They say that patience is a virtue. It very well may be, but it is not one that most of us possess. It is something that people pray for even though that alone is a clear sign we are not patient and want it now. As culture continues to move toward more speed and instant gratification, we will continue to struggle with this. Waiting on things can create tension that sometimes turns into frustration and maybe even anger.

Sometimes we are prepared to wait. We take our children to Disney World and the lines are long but had prepared our minds for the wait before we arrived. Even then we can find some frustration. The times that most often boil over in our lives are when things take longer than we expected. A good working definition of disappointment is unmet expectations. When things do not go as we expected we are disappointed.

This can be as minor as trying to make a quick trip to the grocery store that turns into a big ordeal or a problem in a relationship that we thought was a snag that has turned into a major conflict. What should have taken minutes or days has now turned into hours or months. Maybe we got sick and thought we would be over it in a few days only for the doctor to tell us this was going to be a long term treatment. When things take longer than expected it begins to take a toll on us. Some people get frustrated or angry while others get discouraged or depressed. There are reasons we get angry or discouraged. Here are a few of the reasons we struggle when things take longer than we expected.

We Feel We Have A Crisis
If it involves us, we feel it is the most important thing going on. When someone else is sick we find it easy to tell them that it will soon pass and that we will pray for them. When someone else’s marriage is in trouble we have exactly the right advice that will make things better. When it is us that is sick or struggling in a relationship, we feel like the world is going to come to an end. We feel like no one has ever experienced what we are experiencing. Our situation is different and we think that everyone should drop what they are doing to help us deal with our crisis. Our situation is probably not as dire as we think and it is highly unlikely others have not and are not going through exactly the same thing. But when our selfishness takes over we view ours as the worst and the longer it goes the bigger the crisis becomes in our minds.

We Cannot See The Entire Picture
We are not the only customer at the grocery store. We are not the only patient who is sick. We cannot always see what is going on behind the scenes; what the other people involved are dealing with in their own lives. More importantly from a spiritual perspective, we cannot see what God is trying to accomplish as He works all things together. We see our tiny little spot of the world and our limited situation. Recently in our business, we had items to ship for purchases customers had made. The customers were anxious to get their items. We had booked the freight in a timely manner with a national freight company. Occasionally, because we are in a rural area, it can take up to two days for the freight to be picked up. This time it took over a 1 week. The customers were upset with us because they felt we were not doing what we were supposed to do. We were upset with the freight company because we did not want to lose sales. Our freight broker was frustrated because he was providing a service from this company and the customer service reps at the freight company were confused as to why the terminal was not getting the freight picked up in a timely manner. All the while, the terminal was down two drivers and could not man all of their routes, but they were the only ones aware of that dilemma. Everyone had a small piece of the situation. Knowing one piece of information could have helped everyone else come to a different conclusion.

We Have Taken No One Else Into Account
We received bad service at a restaurant. They must be a terrible waitress or they have bad systems in the kitchen. Those are two common conclusions we come to in that situation. The reality is that the waitress may be struggling with a child who is sick at home and feels overwhelmingly guilty that she is at work and home caring for them. Between serving tables, she is stepping out back to call home to make sure the child is okay until she can get there and in the meantime, we finish our glass of water wondering where she may be. In our mind, she isn’t doing her job. In her mind, she has a more important job. What would happen if when we had bad service, instead of making assumptions we chose to engage that person and make sure they are doing well. Having concern for others will certainly change our perspective. It will also make delays a little more tolerable.

There is no way to avoid delays. Sometimes things will take longer than you expected. If we can understand that we are not the only ones involved and that others are working through situations themselves, we can manage the delays better and not get quite as frustrated. Delays will happen. How you handle it very well may affect the outcome.