Back in May, I wrote this post for the Homeschooling with Heart blog. I almost didn’t get it written, because a tornado hit our state, and we lost power for almost a week.
The first two days, my children kept asking when they’d be able to watch TV or use the computer again. I’ve made a point to limit their screen time, and because there was less availability and dependence on these things when I was raising my two adult children, having a device always on hand to entertain them just didn’t seem natural to me. Even so, my kids still went through a withdrawal of the screen time that they are allowed to have.
They began to wander outside frequently to entertain themselves and joined with some neighborhood children to build a shelter in the woods behind our house. I ended up having to coax them indoors for meals. They managed to find something to engage them that also created an opportunity for teamwork and socialization. It was almost a blessing in disguise.
Meanwhile, I was going through the withdrawal of having running water and access to information about what was going on, without phone or internet service. I attempted to model patience for my children, along with gratitude that our home was not damaged in the storm and none of us was injured, although it became more difficult to do as the week wore on.
My reflection on this experience is that you never know when a situation like this will happen. Many things are out of our control, and it is easier for you and your children to deal with when the virtue of patience has been developed. It is these moments when it is really put to the test that you begin to realize just what an important life skill it is and how much you are actually lacking it versus what you would normally give yourself credit for.
In my opinion, the real long-term benefit of learning to wait until later for what you want now is the ability to wait on God. It took many years of waiting and praying before I met my husband. It might be a spouse, a job, the birth of a child, or any number of things that you or your child needs to wait on God for.
One thing that I have found helpful for my own children is making it the default that they wait in public (at a sibling’s extracurricular activity; at the DMV) without devices to entertain them. If they’ve had practice stretching and developing those muscles during these short periods of waiting, I believe it will help them to be better prepared for the marathon when it inevitably comes.
My goals for the future are to be a better example of patient waiting in times of stress, to pray that God strengthens both my patience and that of my children, and to trust that He can do this work in us.
“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him by heaven.” – John 4:27
“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” – Luke 8:15