While I am not a big fan of spiders (especially indoors), I do not have arachnophobia. If a spider crosses my path I will enjoy watching it for a time. I am in awe of their construction and design skills. I am also awed by their tenacity to spin a web even when it gets torn apart or knocked down. Many times I have been working in the garden, felt and then inadvertently pulled apart a web that was built between two plants or between the shed roof and door. Of course the spider didn’t know that her web was built across a thoroughfare for my gardening. Yet, even when it has been continually knocked down by my passing, the spider will rebuild. Spiders are tenacious and incredibly patient. They will spin a web and wait until their prey gets stuck at which time they will wrap it with more webbing and will eventually eat it. I once watched a spider just hang out on her web for hours waiting for dinner.
I have been thinking about patience and tenacity. Two words that in my mind do not seem to go together yet they are synonyms. For some reason when I think of patience, I think of passivity, inactivity and submissiveness. With tenacity I think of strength, perseverance, and fierce determination. When in actuality, patience is a very strong word. It is another one of those paradoxical ideas: it takes a lot of strength and resolve to choose to be patient.
The other day an acquaintance asked us to give him a ride. We were to pick him up at his residence and drop him off a couple of towns away. It worked out in our schedule to do it and so we arrived at his place slightly earlier than expected. We called him, told him we were outside but since we were early for him to take his time and come out when ready.
When he finally got into our car and was ready to leave, he extolled our virtue of patience in our waiting for him.
Boy, that is one virtue that doesn’t readily come to mind when I think of myself! I find that I am fighting the impatient bug all the time.
But it did get me thinking- how does one cultivate patience?
There are at least 25 Bible verses about patience. Many of the versus describe patience as a characteristic of God and for anyone who is a friend and follower of God’s. It is the expression of relationships- love is characterized by patience. Patience is also a by-product and evidence of one who is filled with the Spirit and God’s love. The Bible in James says that trials produce patience. But can one learn patience without having to go through a hellish time?
Perhaps so. One of the learned outcomes of difficult experiences is that we realize that so much of life is beyond our control. We either cannot plan for every situation or even if we think we have planned for every situation, something will go amiss. We cannot control circumstances, people or weather. Sometimes we need to relinquish our control and accept what has unfolded before us.
Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay which is many times what happens when we give up total control.
Our one son has always said, “No worries. It’s all good.” Now he might be just trying to tell us, his worrying parents to back off, but I think he does feel confident that all things will work out in whatever way they need to do so. I think he is very tolerate of delays and working through alternative plans.
I find that I can be patient when I have allowed margin in my life- whether that is actual physical time, emotional space or financial wiggle room. I don’t feel so agitated when I have to stop and rearrange my life, my thoughts or my money and so I can pause and be accepting if things are not going according to plan.
I also find that I am more patient when I remain grateful and humble of my own circumstances. When I recognize all the blessings that I have and what an honor it is to share with others: time, money, possessions. I can tolerate delay when I know that I have enough and there is no threat or rush that what I “have” will be taken away.
The word tenacity has roots in the old Latin- tenacious which means to hold fast. Hold fast to what is true, honorable, loving, generous, gracious, kind. Even hold fast to those things that require patience- submission to another’s wish, forbearing another’s burden, tolerating and accepting delays in our lives.
No wonder that God is love and love is patient. God = patient. When I hold fast to God, when I am tenacious in my living for God and emulating Him, I too can begin to learn patience in my life’s journey.
What about you? How patient are you? How did you cultivate it? By trial? By error? By emulating God? Are you tenacious? Do you give up easily? What determines how long you stick with something? Interest? Love for someone or something?
What are your thoughts about spiders and webs and patience and tenacity?