This is the first post in a series I'm starting this month about love-- what it is and what it isn't. Stay tuned for the rest of the series!
Love is patient.
Patient: adjective pa·tient \ ˈpā-shənt \
1: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
2: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain
3: not hasty or impetuous
4: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity
I will freely admit that my patience often runs thinner than I'd like. When I'm stuck in stop-and-go traffic. When I'm waiting for the person in front of me in the check-out lane to load their groceries faster. In the middle of the 5-7 business days it takes to get a much-anticipated package. When I keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
Patience is hard.
But sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same (did I just quote The Fray? Yes, I believe I did!).
I appreciate it when other people are patient with me, but my first reaction when put in a situation that calls for patience is often instead one of impatience. Surely, that's not a fair standard to operate by.
WHAT PATIENCE LOOKS LIKE
Patience looks like enduring hardships without complaining about how hard they are to everyone around us. It looks like carrying our responsibilities, obligations, struggles, and difficulties with as much grace as we can muster-- not in a prideful way that communicates that we don't need any help, but in a way that says, "by God's grace, I can get through this with my head held high."
Patience looks like taking a deep breath before replying in anger or frustration when the people around you-- irate customers, annoying children, rude strangers, or people you know and love in their sporadic insensitive moments-- are driving you bananas. It doesn't help to fly off the handle (hopefully we all know that), but if we're not careful, that may be our knee-jerk reaction. Patience requires that we pause first to consider how we respond so we can be more kind.
Patience looks like waiting-- waiting for our dreams to become reality, waiting for our circumstances to change, waiting for that long-awaited day to come-- and making the most of the in-between time, trusting that God has a purpose for it and that it's not wasted time.
HOW TO GROW IN PATIENCE
Notice when you're being impatient. That's the first step in changing your behavior. Acknowledge your lack of patience when it arises so you know where you have room to grow (but give yourself grace; we all are works in progress!).
Pray for patience. There's a well-known phrase in certain Christian circles that says, "if you pray for patience, God will give you opportunities to exercise it." You may not directly be given buckets full of extra patience, but you will be given situations in which you can, by the grace of God, cultivate extra patience. And isn't that better anyway? Anything worth getting is worth the work. If we just got it without working for it, we wouldn't appreciate it as much.
Develop a habit of patience (I say as much to myself as I am to you, believe me!). If we were to decide right here and now to just take five seconds to breathe and consider how we respond, I think we would find ourselves exercising a far greater amount of patience, self-control, and compassion. Will you try it with me?
How do you grow patience? I'd love to hear from you in the comments here, or on my Facebook page!