are lessons to be learned. Running has taught me that the journey to the finish line is filled with highs and lows and to embrace it all because you blink and suddenly it’s over and you are wishing it didn’t go by so fast.
8 miles is a long time to run, and so is 13.1 and 26.2, 50, and 52.4. And 100? Well, that feels like an eternity right now. But I know what I need to do to cross my first 100 mile finish line. Put in the miles. One step after the other.
Reminders of patience are all around me. Seasons remind me– be patient. As I was running the trail on Saturday, the dry dirt and nearly crispy weeds were crunching underneath my feet. I remember when that same trail had swallowed me up with stunning wild flowers, green, yellow, gold and red–wasn’t that just yesterday? Where water flowed under a bridge, now, there isn’t a drop to be found. The land is dry and brown the summer heat feels oppressive–my breathing feels shallow as I search for any shade I can find. And I know. Patience. Time will continue to go by. Seasons change. Before I know it I’ll be running in cooler fall and winter air–thankful for the relief.
I’m letting my patient heart grow. Tending to it, reminding myself what needs to be done to strengthen my legs, my lungs, my heart, and my mind so that I can just get to the start of the 100 mile race. I will not get there overnight. But before I know it, my day will come. In the meantime, I’ll throw my line in the water and wait.
Never Give Up,