Lately I’ve been thinking about small beginnings, and I’m growing more comfortable with them. See, I have these desires to be complete and perfect. And though I know their shadowy sides, I do not necessarily think they are bad desires. In one respect I think they can even be quite holy: true desires for a true home. It’s just that they take time to develop.
I’m presently training as a chaplain at a local hospital. When I first started work, I wanted to know all that I needed to know. I wanted to have the answers to any and every question. And I put so much pressure on myself to instantly know everything about my job without going through the learning process.
One of my colleagues reminded me that I was still in this learning process, and essentially said to me, “We [the staff chaplains] don’t expect you to have it all right, Jeff. Remember that you’re still learning–and besides, mistakes are okay.”
When I first moved into my home in New Orleans, I wanted things to feel completely like, well, home. And it was only in retrospect a week ago that I became aware of how much pressure I had put on myself for this place to instantly feel like home. In the first month I wanted to have every thing just right and perfect–never mind the fact that feeling at home in a place also has a lot to do with knowing the place and the people, which takes time.
Here in the West we live in something of an instant society. Instant meals, instant music downloads, instant “friends.” I’m bombarded with do this now, read this now, hear this now, get this now, read this now messages. Don’t get me wrong: there are legitimate reasons for getting some things done now instead of later. It’s just that not everything can happen…now.
But then I read of the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in the field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
And I begin to settle back into the reality that things take time. Indeed, how God is developing His Kingdom both in the world and in me is taking time!
Man, I wanted to start work and be perfect. I wanted to move into my apartment and have this place immediately feel like home. But I’m slowly coming to see that good things take time to develop. Good things need sun, water, tending, time, good soil, more time, seasoning–and I don’t mean Creole seasoning–I mean the maturity and growth that comes from going through different seasons in life.
And as I begin to remember the reality that good things take time, I begin to settle back into a place of rest, not anxious striving, realizing afresh that small beginnings are okay.
After 7 years of living abroad that culminated with a Master’s of Divinity from Regent Seminary in Vancouver, Jeff Pate is now in training to be a chaplain at a hospital and is assistant pastor of Mosaic Church in New Orleans. The best thing about being single for Jeff: “I once read or heard somewhere that married couples can show the exclusive love of God, while singles can show the inclusive love of Christ. I love having the freedom (including the time) to share life with many different people. Right now, that’s especially the people at work and church.”
Photo credit: Adam Selwood