I'll never forget the birthday when my grandma gave me a needlepoint she had made of a sweet little girl dancing. Above her head were the words, "Patience is a virtue." I'm afraid she was hoping that it would rub off on me. It didn't.
I do okay being patient about some things: long lines (on the rare occasion when I'm not in a hurry), deadlines (when I'm not finished with my project), other people's birthdays (when I haven't thought of what to get them) and my own lack of growth in this area. Um... yeah. It's time to stop being patient when it comes to my impatience!
Patience is still a virtue. And it's not one I possess, at least not in my own strength. Call me Eager. Driven. Energetic. Or call it what it is ... impatience. Impatience and motherhood do not make a good combination.
In my Hebrew class this weekend we were translating Psalm 103. The Psalmist tucks a quotation from Exodus 34 right into the middle of his own poetic celebration of God's goodness. In verse 8 he says, "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, long of nose and great in lovingkindness." Long of nose? Unlike Pinocchio's long nose, which signified his dishonesty, this long nose is a good thing. 'A long nose' is the Hebrew equivalent of having a 'long fuse.' The God who made us does not snap at us in anger. His anger takes a long time to kindle.
I realized that dealing with my short fuse (or nose!) is not just a matter of acheiving a more peaceful home, but a matter of becoming more like God himself. If God is slow to become angry with me, shouldn't I be slow to become angry with my children?
The New Testament offers some specific guidance for how I can become more like my maker. Galatians 5 says that the fruit of a Spirit-filled life is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindess, goodness, faithfullness, gentleness, self-control." These are not qualities we try to conjure up by sheer will power. (I've tried. It doesn't work.) No, this is what our life will look like when we recognize our constant need for the Holy Spirit's power at work in us.
Come, Holy Spirit. Stretch my nose.
Monday, September 13, 2010
a long nose (and other virtues)
Dr. Carmen Imes is the Associate Professor of Old Testament at Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta, and serves the broader church through teaching, speaking, and writing. She earned a PhD in Biblical Theology (Old Testament) from Wheaton College under Dr. Daniel Block, an MA in Biblical Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a BA in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. She and her husband, Danny, served as missionaries with SIM 15 years. They have three children: Ana, Emma, and Easton.