When I was a child, I learned of a concept called “The Fruits of the Spirit” in Sunday School. After the inevitable Fruit of the Loom jokes crafted by our well-developed eight-year-old comedic sensibilities had faded away, we would learn that these fruits were the following: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I always liked to equate these to actual fruits. Love, for instance, would be something sweet and juicy like a strawberry. Joy might be a pineapple. Peace would be a peach, faithfulness something confusing like a star fruit, gentleness a ripe pear. I’m not sure what kindness, goodness, or self-control would be, but there was one fruit I knew without a doubt.
Patience was the overripe honeydew melon leftover at the bottom of a fruit salad after the strawberries and pineapples were picked out. Patience is the fruit that no one ever wants under any circumstances ever because it is always a huge bummer.
I myself hate patience.
I want every single thing immediately. When I have to wait for Netflix to buffer, it is torture. The other day, my phone restarted after an update and I was fairly certain that the Earth had stopped spinning and time would never again move forward. I need everything to happen without delay and I need it pronto. I’m aware this isn’t a great character trait, but most of the time all it does is lead to irritation to those around me.
Sometimes, though, it can come back on me hard.
Last week, my wife and I went camping. This had been a trip planned for months. We had purchased all of the things you need for camping: sleeping bags, marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate… also some other things I’m sure. The biggest purchase had been a brand new shiny tent never taken out of its package.
When we arrived at the campground, though, the threat of rain was imminent. It began sprinkling as we headed towards our campsite.
“Why don’t we wait for the rain to pass?” my wife asked. She can be very sensible. She also has a strong dislike for sitting around in wet clothes. I’m not sure which of these were guiding her in this thought, but either way I was having none of it.
“No. I just want to get the tent set up. It’s not raining that hard.” And with that, we hopped out and hurriedly began setting up the tent. I hammered stakes, she did whatever it is that my wife does while I hammer stakes. It was probably mumbling about the rain, but I can’t be sure.
Then it happened. The rain began to pick up. Together, the two of us began assembling poles while cursing the fickleness of Mother Nature. She must have heard us because the rain picked up even harder. Then the hail came. Tiny pea size hail falling on us and our poor tent. We shouted and rushed about assembling poles and trying to survive the barrage of hard pellets trying their best to destroy us. Finally we finished and ran to the car.
It was less than five minutes later when the hail stopped. And the rain. Then the clouds disappeared and the sun was shining. If I had waited just a few more minutes, I would not have been there feeling tiny pieces of ice stuck in my hair slowly melting.
There are a handful of lessons contained in this story. First of all, hail makes it difficult to set up a tent. Secondly, setting up a tent can never be done as quickly as you think it will be.
Most important, though, is sometimes a bit of patience is necessary. Even though it seems terrible, sometimes you have to gobble up that terrible, stupid overripe melon of patience.
Especially when your wife suggests it. She’s usually right about these things.