Category Archives: Patience

Christmas Contradictions

“Merry Christmas!” Greetings exchanChristmas Contradictionsged and acknowledged with a glance and perhaps a contrived smile. After waiting in line at checkout and then waiting in another line for the checkers at the door to draw a squiggly line through our receipt, perhaps what we really mean is, “Let me out of here. I’m tired of waiting in lines, and feeling claustrophobic from the crowded aisles. I’m tired of driving in circles to find a parking space, and then needing a GPS to remember where I finally parked!”

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like life is full of contradictions, especially at Christmas. We hurry up to have a little time to slow down. We exchange greetings with strangers and sit silently with members of our own family that we have lost touch with. We make small talk when we are deep in thought about what we would really like to say. We spend too much on gifts nobody needs while worrying about how we will pay for it all. We talk about the weather outside and hide the storm brooding inside our hearts. We celebrate peace on earth and goodwill toward men while our countenance shoots daggers at the person who pulled out in front of us or stole the only remaining parking spot we had already claimed as our own from two rows away.

Yet if we slow down long enough to reflect on our motives, I suspect we will discover something at a deeper level. We really do have good intentions. We really don’t wish harm to anyone. We really do have deep longings for connection, for peace on earth and peace at home. We really do want to be generous. We just don’t slow down long enough to drink deeply enough from those wells of meaning to find satisfaction or significance in our hurry, worry, and scurry. The end is somehow lost in the means. Our actions contradict what is truly in our hearts and we are left spent—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The empty feeling we are left with contradicts all of our good intentions.

So remember this, sometimes it feels like everything is about to fall apart when in reality things are just about ready to come together. Surely that is how Joseph and Mary felt when they could find no room in the inn, or when they were forced to escape to Egypt, or when people called their son illegitimate. Hardship and heartache walked hand in hand with happiness and hope.

There often exists a contradiction between our circumstances and God’s divine destiny. Being happy is not incongruent with being harried or hassled. And unfavorable circumstances do not always lead to unfavorable outcomes. Three eternal things make the difference: faith, hope and love. If you can anchor your heart and actions on these, and take a little time to reflect on what is really important, while examining your motives behind your actions, you will minimize the contradictions and maximize the intended consequences.

Merry Christmas!  ©2013 Don Detrick

Persistence

Persistence - pansy in concrete w copyrightI did a double take when I saw it. A single yellow pansy blooming in the driveway. Certainly nobody planted it there, yet somehow a seed took root. And there it was, its sweet pansy face peeking up from a crack in the concrete. I had to stop and take a photo of a literal “bloom where you are planted” story.

How often do I complain about how the present location isn’t ideally suited to take root, bloom, and produce? Or maybe the timing isn’t right. Or maybe I just don’t have enough time. Besides, everybody knows you can’t grow pansies in concrete cracks. Of course, weeds seem to flourish there. But here was a pansy staring me in the face and reminding me that against all odds, and even without ideal circumstances or conditions, blooming is indeed a possibility. The flower’s beauty and contrast with its harsh concrete surroundings was both stunning and defying the logic of my conventional wisdom.

Persistence. Patience. Possibility. These are the makings of everyday miracles. Stick with it. Don’t give up. And don’t stop believing. What do Olympic athletes have in common? Certainly some degree of natural skill and ability. Beyond that, they stick with it. They don’t give up. And they don’t stop believing they can win. In spite of the daily grind requiring long hours of practice, blistered bodies, bruised egos, and tired muscles, they persevere. And the most persistent usually take home the gold.

The same could be said for virtually every worthwhile pursuit. You could become proficient in a foreign language by studying a few minutes a day. Every day. For a long time. You could become a good pianist if you take lessons every week, practice 30 minutes every day, and do so over an extended period of time.

You’ll need to up the ante if you want to become a concert pianist, and very few do–really want to, that is. Because if you just want to a little, it won’t happen. You have to want to a lot, and then act accordingly. Persistently. Consistently. For a very long time. Despite less than ideal circumstances. Despite distractions. Despite sacrificing personal comfort.

What do you want to do? What is keeping you from accomplishing that dream? Persistence. Patience. Possibility. You can do it. You can find freedom from your circumstances and limitations. Just look at the photo of the pansy emerging from its concrete prison and let your dreams bloom right where you are planted. God, who specializes in making the impossible possible, can help you overcome adversities that you cannot conquer on your own.

It’s not an easy road. Easy roads are paved with good intentions and filled with potholes of adversity. Easy roads have weeds growing in the cracks. The road less travelled is paved with persistence, patience, and possibility. The potholes of adversity are still there, but the traveler choosing that route might just be greeted with the face of an unexpected pansy along the way.