This week, I was reading one of my favourite blogs, and a commenter pointed out that she, too, had prayed for patience, thinking it would be given to her as a gift, but finally realized that she was getting only opportunities to develop patience.
I never prayed for patience. Not because I didn't want five kids, but because I instinctively understood that praying for something was not likely to involve getting it directly, like a plate of brownies that you could then imbibe and have them cleave to your hips forever. Rather, as the commenter said, it was about getting the opportunity to develop it. I'd understood this principle on a deep level, but I don't think I could have put it into words until I read her story. After that, I not only really and truly understood why I'd never prayed for patience, but I also got smacked upside the face with a new revelation.
I have been praying to become a better writer!
And what have I got out of it so far? Not a direct increase in my writing ability, I can tell you that much. No, what I have been noticing lately are my weaknesses; my huge, glaring deficiencies! I see problems in my characterization, in my resolutions, in my pacing -- you name it, I probably can't do it. And now I've suddenly realized why I've been noticing these things lately; so that I can overcome them. Except I don't see that I'm making much progress, and I'm discouraged.
Apparently, the Lord gives us weaknesses so that we can be humble. I'm humble, all right. In fact, according to the number of weaknesses I've discovered in my life, I am probably in the running to become the most humble person on the face of the earth, a fact I'd be proud of, if it weren't so darn depressing. I am so humble that I'm seriously doubting whether I have any writing ability at all, only the desire. Maybe my real talent is simply grammar, and I'll never amount to anything except being able to proofread a manuscript (written by somebody else) and point out dangling participles. There are times when I'm that close to chucking it all in.
I keep telling myself that Rome wasn't built in a day. And when I was in 9th grade, I didn't even know what grammar was (although, in general, I used it correctly.) I've had years to learn and perfect it, and no doubt I can learn to overcome my writing weaknesses, too, with more time and lots more effort. Unfortunately, along with being humble, I'm also in the running to become the most impatient person on the face of the earth, and I want success now. Right now. Yesterday now!
I won't be praying for patience, though, as I already know where that will lead, but that raises the question, what do you think I should pray for to help me along and won't backfire on me?
Determination to keep at it, perhaps?