Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Have you ever heard about the exercise where you remove the word "love" from this passage and replace it with your name? As in "Siobhan is patient, Siobhan is kind. Siobhan does not envy, Siobhan does not boast, Siobhan is not proud." This is an admirable devotion, and worth doing. The point of it, I think, is to make us realize how far we have to go if we are to love one another perfectly. Yep...that far.
I get as far as "Siobhan is patient," and I feel so overwhelmed that I usually stop. Patience is not my strong suit. In fact, I am really, really impatient. With so many things: waiting for water to boil, traffic lights, people who don't put on their shoes quickly enough (you know who you are). But I'm impatient with real stuff too, like the nine impossible months it takes for a baby to gestate. Why so long?! Or the years it takes to pay off a mortgage. I mean, why can't we just have infinite amounts of money and pay cash for the house? Wouldn't that be nicer all around?
Last week, my mom came to visit. We had a wonderful time. She and Hannah are great friends, and they did everything together. (The morning after Mom left, Hannah looked around and asked, "Where's Gwamma? Did she have to go home so Gwampa wouldn't be sad?") Mom's visit coincided with an especially intense period of potty training, and she remarked on her last night here that she felt like she'd spent the entire trip in the bathroom. Tell me about it! I feel like I've spent the last six weeks in the bathroom, somehow garnering enthusiasm for the littlest drips and drops in the plastic potty. And boy, has it tried my patience!
But I've been thinking, and realized that's a rotten attitude to have. After these weeks of learning have passed, this is going to make my life much easier. No washing and folding diapers (until June), no planning my laundry around the weather so that I can hang said diapers on the clothes line (until June), no endless unbuttoning of pants (until June). Isn't being happy that my child is learning a major life skill much easier to stomach than the results of diaper usage? Somehow, the surprising well of patience I discovered when Hannah was learning the ABC's or to put on her own shirt did not translate to this experience. But seriously, this is much more important that those.
On the other hand, if "love is patient" is a quality to which I aspire, I think it goes the other way, too. Because I love, I somehow, deep down inside, have the ability to be patient when it really counts (or at the very least, appear to be patient on the outside). I did sit in the bathroom for hours at a time. I did clap and cheer for every drip and drop. I did produce an appropriate amount of enthusiasm and perseverance to impress on Hannah the importance of this endeavor.
So while Hannah is learning about wet and dry, I think I've learned a lesson too. Maybe I can't take a 2000 year old piece of poetry that people read at their weddings and turn it into a platitude about potty training. "Siobhan is patient" is just not true most of the time. But "love is patient" is absolutely true. Love is the only reason I have any patience at all. It is love that allows any of this to happen. If I did not love Hannah, I wouldn't care about this potty business. If Gwamma did not love Hannah, she would not spend her vacation sitting in the Rubber Duck Bathroom, but would be doing something more enjoyable. So maybe it's not us at all...maybe it is, in fact, all about love.