Opportunity to be patient

He, verily, rewardeth beyond measure them that endure with patience.
(Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 72)

Last week was the longest uninterrupted period of quality time I got to spent with my precious girls in a year. We went on vacation at the Baha’i Social and Economic Development conference in Orlando, FL. There were many touching, joyful moments and many frustrating ones. I had an opportunity to reflect on many things, one of which was the need for patience in parenting.

As I was walking with Sofia and Juliet towards a nearby movie theater to see “Princess and the Frog”, we had to cross a construction site which had fenced a walkway to guide the pedestrians safely to their destination. The girls joyfully hopped and walked and sang and stopped as we were moving slowly ahead, instantly absorbed by every little thing that grabbed their attention, while I was trying to usher them patiently so we get to the movie theater on time.

At that moment I imagined us all on our path from the perspective of God, Who gives us a direction, shows us the way — sometimes fenced, other times open — gently nudges us to move along, reminding us what the ultimate destination is while never becoming impatient as we absentmindedly get focused on things of lesser importance. Why that is, I thought? Because He loves us, and He knows that all these little distractions are part of our lives. Difficult as these distractions make finding the balance of life, without them we would be sterile masters of the pursuit of check-box lists of achievements. Each little blade of grass Sofia picked or each little pebble Juliet gathered from the path we were on, were for them as important as the ambition of getting on time to see the latest Disney movie. As I observed them immersed in the moment, I was gratefully rejoicing in the gift God had given me — the gift of patience. Or rather, the gift of an opportunity to be patient!

For as God was addressing Evan Baxter in the movie “Evan Almighty”:

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

So, I have been given an immense opportunity to be patient in my sincere attempts to be the best father I can be. And God is a masterful, patient teacher! His Messenger too, gives us marvelous guidance. As a newly discovered friend pointed: “Here is one opportunity to be patient: read the Tablet known as Suriy-i Sabr (Surih of Patience), or Lawh-i Ayyub (the Tablet of Job) by Baha’u’llah“!

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