By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Every year I impatiently wait for Christmas. I love Christmas, but I don’t like waiting. The season of Advent (which starts this year on Nov 30th) teaches us a lot about waiting, not just to remember Jesus’ first coming in Bethlehem, but also to wait patiently for Jesus’ second coming. Waiting in an age of instant gratification is hard. That is why Advent rarely ever gets commercialized.
Impatience is one of those areas where God has been nudging me lately. I am one of those people who like things to happen yesterday. We Hirds are go-getter people who love to see things completed. I am so often impatient with myself when writing a new book or newspaper article. In my sequel Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit, I speak about Titus who was a first-century go-getter. Titus reminds me of my father, Ted Hird, who always gets the job done. At one of my father’s retirements, his company, Microtel, gave him a statue of a horse in memory of my father’s billing the company for a dead horse. Working in Newfoundland for three months with the snowy roads sometimes impassible, my father hired a farmer’s horse to drag the telecommunications equipment up the hill. The microwave tower was finally finished, but the horse died. Titus-like leaders make things happen against impossible odds.
Hidden in our strengths are our greatest weaknesses. That is why we can’t see them, and often don’t want to change. Persevering people rarely want to admit their stubbornness, and their need to be more flexible. Administratively gifted people rarely see how painful they can be when they slip into micromanaging of others’ lives. We Tituses are great people to have around when you need a job done. But we can be painful to be around when our impatience causes us to be too pushy, too controlling, and too anxious.
I remember impatiently waiting for Christmas as a little child. I desperately wanted to see the Christmas presents waiting for me. So we talked our grandmother into going into my parents’ bedroom to show us where they were hidden. The famous passage 1 Corinthians 13, which is read at many weddings, reminds us that love is patient. True love waits. Waiting makes Christmas that much better. It is so hard to wait. It is so tempting to take the matter into our own hands and prematurely solve things. Recently doing my doctorate taught me that quick fixes fix nothing. Genuine lasting transformation takes time. Lasting change needs to be thoughtful and intentional. We all want to be better people, especially at Christmas. Becoming more Christlike however doesn’t happen overnight. We can’t just wake up on December 25th and suddenly become the most patient loving person on earth.
What motivates me to become more patient this Christmas is realizing that my impatience has often hurt other people whom I care for deeply. My wife has graciously chosen to forgive my impatience many times during our thirty-seven years of marriage. I want to be a more gentle and kind person especially to my wife. My impatience too often gets in the way of this desire. God keeps telling me to give my impatience back to Him, to put my impatience on the altar, to let go and let God. When I get out of the way, God often does things far beyond what I can ask or imagine. God is remarkably patient and kind in a way that most of us don’t fully get. Rather than pulling the plug on us when we are rebellious, God keeps on loving us, hoping that we will choose to return home. God wants us to come home for Christmas. God in a manger welcomes us home for Christmas. The Christ child is patiently waiting for us this Christmas. He really does love us beyond our wildest imagination.
My Advent/Christmas prayer for those reading this article is that we will all grow in Christlike patience and love.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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