Patience is no longer a common practice or need in much of our daily life. We can access nearly anything we want instantly online or have it delivered to our house within just a few days. And it’s tempting to bring this expectation to our growth and the change we want to see in others as well. But growth still takes time and we must once again learn the virtue of patience.
For instance, kids are constantly growing, but it’s hard to notice this from one day to the next. But the growth is evident after some time away.
And much of our growth also happens at this slow, almost unnoticeable, rate. We’re not the same man we were yesterday. But rarely is this significant enough to notice without time and perspective.
Perhaps we’re not much different from last week or even last year. But there’s likely a remarkable difference from the man we were ten years ago. To be sure, meaningful growth and transformation is often best evaluated over the course of a long game and not in the immediate day-to-day realities of our life.
Of course, this doesn’t mean there cannot be immediate and noticeable changes. However difficult, we can stop bad habits, destructive behaviors, and sin in short order relatively speaking. Our ongoing journey of being transformed into the image of Christ does not stop our immediate call to repentance. All the same, we only frustrate ourselves when we expect all our heart attitudes to change overnight.
Remembering growth takes time allows us to extend grace to ourselves and each other. It’s not an excuse to continue sinning, but it does free us from the expectation and demand of instant maturity.
In the end, practice the patience that growth requires. Things are often still moving, however slow and seemingly unnoticeable, in our daily lives, and time and perspective are needed to judge our progress accurately.