I was pushing the double wide cart, juggling my list and pen and had zero kids in tow. Because the pantry and fridge were bare, I was in the midst of the “buy one of everything in the store” grocery run. As I checked items off the list, I noticed an elderly couple ahead of me. With cart, purse and two people, they had managed to block the entire aisle. There was no way around them and I couldn’t turn around because they were parked directly in front of the cereal that I had to stock up on. I waited. The couple didn’t move. I bounced from foot to foot hoping the movement would get their attention. They didn’t even look up from the envelope that they were rifling through. At this point I was curious how long this conversation would last and decided to wait it out. Suddenly the man turned to select an item and noticed me. He asked, “Oh have you been waiting? Thank you for being patient with us. I appreciate it.” I didn’t expect him to thank me for giving him to time to do what he was doing. I was surprised by his appreciation of my patience.

Later that day, the girls were getting out of the van and Eve spilled the contents of her backpack. Items rolled out of the van onto the garage floor and then her water bottle disappeared under the van. I sighed heavily. While Eve shoved items into her backpack, Audrey waited in her seat. She didn’t push her way out of the van or nudge her sister to move along. She just waited. Eve turned to her and said, “Audrey, thank you for being patient with me.” Twice in one day, I heard someone thank another for being patient.

What is the difference between being patient and waiting? I wait all the time. I wait for the school bus to arrive. I wait for phone calls to be returned. I wait for kids to brush their teeth. Waiting is an integral part of my life and yet, I have observed that patiently waiting is very different from just waiting. Patience is so valued that people will thank you for it. Patience allows the other person the gifts of time and space. The elderly man was thanking me for not curtly saying, “Excuse me” while I reached around him to grab the cereal. Eve was thanking Audrey for not complicating her chaos by climbing over her. Patience puts the other person first. Patience values the needs of others over my needs. No wonder people thank you for it. Patience is a rare gift!

When I have been on mom duty for twelve hours and all that stands between me and some down time is teeth brushing, patience is not my first choice. However I have noticed plenty of other times during my day when I can patiently wait. I view patiently waiting as living out my belief that we are all created in the image of God. I want to honor God’s creations by giving them time and space, by putting them first. I fail more often than I succeed. However, patiently waiting challenges me to treat all as children of God. And I like giving gifts. While I patiently wait, I think, “This is my gift to you.” I acknowledge this is a work in process but it is one that I am enjoying.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.