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  • Writer's pictureJenni

The Rot of Impatience

duane mendes, unsplash

I want patience,

and I want it now!

Did you chuckle? This was a popular preacher's get-some-laughs line whenever the topic was Patience. But it's a joke that still works today.

Patience is hard, and our fast-paced, efficient society filled with conveniences makes it harder. We are used to quick and quicker. But the price we pay with our souls and our relationships is evident. So we see the pushback with mindfulness, meditation, the slow movement and so on.

I really am curious to know statistically how many people are truly more calm, more patient and happier with so much spa, retreats and yoga going on everywhere.

But what's the big deal with a 'lil impatience? A lot.

For starters, it's pretty much 'grump' to be around those who are irritable and convey that they cannot wait to move on to the next thing. In fact, impatience breeds many other woes, including:

communication breakdowns


bad decisions

These in turn can lead to burnt bridges, broken hearts, shattered relationships and regrets that sap hope and faith for the future.


Those of us in Singapore can all remember how a few years ago, the news was hogged by unprecedented train problems. We had trains that stopped mid-tracks, didn't stop at stations, announced wrong information, and even flooded by heavy rains, experienced a massive twenty-hour outage. People called for heads to roll. The company offered the unusual move of amnesty in order to surface the reason for the flooding. The Parliament talked about it.

Naturally for a modern economy, train failures supposedly cost us. It's inefficient and creates a lot of inconvenience (those words again) and extra work.

Who doesn't like a well-oiled system that never fails?

(As an aside, if we cling to these values, we will capitulate to machines very soon. They are, after all, more predictable as long as there is power).

The train debacle revealed that there are cultural and systemic issues. Among other things, this means that along the way, decisions were made and protocols were created that did not make sense or did not really work well. Could it have been Impatience at work?

So is it a case of Impatience breeding issues which we now want to impatiently resolve? Hmm....

Meanwhile back at home base, I see the effects of Impatience up close on a daily basis: these are known as the Raised Voice and Routine Arguments.

So my tone and volume goes up a little. No response. It goes up a little more.... and at times, this leads to the scenario where the unwashed dishes now become 'when are you going to be responsible' kind of talk which can become a cultural and systemic issue!

If I am not careful, my soul caves into anxiety and anger along with the impatience. The relationship then gets coloured by such episodes and the entire atmosphere at home can change.

This is the rot of Impatience.

We get so quick at sizing up situations, labeling them and judging them. But lives and loves take time.

In fact, each life and each relationship and each situation has its own timing for development and fruition.


Jesus asked us to consider the lilies of the field. He is not asking us to merely stop to smell the flowers or take a picture. He is calling us to be patient. The lilies' splendour and beauty come in their time.

Jesus says even the wisest and richest king could not arrange for such an array. Woe be the day we engineer everything to suit our time! The rot will be endemic then, and I shudder to consider the price we will pay for it in our homes and societies. The weak, the slow, the young and the old are typically the ones who will suffer most when we are impatient.

If we dare be honest, the impatient mode of life causes us to strive and cope rather than thrive.

We are a jangle of nerves. We are breathless. The core of our being is eaten up by the many demands and the rot of impatience gnaws away from the fringes inwards. We lose sight of why we are so busy and anxious, and don't have the time to find out.

When I sense the rot of Impatience, I have found that two things stop the infection.

First, holding my tongue.

Second, choosing trust.

These two are impossible to do unless I can go to God regularly and let my tongue roll, where the questions, concerns and anxieties are unloaded. It's a heart dump of sorts. Then I need to know my Scripture, for nothing secures trust like the Lord's eternal word. I let the words sink a little deeper, I pray them, I write them down, I sing them. So I can trust that although things may not seem to be the way I like them, I can continue to sow and wait for the harvest.

Then I see in my imagination, something like spring visiting a frozen heart, life coming back in, and hope arising:

I may text a reminder that ends with a funny gif.

I may focus on something good.

I may get creative instead of grumpy.

Sometimes, we are impatient with ourselves. We may get overly critical, push ourselves too hard, forget to rest properly. Then we will be less at peace and less useful.

It’s good to look at the lilies indeed. Because growth takes time. A life takes a lifetime. And we don't need the rot of Impatience to ruin it.

What triggers your impatience?

What builds your patience?


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