It seems that the rearing of children calls for many strong and resilient traits of character, but probably none is so necessary as the patience of love. Talk to the parents of a confused and defiant teenager. Many of them could tell you a story that would simultaneously boil your blood and break your heart. The story has numerous variations, but the plot is essentially the same. A child is born, and in one of those beautiful mysteries of life, a father and mother fall instantaneously and forever in love with that baby. Joyfully, they take up the task of caring for him. They feed him when he’s hungry. The bathe him when he’s dirty. They hold him when he’s frightened. They watch over him when he’s sick. They laugh with him when he’s happy. So, the baby grows. He learns to walk and talk, to feed and bathe and dress himself. He starts to go to school, and the parents observe his progress with growing pride. He seems to be on a normal course of development.
Then one day something bad begins to happen. The parents are not sure just where and when it started, but a breech develops between them and their child. He has become increasingly independent, and that’s good. But more and more his independence takes the form of hostility and belligerence. He becomes increasingly rude and rebellious. The home is constantly filled with the tension of harsh words or unspoken resentment. The parents aren’t sure what to do. They try everything from persuasion to coercion, but nothing seems to work, and the breech grows wider and wider.
All they want is to love and be loved, and to see their boy grow into happy and useful manhood. But he has rejected their values, resented their participation, and closed them out of his life. They can’t stop loving him; so, what else can they do but hurt and hope and wait. Sometimes love waits because it has to; no other acceptable option is available.
Then there are other times when love waits because it chooses to. Think back to your own childhood. There were times when you went to your parents with urgent requests that were not immediately fulfilled. Your father said, “No, not now. You’re not ready for that yet.” At the time, you were terribly disappointed. You felt mistreated, misunderstood, possibly even unloved. But now you are older, and you can see it differently. Your father was not opposed to your happiness, but he was much more interested in your long-range well-being than he was your momentary pleasure. The thing that you wanted wasn’t bad; it was just untimely. You were getting ahead of yourself. You were wanting too much too soon; so, because your father loved you, he waited and made you do the same.
Part of the fulfillment of life, indeed, part of the happiness of life is wanting some things that we don’t get. And almost without exception, the things that we enjoy the most are those for which we wait the longest and work the hardest. So, we must not get impatient with life. We should not be discouraged by delays. Love is a waiting game.