Music played softly, bible in hand, and I settled into the comfy spot by the big bay window. Cocoa on my left, steam swirled and curled above it. A rise and fall of my chest, exhale of air and I gazed at the sun rays that bounced color and cast shadows over the mountain. Peace had fallen, (Insert record scratch) until the intrusive ring of my cell phone. One glance at the caller ID and my heart immediately dropped. Teeth clinched and eyes closed, I answered as I attempted to disguise, my disdain for the interruption. I knew better than to be optimistic for a quiet moment.
It was my son’s high school advisor. I may as well answer her calls by asking, “now what did he do?”
Relaxation to agitation in 3 seconds flat. Blood boiling and clinched fists derailed my attempt to count to 10 for lowering the temper.
Ashamedly, I admit that I failed to calm down before I heard the foot steps at the back door. I would love to tell you that I patiently sat him down and corrected his behavior. Unfortunately, the stories of my life rarely have gone so smooth. Blood remained boiling as I sternly unleashed the wrath of mom onto this 16yr olds constant, bad choices.
He said things, I yelled things, none of which should have crossed our mind, much less protruded out of our mouth. He ran out the door and it took every ounce of God’s grace that I had left to not turn the deadbolt behind him.
Out of motherly desperation, I fell to my knees and sobbed at my failure. Patience wasn’t thin, it had been depleted entirely. I suppose that happens when you revisit the same battle multiple times in a week over the course of 2+ years.
I sat on the floor, wrapped my arms around my legs and hid my face in my knees. “God, I can’t do this, I don’t have the patience,” I cried.
I was surprised by what I heard in reply, “because, patience isn’t enough.”
Insert your own story here of family, friends, spouses, co-workers, or neighbors that have tried your patience or ridden roller coasters on your last nerve. I thought self-control was my biggest hurdle, then God explained to me why relying on patience wasn’t enough.
God didn’t want me to just act in a patient manner, He desired that my heart soak in the truth and understand of all that being patient really encompasses.
1. In order to have patience, you must first have love.
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind. First and for most, I do love my son no matter what. But, the frail limitations of humanity make it easy for me to lose sight of that in the heat of being disobeyed for the 500th time. However, If I desire to be patient, I must first choose to love him more than I despise his actions. This takes a huge dose of grace and empowering from the Holy Spirit because I despise being disobeyed and disrespected. But, when the Holy Spirit reminds me that “…love covers a multitude of sins,” (1st Peter 4:8b) I remember that God is love and has covered my sins, so I can allow the same to be done through me.
2. Pride depletes patience.
1 Corinthians 13:4 (b) …it does not boast, it is not proud. When I react to my children’s repetitive disobedience or poor decisions, I’m reacting out of pride due to how it makes me look as a parent. I make his behavior about me, not about his own battles. “He disobeyed ME, what will his teacher think of ME, he doesn’t respect ME.” My focus needs to turn to his heart. Instead, I need to ask “what is HE missing, how might HE be hurting, how can I help HIM see the truth.”
Pride and self focus hijacks the chance to see what the source driving his poor decisions may be.
Proverbs 19:11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. I need to overlook the offense, the act of defiance, and with the wisdom God gives me, search the source of where he is hurt or lonely and why he is “reaching out” in a negative way. Only then can the behavior be modified. That is why the writer of Ecclesiastes 7:8 states, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”
3. Forgive and Forget. Let each circumstance be new.
1 Corinthians 13:5 It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
Through the eyes of my limited understanding, patience was just staying calm and not flying off the handle when I have to repeat the same rule or expectation for the 137th time in a week. Impossible to do. I failed repeatedly. But, when I see God’s truth, it’s clearly about not remembering the offenses before and holding them against him. If we keep count of the offenses of a friend or a family member or of a child then we will never grow in trust or relationship and certainly not patience.
Instead, when we truly release the hold of past offenses, not only are we forgiving the way God forgives us, but we aren’t weighing them down with the burden of past failures and they can find hope in change and growth.
Take the extra step! Forgive before they offend.
4. Measure the growth realistically.
I have one challenge here. Learn to measure a person’s growth, not by whether or not they make the same mistake again, but by the amount of time before they show repentance and turn it back around.
By doing this, I was surprised at how far my son has actually come. At one time it took weeks before he would even try to understand how he was wrong. Now, within the day and sometimes, within the hour. I find it much easier to be patient when I can celebrate growth.
Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
I’ve been there, occasionally still visit the insanity, but he hit the nail on the head when he used the word “expecting.”
Being patient requires that I let go of my expectations and accept people/life as it comes.