In Chapter two of Gaze Upon Jesus, we are gazing with patience.
Patience, I was taught, was the virtue you never prayed for. Many believe that when you pray for patience, instead of being instantaneously gifted with patience, the Lord gives you lots of opportunities to practice and perfect this virtue.
In Search of Patience: The Visitation, Maria Morera Johnson writes, “The patient person responds with calm to things that cannot be controlled” (Gaze Upon Jesus, p. 56). If by calm she means keeping my cool on the outside, while frantically praying on the inside for the Lord to move things along, then sure I’m a patient person. How hard it can be to realize what we can and cannot control.
In 2009, our family was matched with a beautiful toddler for adoption. We were told to expect to travel within 6 to 8 weeks to bring her home. Then came a rapid snowball of circumstances that lead to a 6-month delay in actually being able to travel to China. With every email or phone call delivering more reasons why we had to wait to meet our little girl, I became more anxious, frustrated, and impatient with this process.
The Holy Spirit gently convicted my heart as I read Maria’s poignant portrayal of how Mary exercised the virtue of patience, “The Blessed Virgin Mary is the epitome of trust. From the very first moment of her fiat, she put trust in the Lord, and bore her suffering patiently, without complaint, without negotiating a different circumstance. Instead, she exhibited, acceptance” (Gaze, p. 57).
In this long delay to adopt Faithy, I was the epitome of distrust. My prayers were a constant begging for the Lord to hurry up the process. I whined (and even cried) to the Lord to release me from the suffering of waiting, and bring our daughter home. I bartered with the Lord, offering to pray more and sin less, or even call my Mother more often if He would just allow us to be with our daughter. I was desperate to stop the wait and gaze upon her little face.
One day in Adoration, as I began to complain to the Lord, my heart was struck by an unexpected inspiration. I thought, my family will have a lifetime with Faithy, but her foster family must say goodbye forever. A profound peace, as I finally accepted God’s plan, came over me.
Shortly after arriving in China, we received a social worker’s report of Faithy’s life in foster care. The report detailed a close relationship with her foster father. Letting her go could not have been easy for him. In my impatience, I had forgotten God has more than just my prayers to answer.
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Allison Gingras is the founder of ReconciledToYou.com – where she shares the beauty of the Catholic Faith with honesty, laughter, and relatable examples from everyday, ordinary life! Her newest project is the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (Gracewatch.Media/Connected) and includes her first book, The Gift of Invitation: 7 Ways Jesus Invites Us into a Life of Grace. Allison hosts A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras on BreadboxMedia.com Allison is a Social Media Consultant for Kennedy Brownrigg Group and Online Book Club Specialist with WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.
Patience is difficult in the best of circumstances and next to impossible in the worst of situations for me. I too was given the advice of “not praying for patience” because there will be many trials for you to practice with. One area where I have made some small strides in patience is in our finances. I currently receive a money once a year for a debt that was owed to my mother. Well, I check the mailbox every day, waiting for this check. I never know whether it will come at the beginning, the middle or the end of the month. On occasion it has come a month late. I have stopped obsessing about when the check will arrive, because God always provides for me. There are many areas that I continue to struggle with patience, but I keep at it. I still don’t pray for patience, I’m just grateful when I look back and see that I had some.