Point of View: Steadfastness, faith key tools for personal change

By Nick Dean
Editor in Chief

Patience may be a virtue but it is not an easily attainable one, at least not for me.

In elementary school, the same comments were written in every report card to my mom: Nick is a great student, but he finishes his work fast so he can talk or do something else.

My mom has a report card for every six week period since the second grade stored away, all repeating these same truths — “Nick likes to talk,” “Nick finishes his work early and needs to take his time to make it the best it can be” or “Nick needs to learn to be patient.”

I wish I had started training myself out of that habit when the teachers began observing my fast-paced complacency. Instead, I embraced it.

I remember trying to be the first one done with the TAAS test in the fourth grade just because it was so boring and I knew I wouldn’t fail. Sure, I could have taken my time and gotten a better grade, but I didn’t see the point.

I’ve never liked the idea of something required hanging over my head. In high school, I finished my homework for one class while sitting in the class that followed so I wouldn’t have to worry about it at home that night. Yes, I made small mistakes here and there, but I still got a decent grade on the assignment and when I got home I had everything done for the next day.

This innate mentality that completing a task as fast as possible is more important than doing it to the best of my ability has followed me to college.

And in recent years, I have set out to retrain myself in the art of producing quality work.

Now, every time I see a “dumb mistake” on an assignment, I cringe a little and think to myself “One more look through and I would have seen that.” I have had to train myself to realize that the quality of my work is worth the extra time I have to put in.

Ironically, on my trek to a more patient me, I’ve regressed to my old ways several times.

Often in times of great stress or when my guard is down, I begin to rush through class assignments or projects at work.

I look for the path most traveled and sprint down it because I trick myself into believing that simply finishing something trumps the quality of the final product. This flaw, however, doesn’t only affect my schoolwork.

Unfortunately, it contradicts my faith. By that, I mean I often abandon the grace of God for a more easily understandable, secular means for attainment.

When I discovered my patience problem, I turned inward. I looked for ways to better myself, like taking extra time on projects and re-reading papers more times before the due date.

I never once thought about God’s help.

My one-dimensional view of God belittled his abilities. I lived as if I only needed God in times of great trouble — like when grief struck or hopelessness ensued — not when I needed a little adjustment to the amount of patience I had. In essence, I lived as if God’s help doesn’t exist for the “little things.” I was wrong.

Now, with years behind me, as I still continue to work on my patience issues (along with the slew of other flaws that confirm my humanity) I know where to turn. I have so much more to work on, so many more faults to recognize.

But after this long journey toward patience, from the critical report cards to the rushed class projects, I think I realized that my small goals for improvement are actually patient steps toward the final product: a quality Nick Dean.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1: 2-4 (ESV)

Nick Dean is a junior journalism and political science double major from Austin. He is the editor in chief of the Lariat.