Judging by my experience this morning, patience is no longer considered a virtue but is now a possible symptom of being a social oddity.
I was at my local shopping centre for the purpose of buying one item. It’s school holidays right now so I was in no rush. I spend the rest of my life rushing around, so why rush when I don’t have to?
This meant that when I stepped onto the travelator out of the car park area I wasn’t troubled by the fact that there was an elderly woman with a walker on the travelator ahead of me. Sure, I could have walked around her, but I didn’t bother.
In fact I didn’t even think much of it. A significant number of people walked past her on the left. The last person that walked past her turned and looked directly at me for a few seconds as though to check that I was OK. By the look on her face it was clear that she knew there was something wrong with me… deeply wrong.
At this point in time I started checking myself over:
Is my shirt on back to front?
Is there something stuck on me?
Am I wearing my underwear on the outside?
Have I sat on something that makes it look like I’ve wet my pants?
I’ll be the first to admit that I could be a social oddity, but this morning as far as I could see there was nothing visibly odd about me at all. I could only concoct one possible reason for the stare:
I was being patient and that was sure-as-heck weird.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not by any stretch of the imagination wanting to suggest to you in this post that I am the Queen of Patience. I did actually walk past someone else on another travelator this morning.
But I’m left wondering when it was that we decided always being rushed and stressed was a good idea. And when did we even go so far as to think that if you’re not rushed and stressed, you’re odd?
However, perhaps it wasn’t just that I was patient. I arrived at the base of the travelator the same time as a mother with her daughter. I paused and gestured ‘You first’. The woman with her daughter was kind enough to let me go first. The woman who looked at me as though I was a wacko was nearby when I gestured.
I wasn’t just a wacko who was patient.
I was a wacko who was patient and happy to let others get ahead of her.
Now I know of plenty of people who exhibit my wacko style of behaviour that have absolutely no affiliation with Christianity whatsoever. But for me, my motivation to care about other people and to be patient comes from the Bible.
When I was in High School there was a song called Jesus Freak that had some lyrics that went like this:
There was a man from the desert with naps in his head
The sand that he walked was also his bed
The words that he spoke made the people assume
There wasn’t too much left in the upper room
With skins on his back and hair on his face
They thought he was strange by the locusts he ate*
John the Baptist, referenced here, was weird because he had a diet of bugs and dressed himself with camel’s hair. That was ancient times. It appears that these days, all you need to do is be a little carefree on a travelator and you’re weird.
If patience and consideration for others aren’t virtues anymore, then what do we value?
Yours in freakdom,
*Lyrics from the song ‘Jesus Freak‘ from DC Talk’s 1995 album, “Jesus Freak“