Patience. The dreaded P word in my life. Growing up, my mom would often say two things to me as a way of cultivating patience in her impatient daughter:
Patience is virtue and virtue is grace.
“Ailie remember one step at a time.
In so many ways, my mom is an incredibly patient woman. I think it’s one of her strengths and it adds to her great measure of faith. For me, patience is a lifelong journey of discovery. Impatience is one of my character flaws. I’m not naturally patient towards life; after all, I have places to go, people to see, things to do, words to say. I don’t have the patience or time to be sitting around breathing hot air. I suppose this is what frustrates me when life gets monotonous.
This week, my friend Stacy Hudson over at www.betterthannewlyweds.com and I were talking about our hearts’ desires to help our husbands with the family finances and managing of daily life. In our discussion, we began to ask each other, “What is patience? How do we practice patience”.
According to Merriam-Webster.com patience is defined as “able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people”. Yeah. Being patient with people is easier for me than waiting. In fact, I have decided that faith is the art of waiting.
When I look at the Bible, I see that God considers patience to be part of our culture of honor and love as ambassadors of Christ. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Our interactions with others need to be soaked in patience and humility.
God is on time
The more that I walk with God, the more I realize that my impatience is coming out of a place where I want God to fit into my time frames. God is the creator of time. Because he is eternal he is outside of time and we are inside of time. Thus, often our impatience arises when we want God to answer our prayers and expectations in our time frames. We easily forget that God is always on time and never late.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9
In those moments of feeling impatient, we can breathe and come into a place where our hearts settle in God’s Shalom Peace and say God I know that you are faithful; I trust that your timing is perfect. In this moment where things aren’t going as I hoped, planned, or expected, I am trusting you that you, God, are orchestrating divine appointments and favor with the people and companies you want me in. You are preparing me and them while I wait..
Open my heart before God
Another thing that we can do is to sit down with the Lord for a good heart exam:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23
Here, we can be vulnerable before God as he shows us the lies we are believing about him. For me personally, God shows me that my impatience is rooted in mistrust towards him and others. I don’t trust him to look after me and my family. Or, I don’t trust people to do what they said (usually because they don’t fulfill their word immediately. ha ha ha ha ha, oh dear.)
By coming to God with my heart, I allow him the room to remind me of His faithfulness which really is what I am questioning. As I have studied the Word of God, I have seen how God loves to honor his word. With God, what He says, He does. His name is his reputation. When God says, I am Faithful, he is not saying I am going to be faithful. No, he is telling us His character and nature is one of faithfulness. I can choose to either believe him or allow worry and anxiety to steal my joy.
Is God OK with my impatience?
God is not put off by our impatience, instead he uses it as an opportunity to draw us closer to him. He is able to pour his love and peace over us God loves us and our hearts. He enjoys helping us grow and mature in our walk with him and in life.
Marrying doing with patience
For many of us, myself included, being patient doesn’t mean abandoning the tasks that we have to do. For example, some of you may be taking steps to monetize your blogs or grow your business while others may be pursuing deeper relationships with others, their spouse, or children. Patience involves putting things in place or taking action while trusting that God is going to open the doors of blessing and bring in the fruits of your labor.
Take a deep breath and identify your need
When you are feeling impatient, practice some deep breathing. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. This will slow down your heart rate and lower your anxiety levels. A few deep breaths will help you relax as you ask God to show you what need you have that is not being met. Impatience arises when our needs aren’t being met and our fear of the unknown or worst case scenarios presents itself in our minds.
How can I meet my need
This is another practical self-awareness question. For example, if my need is for my children to pick up their toys then I may have to turn it into a game of who can pick up the toys the fastest or who can pick up the most toys. This is a practical way of meeting my own need which will reduce my anxiety.
Often, others can’t meet our needs for a variety of reasons. These become opportunities to lean into God. I can recall many times where I’ve been alone with the boys while my hubby is at work and the boys are in an uproar. At this point, I could feel myself almost disintegrating in helplessness. During these times, God sees me through with his grace and strength.
Fixating on a situation that is not coming right or a prayer that is not being answered will merely result in disappointment and further dismay. Focusing on how the situation isn’t turning around isn’t going to make it improve. On the contrary, we need to lift our eyes off our frustrating circumstances and onto God. We need to ask God to open our eyes to see what he is doing in our lives, what breakthroughs we are experiencing no matter their size.
For example, the blogger wanting to grow traffic may start focusing on how fantastic it is to get one subscriber per week (yay, thank you God. ) or the spouse wanting to improve their marriage may focus on seeing how their partner helps around the house or their strengths.
Measure your personal growth
Life is an adventure. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Usually those seasons of discomfort and impatience result in huge personal growth. Instead of focusing on how infuriating it is to not have a breakthrough, we can look at how we are growing as people. For me personally, I have found that this season of tight finances and being married to a spouse with different spiritual views has taught me so much about God, myself, my husband, life and so on. I am learning to forget the results and focus on the journey. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments. Still, I am finding that I have learned what not to do perhaps more than what to do.
Ask God to show you how you are growing as a person during this season.
I love hearing from you. Please share with me your tips on practicing patience and how God is growing you as a person.
Bolton, Jane. 2011. Four steps to developing patience. Psychology Today.
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