In my Catholic grade school, we played what was known simply as “The Religion Game.” Short explanation: it involved a person guessing a religious terms using clues provided by teammates. One of the vocabulary terms committed to memory was ejaculation.
Ejaculation: a short prayer meant to be memorized and repeated throughout the day
In those pre-pubescent days, before its utterance would elicit a round of giggles and snickers, this five-syllable word had the potential to propel a team into the winner’s circle. In the ensuing years, the use of these little prayers fell by the wayside.
As our family has grown over the past dozen years and my prayer life has become fractured and disjointed, I’ve come to rely more heavily on these spontaneous aspirations. It usually involves me begging for one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Give me courage.
Give me wisdom.
Or most frequently, while gritting my teeth to keep from biting the head off of one of the small children in my midst, begging for one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
Lord, Give me patience.
It’s seemed, at times, that motherhood was one unending lesson in patience. My struggles, however, were mainly short-term needs for patience. Get me through until dinnertime. Help me hold my tongue for this moment.
It’s only fairly recently that I’ve discovered my need for a different kind of patience. The long-term kind that requires endurance. (“Patience” is derive from the Latin patio – to endure. See? Still using that Latin degree.)
I’ve acquired a whole new appreciation for patience since I’ve begun writing fiction in earnest. Patience in completing a manuscript, learning the craft of writing, finding beta readers, critiquing, editing, editing, and editing again.
While I’ve waited for one of my novels to move from scribbled notes on scraps of paper to published book, I’ve watched dozens of authors zoom past, spitting out manuscripts and e-books at a pace that far eclipsed mine. In my weak moments, I feel a flash of envy. Yet I’ve observed over the past year how critical patience is and how valuable time is in perfecting, maturing, and solidifying if only I have the patience to allow things to come to fruition in God’s perfect time. Writing something worth reading takes time.
We had the opportunity to tour a local winery/brewery last month, and the words of our guide stuck with me. He said that in the beginning they made every mistake in the book. But the managers worked part-time, on holidays, and on weekends for five years without pay. (Almost exactly the amount of time it will be from the time I started my first novel until I (God-willing) earn a penny for it.)
Like the fermenting and brewing processes, many things in life simply take time if they are to be done right or accomplished well.
Our slap-dash efforts and our hurry-up mindsets may satisfy our Internet-age/post-sexual revolution desires for instant gratification, but they may not produce our best efforts.
I still utter Lord, give me patience, but now it’s not just when a child is thrashing me with his legs or the phone is ringing, the timer is buzzing, and the clothes dryer is beeping. It’s also when I confess the same sins for the hundredth time or I see couples half our age scoop up homes double the size of ours. Or while I learn all the ins and outs of what it might take to not only write a book worth reading but put it in the hands of those who might enjoy it.
Too often, I expect God to fill the desires of my heart in a snap of my fingers or the time it takes to say a novena, yet the Israelites roamed the desert for generations, waiting for their Messiah.
In the big things or in the little things, I still find that simple ejaculation a perfect prayer, Give me patience.
For what need do you often beg for help? Is it for the short-term or the long-haul?