Thursday, January 29, 2009

Patient Love

Yesterday at pre-school Anna had to take a test… already… it’s pre-school, people! Anyway, it was this Kindergarten readiness test where they ask kids to identify letters and numbers, colors and shapes and body parts. They have to write their name, know their parents’ names and recite their address and phone number. Anna did great on the test and is really pretty pumped to talk about all about it, including what she got right and what she missed. Fortunately her teachers didn’t tell her it was a test until the end of the school day, because otherwise she may have freaked out and refused to do any of it. When we got in the car I asked her if it was fun taking a test and she said, “I didn’t know it was a test. I just thought it was my regular school work… so, yeah.” I realized that this was brilliant because some kids like Anna do not like being evaluated… even at age five.

Sometimes when I try to work with Anna on learning to read, she feels tested or pushed and simply shuts down. I’ll be reading along and come to a word she knows and say, “Anna, what word is this?” She’ll usually identify a couple words before she figures out what’s happening and raises her voice, saying, “Dad, I don’t want to do sight words! I just want you to read it, okay?!” Whenever this happens, I find myself getting frustrated because I know she’s right on the threshold of reading and I just keep waiting for her to cross over, but it’s as if she doesn’t want it. All of a sudden there’s this tension because I feel like she’s totally ready to read, but just doesn’t want to, so she just chooses to hold back and stay in the land of non-readers. I don’t push her to try and read after this happens, but in my heart I totally want to and this week I’ve been feeling really bad about that.

I was looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4, that most familiar of verses, that says, “Love is patient” and was trying to understand what that means. It turns out that the word for patient is a word that means ‘long-tempered.’ I know we don’t really use the word long tempered, but we do use the word ‘short-tempered’ and this just means the opposite. A person who loves well doesn’t have a short fuse… they don’t get all frustrated and heated up quickly. This same word ‘long-tempered’ is used in a bunch of places in the New Testament and translated ‘patient.’ I decided to look at some of these to figure out more about what it means to have patient love.

James uses this word in chapter 5 when he says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains?” When I read that I thought about farmers and how they can’t speed up the growth of what it is they want to see… they can only wait for it. They can’t go over to a sprouting corn stalk and start tugging and pulling on it just because they want it to be six-feet tall. They just have to wait. That’s patience, and that’s what my love is supposed to look like. I shouldn’t be pushing and pulling my little girl just because there are things I want to see in her! And when I realized this, I wondered if this is what my love looks like across the board… Do I have a program in mind for everyone in my life? And, am I bringing tension when people don’t line up with my program? We need to have patient love… the love of a farmer. He knows he wants a crop, but he doesn’t push, pull or uproot, he just waits. That’s the way I want to be.

1 comment:

The Hull Munchkins said...

Oh Anna, the testing is already beginning!? I know she is the brightest most fun personality in her class. Of course she A-c'd it.

I needed to hear that about having patience!

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