By Marie Schrampfer, FC 17 Syracuse
“The word is patience.” That’s what one of the Bishop Foery kids has been telling me almost every day for the past couple weeks. “The word is patience.” She was standing at the door, knocking loudly and waiting not-so-patiently for someone to let her in. When I finally got there, we had a conversation about that little word “patience,” and now every time I open the door she reminds me: “the word is patience.”
She’s right. More right than she probably realizes. And sometimes, I think I need the reminder more than she does. The word is patience, and every day she tells me that, I realize yet again just what those eight little letters have come to mean to me.
Patience means working for seven months and not seeing any big changes, but still trying to find joy and contentment in the little, day-to-day moments. Like the time when the girl who doesn’t really like to read actually picked up a book to practice reading to one of the volunteers. Or when the boy suddenly realized he enjoyed his math homework, and began asking for a fraction worksheet every day so he could go on being the “Fraction King,” as we’ve started to call him. Or when that little guy ran up to me – absolutely beaming – and showed me the report card that he’s been working so hard to improve. None of those are big things, certainly not “seven months later” kinds of things. But they are good things. And isn’t that what patience is all about?
Patience means facing the daily grind, the mundane, the reality that even those little victories don’t happen every day. Some days really are a struggle – a struggle to work with kids that don’t respect me and a culture I don’t always understand. All I can do on those days is just keep going, and try to remind myself of those little joys I have witnessed, the tiniest of victories that show that there is a whole lot of good in store for us all one day. And isn’t that what patience is all about?
Patience means still trying to build relationships with those fifth graders that make the daily grind such a struggle. That one group that has been the biggest challenge from the beginning, the kids that rolled their eyes and cursed under their breath and sometimes just ignored me completely. But lately, it’s been a slightly different story. Lately, it’s been “Miss Marie, wanna play Trash? You didn’t wear your lucky bracelet today, did you?” It’s been talking basketball and waving to me from the side of the road when I drive by. They still might not like me. But maybe, just maybe, they don’t seem to hate me anymore. And isn’t that what patience is all about?
Patience means “being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).Things will be complete someday. But not yet. It’s a time we can only work and wait for. And isn’t that what patience is all about?
My little Bishop Foery kid was right: the word is patience. And seven months into my FrancisCorps experience, it’s a word I need to remember. It’s a word that reminds me to look for the little victories each and every day as I go about the routine that has become so familiar and is sometimes such a struggle. It’s a word that reminds me that God is at work, and that someday His work will be complete. It’s a word I need to remember.
I hope she keeps reminding me.