God really tested me the other day.
I was late in getting up; late in getting back from walking the dogs to the park, late in getting to the train station, and the train was late in arriving downtown Chicago.
In each of these situations, I responded with hurriedness. Since I was late in getting up, I walked the dogs as quickly as I could, tugging them harshly whenever they failed to keep pace. Since I was late in getting back from walking the dogs, I rushed out the door, worried about missing the train. I arrived at the train station with no time to spare, agitated and angry. And when I finally got off the train at Union Station in downtown Chicago, I ran in a panic to catch the next Brown Line.
My sense of hurriedness made me feel like I was in control: that if I rushed a little bit faster, I could change the reality of me being "late" to being that of "on time." Of course, that came with a cost: it wasn't even 8:10 in the morning, and my patience was already shot.
Therein lies the problem with hurriedness: When I feel "hurried," I am no longer attentive to my reality as it presents itself to me. In rushing to be "on time," I failed to notice that my dogs had stopped to sniff a beautiful flower. In rushing to leave, I failed to tell my wife that I loved her. Instead of using the time on the train to relax, I grew anxious and agitated. And as I ran to catch the Brown Line, I failed to notice the people around me, sometimes barging my way through the crowd or cutting them off in order to get ahead.
This is a test I face on every commute: How much do I try to control the pace of my travel? The more I try to assert control, the more I will see things and people as obstacles to be overcome. I will fail to show them compassion because I will only see them as the cause of my own suffering; I will be oblivious to theirs.
So now, when I pray the Lord's Prayer, when I get to the petition "lead us not into temptation" (or as it appears in Scripture, "do not subject me to the final test"), I ask God to give me the patience to be present, not in control.
After all, the desire to be in control just might be the greatest temptation.