I hope you are navigating through the new normal we find ourselves in. I know for myself and for Illiana, it seems like everyday there is a new challenge and new things we have to figure out. We are excited to get the school year off the ground in two weeks with in-person learning, albeit with a lot of new additions and restrictions. I will talk more about those in the next few weeks.
A few weeks ago I did a Covid19 wedding for some former students. I do a lot of weddings for former students and I love seeing them grow into wonderful adults who love each other and Jesus. When writing the message for their wedding, the verse they asked me to preach on was Ephesians 4:2 which says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” There is so much in this verse, but one of the things I challenged them on is to choose patience. You are not going to magically be more patient or begin to feel the great feeling of calmness. Patience is not a feeling. It is a choice and in our world right now it is more important than ever to choose patience.
I feel as a community, as people, and as Christians, we have become less patient with people and each other. I have seen it so much lately in regard to whether someone is wearing a mask or not wearing a mask. I have seen people yelling because someone is going the wrong way down the grocery aisle. I have seen people get in fights in road construction zones, yell in offices, or scream at someone on the sidewalk… and this is just in the last few months. I have also seen this on social media: when we see something we don’t like, with zero patience, we right away fire off a response, sometimes in very unhealthy ways.
Here is the thing. When we are not patient and when we react in emotion and not in patience, in the end what we do is devalue people. We fail to see the person with whom we are frustrated as a person with a heart, a soul, and a mind who is made in the image of God. On top of that, we have no idea what is going in in their life right now. When we choose patience, in a sense what we are trying to do is choose grace. It doesn’t mean what happened is ok. It just means we are going to try to value people and sometimes we just need to slow down to do that.
I used to be a very impatient person. I remember when I coached Varsity basketball at Illiana, I would get so frustrated and lose patience very quickly with my players or officials. One of the things I learned to do was count to 10. It actually became a thing sometimes and my players would be laughing at me because they would see me counting to 10 as I paced the sidelines. However, it really helped me because as I counted, I would begin to think about the person behind my frustration. I would see that there was a kid there who didn’t purposely turn the ball over. He was trying his best and he has a heart and a soul that I need to be coaching right now. Or I would think of the official. No official goes into a game and tries to purposely make bad calls. They are doing something I want nothing to do with (officiating a basketball game), so I need to see them as people and not bad calls. I will be honest, it didn’t always work and sometimes my emotions got the best of me then and they still do today. But committing to choosing patience has made a big difference in my life.
I mention this because in the next weeks and months we are all going to need to choose patience a lot. We are in uncharted territory when it comes to trying to do in-person learning in a pandemic. Every one of us needs to choose patience as parents, teachers, students, administrators, and the greater Illiana community. Maybe we all need to count to 10 and realize that all of us– every single one of us– wants our children to be healthy, to grow academically, to grow spiritually, and to grow relationally. So when we get frustrated, let’s choose to realize that there is a heart and soul in each one of us and we are image bearers of Christ. Let’s choose to value the people behind the frustration. Because in the end that is what Jesus does for us. He chooses patience every day because He sees his kids which he gave his life for. Hang in there Illiana Community.
– Lance Davids, Director of Advancement, Vision, and Spiritual Development