I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We celebrated Christmas with just the family. We were all together under one roof. Our daughter Aly was home from college and our son, Nick, and his family moved here from Springfield, MO about 2 years ago so they were here. It was a blessing to have everyone together.
Lately I've been thinking about patience. My husband and I were in an express check-out at Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve. We had gone to a Wal-Mart in a different town thinking there would be less traffic and less of a crowd. We were right. With only one person ahead of us in line we made it to the cashier in record time for Christmas Eve. The cashier greeted us with a warm smile; we smiled back and asked how her day was. She told us of some rude customers she had earlier who hated Christmas and everything to do with the holiday. Her description resembled pages out of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”. Just a couple of weeks earlier I had been at the Wal-Mart here in our town and witnessed a man telling the cashier off. He was miffed and everyone in the general area knew it. The cashier was as calm and courteous as she could have been (I wanted to clobber him). I watched as he stared daggers at her, with an ugly menacing attitude. I had my purse ready to whack him if he came across that counter at her ( I might add I was in another line, but my purse would have reached him). What in the world is wrong with people? What has happened to common courtesy and caring about the welfare of another? How can waiting in line (which wasn't very long) reduce someone to such behavior?
We see a lack of patience every day. In the stores, on the highway, on our jobs, etc. It is said that patience is a virtue. What is a virtue? Webster defines virtue as 1: moral excellence; goodness; righteousness. 2:conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude. Obviously, a virtue doesn't just simply appear in our lives, it must be attained. I can feel myself getting preachy here and I don't want to do that. But I'm really tired of seeing how ill we can treat our fellow man. I often learn by life example or word pictures, maybe it's because I'm visual, most people are; hopefully this lesson from a dog will help you see what I am talking about.
We have a Border collie named SadieMae. She's a rescued dog from a Border Collie Rescue Group. She was about a year old when she came to us. Nothing was known about her history. She was found wondering the street in a small town in WV and was taken to a local shelter. When SadieMae came to our home she was a very untrained dog. The second day she was with us, she tore apart her kennel and wrecked our daughter’s room. When we walked into Aly’s room all we could do was stand in utter amazement. While surveying the destruction, my sweet husband called SadieMae a "demon" dog, that seemed to sum it up. I have to admit, I wondered what in the world we had gotten ourselves into. I took a deep breath and steeled myself for the battle that was going to take place. She obviously was an aggressive dog (not mean, but wanting things her way). I would have to teach and train her to be the dog I knew she could be. I have done it before and knew I could do it again. Meal time with Sadie was an adventure, she would not wait on her food, she didn't know how to sit, wait, heel, she wasn't housed trained, she jumped on us, nipped and herded the kids and everyone else. She was undisciplined in every way. Anyone who has trained a dog knows you accomplish training in steps. If you want to teach a dog to stay you first teach them to sit. After they have learned this step you teach them to stay. If you want them to learn to stay while lying down you have to teach them to sit, lie down then stay. Sadie loves her kibbles so starting with food was the best way to teach her to behave herself. After she had learned to sit and stay the next step was to teach her not to come into the kitchen. It wasn’t easy but she learned to stay out. I then taught her to sit and wait on her food. Even though it was sitting in front of her she could not eat until she was told she could have it. We then moved to heel, no bark (still is learning that one), the return, settle (no jumping). When she came to us, if she was handed a treat you had to count your fingers to make sure she didn't take one. Now she takes a treat with such gentleness, you wouldn't know she has teeth. She has become a well trained dog. When my daughter comes home from college she always comments on how well behaved SadieMae has become (remember this is the girl whose room was wrecked by Sadie), friends who come to visit comment on how much better behaved she is.
How does all this tie in? Conforming to a virtue such as patience is much like Sadie’s transformation from a "raw" untrained dog to a well behaved trained dog. It didn't happen overnight, it happened in steps and it took a lot of hard work on both our parts. She had to conform to obedience by making a choice to obey vs doing what she wanted. At first I could see the struggle in her but after a while it became second nature to her, and I could see in her the desire to please. Not only does she enjoy the benefits of that training but we enjoy it as well. There are things that happen daily in our lives to train us how to be patient. We can make the choice to let them train us or we can lash out like those I have seen in the past few weeks. When we learn patience and allow it to be a virtue in our lives we will enjoy its benefits and others will too. If you have ever been on the receiving end of someone's patience you know what I am talking about. I have heard people say they don’t pray for patience because trouble is sent their way. Hmmmm, how do we know we have patience if it isn’t put to the test? A test is usually given as we are learning, that test will show what areas are lacking and what areas are strong. I hope in this New Year we will make an effort to practice patience, to let it work in us until it becomes a virtue so when it is tested we will pass with flying colors. Our family, friends, co-workers and others will enjoy its benefit and so will we.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23
I am working on a item for a January give away. It is something I am sewing but painting too. I can't tell you what it is yet so you will have to practice some patience.