“Patience” is defined as the capacity to tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Whew. Angry? Upset? I can tolerate delay in most cases(no comments from any immediate family please), but without being a little grumpy? A little bleary eyed? That’s HARD. But, that’s also God. I could write a book on patience (well, lack of). Exhibit A: A car cuts me off at a four-way stop, and my hand is immediately doing things it shouldn’t (honking the horn, c’mon on guys!). B. We are seated at a restaurant and several minutes (I’m probably exaggerating), and no one has taken our drink order, and I’m looking every waitress in the eye as they walk by. Yes, I was that person-BUT- I have gotten better. C. Waiting on a return phone call…from a message left that day, and I call twice to see if they’ve seen my question. I really could go on. Sound familiar? These are all tiny tests of my (and maybe your) patience. Why is it so hard to wait? Why is it so hard to accept that others are not on my time schedule? Especially God.
For the last few days, I’ve had on my mind the word “patience” flashing in neon lights, blinding out any other thoughts when I’ve sat down to write another post. Maybe it’s because Christmas reminds me so much of being patient. As a kid, I was given one gift on Christmas Eve because I absolutely could NOT wait for the next day! Or, maybe it’s because when I’m finally out of this Winter, I will be able to say, “Oh man, this was so worth the wait, tears, and unanswered questions!” Sometimes I feel like waiting only intensifies my pain. But I have realized that much like Job, I have asked 16 whys and in response was given 59 whos (God). So here I am, because of the flashing neon sign, writing to you about being patient in Winter. We may not suffer like Job did, but we do ask why when trials seem to lurk on every corner making the waiting game that much harder and our hearts more bitter.
We know what patience means, but do you know how it FEELS? Do you know the bitter cold that trials bring us is amplified by our lack of patience? Sure, we can try warming up with covers of smiles, hugs, and conversations, but it never stays underneath those blankets of hiding for too long. This Holiday has been exceptionally different for me. While I love watching my son open his gifts, and see the pure excitement on his face, I can’t help but feel a little spot of loneliness. If things had gone to plan (mine), I’d have a new baby enjoying their first Christmas with their brother and loved ones. We all know things don’t go according to our plans. Our plans were formed with human minds that can’t see the future, that can’t see potential road blocks, that can’t see past our own desires and not the desires of God. The cold inside becomes a voice, the questions swarm, they build to a crescendo until all you want to do is shout “Lord, where are you?” “Have I not shown my faithfulness?” “Why not me?” “Why me?!”
And this is why, my friend, I believe patience is not perfect. Have you ever heard of someone having the patience of Job? Do you think Job never mourned? Never felt grief or questioned why God had his suffering in HIs divine plan? I do. He was human (although a model one), just like you and I. However, through his many trials and grief Job ultimately remained faithful, he never cursed God, even through his life’s storms. What if he hadn’t been steadfast in his faith? What if he, like so many of us, tried to solve his problems on his own? Or just tried to practice a little patience by telling himself “It will get better, give it time”? When we as humans living in a sinful world try to practice a perfect patience, it fails us. Every. Single. Time. Bitterness, resentment, and jealously begin to creep in while we wait for the desires of our hearts. Only with prayer, can we find the strength needed to truly allow God to fulfill His will in our lives, no matter how long that takes, or what the outcome may be. (All the while I’m typing this, the “sign” as it will be referred to hereafter is flashing “practice what you preach!”). I leave you with three helpful tips to practicing better patience.
I said patience isn’t perfect, not with our hands on the steering wheel. However, prayer and seeking God’s guidance and peace will lead direct your heart and make waiting a little more bearable. Here are a few verses I have found helpful:
“God, may I wait upon you in this season.” Ecclesiastes 7:8
“God, may I have humility, gentleness, and patience. Bearing with others in love.” Ephesians 4: 1-3
“God, renew my strength as I wait upon you.” Isaiah 40:31
**There is a really great freebie on Pinterest you can print out with many more!**
I love to write (obviously). Journaling is a common practice for counselors to use with patients who experience grief, anger, etc. If you’re angry with someone (yes, even God) for the circumstance that you’ve found yourself in, write them -or Him- a letter detailing your emotions. Of course, you won’t give it to them. Shred it up afterwards if it makes you feel better. As far as being angry with God, He already knows your thoughts and feelings, but expressing them through writing will help flush those maladaptive emotions that are normal for us to experience as we progress through the stages of grief. Or, keep a daily journal, chronicling your journey through struggle and how you’re slowly rising above your circumstances.
Connecting with others is another great way to feel strength and find patience in your season. You may feel alone in your journey of grief, but you aren’t. I find it helpful to reach out to women who have walked or are walking in my same shoes. Connecting with others allows us to dispel those thoughts and feelings that have welled up behind the dam of our hearts. Releasing those flood gates of emotion will help renew your soul, it will light your path while others hold your hand as you trudge on in knee-deep snow. I always find it so comforting to know that I have a group of ladies I can always call when I need to vent about someone who maybe said something a little insensitive, or when I feel misunderstood in my feelings. Connecting with others (and with God much in the same way), serves as a way of growing our patience. Doesn’t things always seem easier to bear when you have an outlet? When you have a bended ear and shoulder to help carry the weight of your trials? Yes!
I hope that you will have found some of this helpful. You and I may have completely different stories, but the ground rules are all the same. Christians believe in the good times and the bad. So, on this rough road ahead, believe…trust…pray…wait. Of course, I’m no professional, and my words should be taken with a grain of salt, but hopefully you readers will find a little thread to hold on to.
I’ll also be updating on my personal journey for any of you who would like to keep up. 🙂