The Patience of Love
By: Kristin Rice
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.
– Psalms 31:9-10, 14-16
My mother tells me that when I was an infant, just a few months old, I would have night terrors. And she couldn’t comfort me in the midst of them. All she could do was take me out of my crib and put me on the floor to thrash it out so that I wouldn’t hurt myself in my crib. My arms would flail and I’d kick at the air to get it all out of me. When it seemed I was done, she’d pick me up and snuggle me back to sleep.
I guess I’ve always struggled to let other people comfort me when I’m in the thick of something disturbing my sense of being. It’s both the source of my power as a chaplain and pastor, and the source of my struggle that is very often feeling lonely, different, and unlovable.
It’s a fine line of being overwhelmed with loneliness and sadness while also being constantly amazed at the incredible power of people who have loved me through many, many seasons of loneliness and sadness. They continue to show me they are the hands of God because they love me when I can’t love myself. They remind me I am called to serve and called to love the world greatly, even when I can’t see it for myself. (Need a good song recommendation? Pentatonix “Love Me When I Don’t”.) They stand watch while I thrash out my despair and distress, and comfort me back into life. Even though I may feel lonely, I am not really ever alone. (Note to self: remember this, again, for next time.)
“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also…But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’” We trust in God’s promise lived out, that we belong and we are worthy of love, even when we are troubled and in distress. We trust God’s love to hold us and empower us into hope even when it feels hopeless. We can be God’s promise of love for one another, even if it means standing by and waiting until that love can be best received.
Goodness Gracious, God. Your mercy and love overwhelms me, and your patience with me is unceasing. Thank you for looking out for me and giving me courage and strength to work things out on my own. Thank you for picking me up and loving me into being, yet again. Amen.
Image Description: The background of the image is a chalkboard with a flower banner with the words: “We trust in God’s promise lived out, that we belong and we are worthy of love, even when we are troubled and in distress.” – Kristin Rice
Kristin Rice (she/hers) is an ordained pastor in the ELCA. She currently serves as the part-time community chaplain for the Attic Angel Community in Madison, Wisconsin. Kristin spends her non-ministry time with her fluffy overlord Blessing taking many weekend walks through dog parks and playing hours of fetch. Kristin also takes pride in the level of coffee snobbery she has curated over the years.