Why impatience hurts you now

One of my old college professors (whose name I can’t remember for the life of me) said that “Impatience is a product of selfishness.” At first I didn’t really think anything of it, but later when I found myself becoming impatient and frustrated with something, it suddenly made sense. Every time I feel myself becoming impatient I think back on that statement, and it often helps me keep myself in check.

I feel like everyone talks about the current generation as the “now” generation. It feels like a new study comes out every week where scientists and researchers are talking about how instant gratification is changing the current generations’ brain chemistry or expectations. While I agree that high-speed internet, Google, fast food, and instant messaging definitely has an effect, it’s not the underlying cause. These things only make the cause more pronounced. The cause for all of this “now” mentality is that we are selfish. Since the beginning of time there have always been impatient and selfish people. The olden days with no internet or cars that could go over 60 miles per hour were not completely filled with people displaying zen-master levels of patience. There were selfish and impatient people back then, just as there are now.

The reason impatience is a form of selfishness is because the very attitude of impatience, in its essence, says that “I shouldn’t have to wait for X”, and that is a very self-centered view of the world. We are all impatient and selfish about certain things, even though some are better at hiding it than others. We all want to get the special things we feel like we deserve as quickly as possible. Generation Y has been brought up with the idea that we are special, and because we are special, we shouldn’t have to put in years of work. We think we should land the job of our dreams a week after getting the diploma because the world should see how exceptional we are, and that’s just not the case. Things take time and work. LOTS of time and work. For some reason we feel this is unfair.

Guess what? It is, and that’s the point. If life was easy we wouldn’t have any meaning, and we often don’t appreciate things without having to sweat and toil for a while to get there. We rush our careers, our material possessions, our relationships, the list goes on. We do this because we feel we HAVE to get them now, because once we have them, we’ll be happy, and it’s not true.

Has it over occurred to you that maybe the reason you desire all of these things without the work is because you want the STATUS you believe they bring? People can put anything on a pedestal, and so often we race up it only to find that it wasn’t very tall to begin with.

Impatience is entitlement in another form, and we often let this sneak into how we look at God. We think God is here to give us our “best life now” and that we deserve blessings and success, but this is far from the truth. We aren’t entitled to anything. Following God in many ways makes life harder. We are called to live not for ourselves. We’re called to sacrifice, to love others above ourselves, to point other people to God and not us, and we will be persecuted for it. Denying yourself isn’t a glamorous thing, and for some reason we think we should be immediately rewarded for it. God doesn’t work on our timetable. He throws the timetable out all together:

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:8-10) 

Why? Because he’s God and we are not. He created and owns time. So how can we expect to know better than him and demand he stick to our schedule?

Isaiah 55:8-9 says”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 

Joseph had to wait years to see God’s promises come to fruition, but the hardship he experienced in that time of waiting is what molded and prepared him for what God had planned all along. What if God is doing the same right now with you? Are you willing to wait years to see God’s promise come through?

Right now, instead of constantly looking to the future, I’m trying to focus on what I can do in the present. I’m praying for God to help me see why he has me where I am right now and what I can do for him now.  A friend of mine said that whenever he started to feel impatient, he’d stop and look back on everything leading to his current situation. When he did this, he said, he saw a clear path that God had him on, and it helped him understand the journey was still going, and better things lay ahead if he was just patient and kept faithful in his work.

I pray to have that attitude.

Impatience hurts us now because we lose sight of what God is doing in us right now. We end up not being able to see the forest for the trees. Let’s try to be thankful for the now and be mindful of what we could be doing where we are for God instead of constantly aching for the next thing. If we do nothing but look forward to the next thing, we very well miss THIS thing God has right in front of us.

image via http://www.mnn.com/sites/default/files/impatience.jpg

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