Friday, July 6, 2012

Delays Can Be a Good Thing!

Many times, we find ourselves in situations where life really tries our patience.  Standing in long lines, driving in slow traffic, getting hung up at work, and so on.  Most of us get really frustrated and may even make a comment or two.  Some will get irate and try to move things along a little faster.  Patience is a virtue; I just wish we didn’t have to practice it so much.

We never know why we’re being delayed.  A good example is something that happened to me many years ago.  I was getting ready to leave work and at the last minute, I had to stay about 15 minutes extra. On the way home, I decided to stop and get my car washed. Then I hit every light through town.  As I got half-way up the mountain, a police officer had traffic stopped and it was going to be awhile. There had been an accident up a ways and they were turning people around. I had to drive for miles on an unfamiliar back road to take the detour back home.  What I found out later was the accident was just near where I turned off to go home and that a three year old child had been killed. The accident happened about the exact same time that I would have been going around that curve. Now, did the delay save my life? Did it keep me from seeing something really horrible? I don't know how I could have dealt with seeing the death of a child (or anyone). Or blood. Or someone's life ripped apart.

What I learned from this is that I now never question delays or get upset when they occur.  Sure, I can still get really antsy if it’s going to cause me to be late, but I try to breathe deep relaxing breathes and remember that the delay may be saving me from something horrible.  On the other hand, the delay could be occurring so that I can meet up with something or someone really wonderful!

How many get irritated if they have to pull over for a long funeral procession?   At least it’s not you or a loved in the casket.  Stopped by an accident?  Again, it’s not you or a loved one in the accident.  We heard countless stories of 9/11 where people were delayed getting to work that morning and their lives were spared because of the delay.  When you’re delayed, count your blessings!

We can make the choice to get really upset and make our life miserable as well as everyone around us, or we can make the best of it.  Catch up on phone calls, read, sing, dance; whatever you have to do to get through it.  Or you can do what motivational speaker/comedian Loretta LaRoche did when she found herself stranded on an airplane which had been delayed on the tarmac.  Everyone was getting upset and tempers were flaring.  What did she do?  She started singing out loud, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands…!”  Next thing she knew everyone on the plane was singing with her and they had a great time until the plane was able to take off.  (To be honest, she had a lot more guts than I would have had.  Or maybe not.)

Sometimes when I find myself getting frustrated in a situation, I compare it with something really horrible that could be happening to me instead.  It snaps me out of it and I appreciate that it’s just a small inconvenience.  If you time the delays, they’re really not that long; maybe a few minutes (unless it really is a long delay).  It just seems longer when you’re waiting.

No matter where we go or what we do, we'll always have to wait. Besides, my attitude is that it's not cancer, it's not war, I have my health, I live in the wonderful country of America...what's waiting a few minutes?  On occasion, I've told people in line this, and they were amazed at my attitude! It also really helps the clerk who is trying to do the best s/he can.

The next time you find yourself being delayed for whatever reason, try to trust and believe that there is a bigger picture. Bless the moment.  And be grateful that it’s only a small burp on this journey called life.

I will leave you with a few quotes on patience…  St. Augustine: “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”  Muhammad: “Wisdom and power follow endurance and patience.” And, Sir William Osler:  “What is patience but an equanimity which enables you to rise superior to the trials of life.”

(Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 6, 2012.)

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