Patience and Time
Spring training for major league baseball started last Friday, and it won’t be long before baseball diamonds across the country are filled with the satisfying sounds of people playing baseball. The Nationals beat the Astros in their first pre-season game, and they are gearing up to defend their 2019 World Series title. Manager Dave Martinez describes the mood of the team: “They’re fired up. They’re anxious.” Opening day is March 26.
They are not the only baseball players practicing their game. At playgrounds, in basements, and in backyards there is a brand-new crop of rookies filling the preschool scouting reports. All these will-be-great-someday-but-for-right-now-I’m-working-on-my-swing players got a tee-stand, a foam-covered bat, and some of those big soft squishy foam baseballs during the holidays, and they are hard at work on their skills.
First they balance the ball on the tee stand—right about eye level. Then they pick up that fat foam bat and give it a good swing. I’ve never seen any of them swing it gently; they mean to pelt that ball. About half the time they connect, and even before it quits rolling they are teeing up another ball and repeating the process. When the balls have all been hit, they round them up and start the whole sequence over again.
They can do that all afternoon, before and after their naps. And here’s the important thing: after a while their averages go up, until sometime in early spring when every swing connects. By the time the weather is nice, they’ll be asking for a real bat and ball, and maybe a batting helmet. Watching this process can be just as much fun as watching the pros.
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow— that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
I admire the patience and the stick-to-it spirit of those little ballplayers, and I admire those same qualities in the healthcare warriors I work with each day. I love how Tolstoy defines patience: “to keep going when the going is hard and slow.” Patience is one of our gifts. It happens in our hospitals every day as we collectively keep going. Our effectiveness—our capacity to become “powerful warriors”—is directly tied to the time we spend to keep on going, even though it may be hard and slow.
Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint”(KJV). Here’s a Mission Moment paraphrase of that text: “The Lord shall renew the strength of those who keep going when the going is hard and slow; they shall use their time to soar like eagles; even through long shifts they will not be weary; at the end of the day they will walk with confidence with the strength that God provides.”