I am always amazed at the patience of babies. They have so much to learn in the first year, and they experience so many dramatic and sometimes painful changes. From teething, to rapid growth, to learning to walk, babies change so much from birth to age one, and I have heard that the learning in that year is often the hardest we work to learn in our lives.
It takes them so long to learn something that we take for granted--like head control or rolling over. I watch my son as he is slowly working on lifting his head when he is on his stomach. Usually he hates being on his stomach (the dreaded tummy time!), and then one day, I put him on his stomach and he could hold his head up for a while. He still has a way to go, but I am amazed by how much he keeps going. He consistently gets better and better.
I am impatient when trying to learn something new. I expect quick mastery, and if that does not happen, I wonder whether maybe I am not cut out for the new skill after all.
Things take time. Change takes time. Growth takes time. One of my favorite metaphors for spiritual growth (and perhaps emotional maturity as well) is the peanut butter and jelly metaphor. Let's say you read your Bible every day and go to church every Sunday. A good chunk of this is probably things you won't specifically remember--not every sermon is memorable and not every time you open your Bible do you experience complete life change. This consistent Bible reading and church attendance are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because we need to eat, but we don't remember every peanut butter and jelly sandwich we eat.
Sometimes, though, you open your Bible during a season of life, and it is new and memorable. Sometimes there is a sermon that changes your perspective or your life. These are those meals that you never forget--maybe the first time you ate an expensive steak. However, you are just as nourished--if not more so--by the daily peanut butter and jelly.
Overcoming bitterness, learning a new language, fighting jealousy and anger. All of these things take time. You try and struggle every day. And then one day, you lift your head up and look around. And when it bobs back down, you pick it up again and keep going. One day you'll get there.