Learning Patience

Irish road signs

Which way do we go??

Several times during the first couple weeks after we got our new-to-us car I questioned its merits. Before the car, we felt healthier because we’d been walking everywhere. Without a car, there were no arguments about one another’s driving habits. And I felt a lot less fearful when we rode in experienced drivers’ cars.

Suddenly, we had the freedom to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and getting there took a lot less time. BUT, driving through our new town took significantly more mental energy.

Driving on the other side of the road, from the other side of the car, shifting left-handed, I kept reminding myself, “This isn’t America; the person behind me isn’t mad at me for driving a bit slow.” Really. No one honked at our mistakes at the roundabouts (yield right, drive left), or even seemed to notice the funny faces I made as I cringed, squeezing between the parked cars on the left and the oncoming traffic on the right on our crazy-narrow roads.

Driving on the other side of unfamiliar roads can still be incredibly stressful, but, thankfully, road rage isn’t something we have to worry about. Patience is a well-honed virtue in Ireland. And, it’s a virtue God is teaching us.

It’s All About Expectations
Three weeks ago, in anticipation of moving into our new home, Brian called the phone company to arrange for internet and phone service. We’d been warned that it can take two weeks to get it installed, and we were going to get a jump on it…outsmart the system. The company scheduled to come to our new house on Monday morning and even sent a text to confirm.

We loaded the car Monday morning, drove to the ATM to get cash for our first month’s rent and then on to the property management office to pick up the keys.

“Oh, so sorry. The previous tenant took the keys to work with him this morning. He forgot to drop them here first… He said he would bring them by at a quarter after one on his lunch break,” the office manager informed us.

That wasn’t what we expected. We expected that the office would have the keys, would have already inspected the house, and had it cleaned and ready for us first thing on Monday. It was already 11 a.m. We felt the morning and the hope of internet service slipping away by the second.

“But don’t worry, there’s no chance the tech will be on time,” she assured us.

He was on time, and we missed him by a couple hours. So now, we’re waiting a few more weeks for Internet service at our home. Visits to the local cafes and the McDonalds parking lot are part of daily life as we try to keep up with work deadlines, bills and friends and family members.

Not having reliable internet for going on six weeks now isn’t what we expected, but:

  • It is teaching us that we don’t really have to have everything at our fingertips. Web-dependence isn’t necessarily a good thing.
  • We are learning not to expect life to work as if “time is money.” In this culture, the priorities are different—not better, not worse, just different.

As Christians seeking to build relationships, our prayer is, “Lord, don’t let us lose our cool or lose sight of why we’re here.” We want to reflect the love and grace of Christ, especially in the midst of inconveniences and shattered expectations. There are hundreds of ways to show Christ to people every day through common interactions… and hundreds of ways to blow it and let our pride take over.

So, whether we are receiving grace from the other drivers on the road, or extending grace by not demanding that our expectations be immediately (or even eventually) met, God is teaching us patience. I hope it’ s a lesson we can learn quickly. 😉

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