I’ve told my friends that looking back over my life so far, I really have only one regret. It’s that I wish I had a closer relationship with Jesus when I was the parent of young kids. My husband and I attended church fairly regularly. But I was wrapped up in childrearing worries and stresses and didn’t know how to turn all that over to God. I could’ve enjoyed many more hours of sleep had I not been such a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” person. I found myself, during a very long season of self-doubt about my parenting skills, constantly praying for patience. Literally praying every single night for about two years for patience. You see, I was so afraid of turning into my mother – screaming at my kids and losing control – that I thought patience was the answer. One Sunday, our pastor’s sermon was about praying. He said, “If you keep praying about the same problem over and over and over maybe it’s time to start praying for something different.” He had a knack for speaking on issues near and dear to me. So that night I stopped praying for patience and instead prayed for ways to help me deal with difficult situations.
As I’ve grown closer to Jesus, He has taught me a lot of lessons. He’s still teaching me. And step-by-step He has moved me closer to my original plea for patience. You see, I wasn’t ready to learn the hard stuff yet. He just wanted me to start turning to Him when I was in need, when I was broken. Patience may be a virtue but it is a heck of a hard thing to have and use regularly.
I first needed to learn what standing firm, standing safely in God’s arms even meant. I didn’t have the wisdom needed to grasp the joy in hearing that the Lord is coming near. I heard on a Joyce Meyer’s podcast this morning that God gives us a lot of leeway and grace when we first become Christians. But once we hear the Word and gain His wisdom, expectations change. We are expected to act as His children, not as children of this world. Think about that. Every time we attend church, do a Bible study, listen to a Christian podcast, see a Christian post on social media we are hearing His Word. We are learning the nature and expectations of God. And He expects us to live as He prescribes.
Wisdom that we glean from God yields patience. And when we are patient, that glorifies what we have learned from God. We cannot be steeped in the nature of God without also knowing and acting in patience. Why? Because patience means love. It means grace. It means forgiveness. Thank God He is patient with us. I never feel God rushes me to learn a lesson. In fact, my lesson in patience has taken about 26 years.
I looked up on-line “how to be patient.” I came across a website that focuses on self -improvement. Here’s their reasons why we should learn patience.
- We make better decisions by assessing situations rather than going in emotional and blind.
- We have less stress by understanding some things take longer than others.
- Our relationships are improved because we are more flexible and understanding.
Doesn’t that all sound like something God would want from us? Being wise, giving our stress up to God, and loving and being grace-filled toward others.
They then described a 6-step process for learning patience:
- Understand and counteract triggers
- Increase your self-confidence
- Put on your “positive glasses”
- Change your attitude – “why are you in such a hurry?”
- Visualize worst case scenarios
- Release tension and stress through eating right, exercise, enjoying activities
Now imaging trying to do all that without God. Here’s my Christian re-do of these six steps:
- Pray for God to reveal the areas where you struggle with patience (sometimes we pretend we aren’t being impatient and justify our actions)
John 16:24, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
- Recognize that God loves you. Accept He wants the very best for you.
John 16:27, “No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”
- Remember that joy can be found in trials. And most of all that God has delivered for you in the past. He is faithful.
2 Thes 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”
- Rejoice each and every day, if not every hour, for all the great things in your life.
Prov 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
- To be honest, visualizing worst case scenarios has been helpful to me. If I’m waiting in a long line at Costco and start getting impatient I think, “Well, what have I got to be impatient for anyways?” or “Well, if I’m late because of this line I can call ahead and let them know.”
Matt 6:27, “Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
- Yes, eat right, exercise, enjoy new and old activities. And pray. And pray. And pray. Give up all those thoughts, those worries, those fears, those negative emotions to God. Cry out to Jesus and ask Him to remove whatever negative thought you have right then.
1 Samuel 2:1, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.”
When we get closer to God – become fluent in His character – that is when He can work His ways in us. And God is always patient with us. My friend and I were having lunch today and she said she is starting to have more moments in her difficult life where she looks up and gives a little smile – recognizing those growth moments God has put in front of her. As for me, I described for her my process of writing and how I study the topic, pray, and then start writing. I rarely stop writing one of these posts until I am done. The words just come out of me onto the computer. My whole body is focused on getting these words down. I told her how weird it was that I was interrupted multiple times while writing this post. And as I drove home from lunch, I was listening to a praise song and it hit me. Patience. The topic of this post. And I had just been tested. I was not annoyed about the interruptions. I felt blessed hearing from a few friends. And normally I would’ve been distracted during lunch, thinking about what else I needed to write. I would’ve failed my friend who I need to support during this time in her life.
I called my friend from my car and said, “I just got it! Patience! I was tested!” And she said, “I realized that while you were telling me. And I’m glad it finally came to you.” Maybe this whole actually studying God’s Word really does work. Time to look up and smile.