Waiting

Oh my gosh.

I could taste it.

They have the best ice cream in the world and soon I was going to be tearing into a couple scoops of it. It is one of my favorite things to do when I go the beach. I often end up with a headache, because of the amount of sugar that I ingest. But it is worth it every time.

It was that time of the day when my energy level drops and so I was craving something sweet.We were at the beach with some good friends of ours and this was going to be a good time. We drove separately because between the two families, there were ten of us.

When we arrived, I noticed that there was a large family ahead of us. By large, I mean there were two adults and about four or five kids. I could feel myself getting just a but irritable. Normally, the wait wouldn’t be too long, but since we happened to be there in the middle of the afternoon, there was only one person working behind the counter. A gentleman that looked to be about seventy. Actually, I think he was the owner.

He calmly took each kid’s order. One at a time. And carefully prepared their ice cream treats. As he gently handed the kids their treats they each responded with a polite Thank You. Okay, now it was time for him serve the adults that were with them.

What was probably only ten minutes, began to seem like an hour. It was then that I heard one of the women order a milkshake. Are you….? That meant another five minutes! Oh, and by the way, milkshakes at this parlor are hand spun—with care and precision. I can’t even remember what the next adult ordered because I was so irritable. I know, I am at the beach getting ice cream and I’m seeing red. Embarrassing.

Okay we were next. I would be a gentleman, or really just an average human being, and let my wife and two kids go first. I’d waited this long. It was the least I could do. But then…

Our friends, the family of six, stepped ahead of us. What? Wait a minute. I couldn’t believe it. To be clear, they had no idea. And more importantly, they are some of the kindest people on the planet. They really didn’t know.

I quickly did the math. So now there were nine—yes nine—people that were going to get their ice cream treats before me! At this point, I was simply hoping that when it came my time to order, that I could summon enough energy to drag myself to the counter and place my order.

Well, since you are reading this, you can probably infer that I survived. I even struck up a conversation with the owner while paying for the order. This whole ordeal, which probably only took about 25 minutes, forced me to reflect.

Why was I so impatient?

Why was I in a hurry and when did I become so self-centered?

I think I was impatient because I live in a society in which I am able to have most of my needs and wants met immediately. I am not used to waiting. And so when I have to, I don’t know what to do. Oftentimes, I will pull out my phone. That will often give me the shot of dopamine I need to temporarily sustain me.

And, I believe I was in a hurry because my needs wants weren’t being met right away. I wasn’t starving and it wasn’t as if anything was going to happen to me if I got my ice cream right away or within 25 minutes. Yet, on the inside I was a petulant little child.

When I finally sat down and began eating my ice cream—everything changed. I was happy and in a much better mood. It’s important to note that, as far as I can remember, I did not outwardly express my frustrations throughout the entire event.

But it made me stop and think.

What is wrong with waiting?

Next time I will watch the smiles on the kids’ faces as they enjoy their ice cream.

Next time I will notice, and appreciate, how calmly and kindly the owner remains—despite the fact that he was running the shop by himself and the line was almost out the door.

The next time I have to wait to for something I am going to make it a point to enjoy and appreciate the world around me instead of focusing so much on the world within me. At least I’m gonna try.

A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.

Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

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