The first day or two that we were on pilgrimage in Rome, the students were entering church after church with necks that craned heavenward. It was the natural response to the beautiful architecture that we were encountering. They took pictures galore, marveling over magnificent domes and intricate mosaics that adorned the walls. Our hearts were overflowing with beauty. My students from South Dakota were encountering some of the greatest artists the world has ever had to offer.
By day three, however, they were growing bored with the church after church schedule, regardless how beautiful they were. One of the girls that seemed quite invested in photography went from executing creative basilica photo shoots to nonchalantly sitting in a pew during a stop in another church.
“Isn’t it funny how quickly we get bored of all this beauty?” I asked her as I watched other students mill around aimlessly. “Yes!” she replied, perhaps noticing for the first time how much her response had changed to the loveliness around her.
And we spoke for a few minutes about how amazed we all were the first day and how quickly we were tired of what had been novel only a couple days before. My tiredness didn’t match the students’ expressions, but I did have to remind myself to keep looking at the churches with wonder and not simply let my eyes glaze over.
For this last stretch of Lent, I’ve been trying to grow in patience in a few small key ways.
I started to limit tracking things.
I noticed that I would unnecessarily follow things and that my time and mental energy could be better spent elsewhere. For example, when ordering packages online, I like to daily track their progress so I can see when they ship and when they should arrive at my house. That is entirely unwarranted–seeing where they are doesn’t make them arrive any faster and it isn’t crucial to see how long it took to transfer from one shipping carrier to another.
Or blog stats. When I post a blog, I like to monitor it to see how many views it gets and when they come in. Which countries are viewing my blog? What website leads them to my blog? All of which is unnecessary to follow so diligently. Occasionally looking at it is one thing, but semi-obsessively checking it in the first few hours or day after posting isn’t helpful.
I even noticed that I will habitually check my tire pressure, percentage of oil remaining, and battery life as I drive between work and home. Sometimes I do it so absentmindedly that I have to check it again because the numbers didn’t sink in as I reflexively scrolled through the stats. Over the past few days, I have found my left hand nearly twitching to see the various car facts appear on the display screen.
It was definitely a first world problem. Still at school when I wanted to be at home, I was printing off tests for the following day. The lovely printer (that a couple years ago I found incredible because it could print double-sided, staple, and three-hole punch documents) was now testing my patience.
The printer would spit out a few copies, stop, and then flash a message saying that it had a paper jam. I opened the main compartment, pulled out three pieces of paper in various stages of the printing process, and forcefully closed the panel. Then I opened a lower paper tray and pulled out another piece of crumpled paper. The printer resumed its job.
For a couple copies at least. Then the process repeated itself. I was tired and wanted to be at home, not fixing paper jam after paper jam on a printer. Generally, I consider myself to be a fairly patient person. But this was testing my resolve. I needed just a few more copies before the job was completed, and I didn’t want to spend my time throwing away crumpled pieces of paper.
So, Lord, what can you be teaching me in this?
Sadly, I must assure you that this is not my go-to question. I’m not walking around, constantly seeing the Lord’s hand in everything. But every now and then, the Lord will remind me that He is present and will shine through in the midst of some mundane activity. Like changing a light bulb or fixing a paper jam. Continue reading “Paper Jams and Patience”→