I’ve been thinking about patience a lot this week. Homeschooling a child with processing issues, listening to multiple narrations and trying to tune in to the emotional needs of a variety of ages and stages will do that to a person.
Of all virtues, I’m surprised to be most often commended for my patience, a quality of which I actually possess very little. By nature, I can be impatient, brooding, and have a tendency to want to fix the outcome of any situation. If any glimmer of patience is visible, it’s a patience from God that I could never manufacture on my own, despite years of effort.
In my early parenting years, I was thunderstruck by my lack of patience; I’d never had much of it to begin with, and here I was responsible for a few completely unpredictable creatures who depended upon me entirely - for everything. One sweet child was sensory defensive, like me – bothered by tags and seams and noise and chaos – and another was sensory-seeking; a dynamic, creative, singing, dancing, whirling, twirling bundle of energy and emotion that reached extremes. The mixture of these two was like oil and water, but louder.
I loved parenting and found it much more rewarding than my career in public relations, and yet, it required so much more of me. Among other things, like energy, endurance and the ability to do a lot of laundry, it required patience – that thing I didn’t have much of yet.
Somewhere along the line, I found a scripture I clung to, wrote out and posted on my cabinets, memorized, and even found printed on a mug that I bought and used daily.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
The way I saw it, this was a promise – a promise that if I walked with the Spirit of God and ask for His help, these things could be active in my life. I knew I needed them. Mornings started with teacup pressed to my forehead as I recited this verse and asked for patience, and I murmured it many times throughout the day, asking not for my patience, but for His.
I realized later that a funny thing happens when you ask God for something like patience – things take place that are sometimes not funny at all, but that do God’s work more fully than anything we could orchestrate.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
There was sickness and recovery; the addition of a delightful baby who grew into a toddler operating in search-and-destroy-mode, and there were autoimmune and food issues. There were three new children who joined our family, each with special needs (I’ve since determined that all children have special needs), and a few long, loud, adjustment processes. There were adolescent crises that kept us on our knees, homeschooling with a range of learning styles and needs, and through it all, God added His patience where mine waned. In the midst of it all, He also added incredible blessings, bountiful joys and gifts too numerous to list.
Daily, hourly, I still reach for that gift of patience, this week as I ponder how to best help a small person absorb and retain information. Looking into an earnest little face as he works to repeat information that’s been read, explained and repeated several times over, I remember the early days of parenting him, and know my patience is as vital as any curriculum. In those early days, any sign of displeasure or frustration in voice or facial expression caused a panicked anxiety, and he would shut down completely. It’s better now that he’s secure in his place with us, but my mood still sets the tone in a way that’s a bit alarming in its responsibility. So along with phone calls and searches for curriculum, I add to my list: keep praying for patience.And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. “
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Trusting in Him,