I am confident that in nearly a decade of writing this blog this is the first post I’ve ever written on patience. Why? Don’t have it. Haven’t wanted it. I’ve told myself I don’t need it, because I knew if I prayed for patience the Lord would present me with endless, unwanted opportunities to practice it.
But hey, I’m not getting any younger, and God still has a lot of work of work to do in me. This morning I was doing a study in which the day’s focus was patience, and the Lord drew my attention to this new idea:
Impatience comes with the overwhelming urge that if I don’t take action I might explode.30 Days of Living Centered, Onsite
That’s a page right out of my life story. I started to reflect on what fuels my impatience:
- Being late.
- Not being obeyed by one of my kids after repeated requests.
- Not being understood when I am attempting to lead.
The list goes on. What I am seeing today for the first time is that my impatience is sinful because it’s all about my desire to control my world, my prideful sense of independence and expectation that things in this world should unfold according to my will, and even worse, my faulty response to those thoughts that the only thing for me to do is to act…now.
No wonder God is about done with my impatience. For the first time I see how completely incompatible it is to my relationship with him.
My next question in moments like this one is, “What does God have to say about patience,” other than “love is patient,” which time will likely reveal is the most important thing God has to say, but long ago I hardened my heart to that passage. I’ll give the Lord space to soften it, but in the meantime here are some verses I’ve overlooked before:
But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.Luke 8:15
I love God’s word, yet this passage suggests that if I truly embrace it my life will bear fruit in the form of patient endurance.
…endurance produces patience, and patience produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.Romans 5: 4-5
And patience produces hope, which contains my vision and trust in the fullness of God’s promises.
And finally (for this morning at least), the Bible repeatedly names patience as an attribute of God, one that I must invite the Spirit to cultivate in me as I seek to imitate Christ:
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.Romans 15:5
Where to begin after a lifetime in which impatience has been a hallmark, the very accelerant that propels me to get things done quickly, efficiently and relentlessly? Well, it begins here in confession with a seed of repentance.
And it follows with my willingness, with God’s help, to put into practice the antidote offered by this study:
Huh? Apparently when I feel impatient my focus is on what’s next, not the present. So the way to combat it is to slow down, breathe, and take a moment to become curious about what thoughts, feelings and expectations I’m holding onto. Here’s the process:
- Listen and breathe.
- Ask myself, “Will this matter in five years?”
- “Right size” the situation.
Following these steps creates space for God to enter into my next Tasmanian whirlwind and begin to teach me how to respond in love and grace, rather than in selfishness or in reaction to old, broken thoughts I’m still clinging to. While I already wish it were tomorrow so I could tell you how it’s going, for now, I’m going to stay in the present, breathe and thank God that this is not the end of my story.
For you need patience, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.Hebrews 10:36