Sneaky peek i


When I was a child, there were two occasions during the year when my patience was tested to the limit. They were the week in June, leading up to my birthday, and nearly the whole of December! I usually managed to hold back without searching out the presents, but I know I did occasionally lift the wrapping paper and take a sneaky look. Of course, I always felt worse for giving in to the temptation, and had to endure the guilt of tarnishing the special day.

All my life I have been learning to be patient. It continues to be a struggle. If you have bought a house, you may know what I mean. The solicitors seem to take forever completing their searches and preparing contracts. If you’ve had an illness that requires a medical appointment, the waiting can seem interminable. Even the recently booked holiday can’t come round quickly enough.

Last August, I was invited to lead a project setting up a social supermarket. The launch was provisionally set for October, but, for reasons outside my control, we are now expecting to open in May! A whole winter has gone by when we could have helped people struggling with the cost of living. My patience was truly tested. However, in many ways the delay has been helpful to me. I have had time to prepare the policies, recruit the volunteers, and learn from those doing similar work in other parts of the Nourishing Norfolk Network. I am sure that, if my desires and dreams were always fulfilled instantly, I would be worse for it.

Over the years I have come to realise that the most patient people are often those that hold onto the big picture. They are not distracted by the small stumbling blocks. They focus on the goal, which is about helping others rather than seeking personal pleasure or satisfaction.

In the New Testament, St Paul writes an incredibly beautiful description of love. The very first quality he draws upon to describe this love is patience. He then emphasises that love is about looking to the needs of others and taking our eyes off ourselves. ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking…’

During my childhood, when my attention was very definitely focused on myself, in the background the Beatles were singing a song ‘All you need is love, love is all you need’. I didn’t learn it then, I hope I’m learning it now.

*I Corinthians 13 verses 4 and 5.