For years, readers have been asking me to write a devotion about patience.
And I’d love to, I really would.
But—I don’t know what that is.
I hear some women possess it—some freaks of human nature who never had a child stick a pretzel up her nose or unwrap a whole box of pantiliners to use for doll diapers. Apparently “patience” means you don’t shoot fire out of your eyeballs when these things happen. Ha, right? Totally must be an urban legend because I’ve never met a lady like that.
So to write a devo on this patience thing, well, it’s just not in my wheelhouse. No can do.
Except. I do think I can tell you, from experience, what patience isn’t.
It’s not barking at your kids to get out the door on time because you’re running five minutes late yourself.
It’s not heaving an annoyed sigh every time your daughter has the audacity to ask for a cup of water—or a hug.
It’s not ripping your eyelashes out whenever the kiddos bicker over the same dang toy—or buying a second one just to save your own soul.
And it’s definitely not writing a mental grocery list while your precious child sounds out the word “tomorrow” in her early reader paperback for the fiftieth time, causing you to wish you’d homeschooled this year so you could’ve axed reading from the curriculum altogether.
That’s not patience. That’s normal life.
Sad, don’t you think?
I want more patience. Of course I do. But for the love of peace and sanity, ladies, don’t pray for it. That’s just begging God to give you more unexpected opportunities to practice.
You want patience, my child? I’ll help you get it. Here—have a week of the stomach flu. Barf bowls are one of my finest tools for helping you develop patience. Have fun! I love you!
So what’s a mom to do?
What I always do when I’m looking for answers.
Dig into the Word. And here’s what I found:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady” (Romans 5:3–4, TLB)
* * * * * * * *
“You need to keep on patiently doing God’s will if you want him to do for you all that he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36, TLB).
* * * * * * * *
“Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, TLB).
In the Bible, the word “patience” is often synonymous or coupled with the word “endurance.” We tend to think of “patience” as a gentle, passive state of mind but is it, really? Because to endure doesn’t mean just to wait but to act—to press on through challenges and pain, to not give up, to fight for the prize.
Therefore, it seems to me, patience is not something we can get.
It’s something we forge.
Little by little. Day by day. Hour by hour.
Think of it like fitness training. Don’t I wish I could just wake up one day with rippling abs. But no. If a gal wants to get in shape, she has to sweat. She has to crank out a few more reps each day until those flabby muscles gain elasticity and strength. She has to endure.
We have to endure.
What does that look like?
I think it’s a choice.
Minute by minute.
A choice not to roll our eyes but to look our children in the eyes—even as they’re begging for another marshmallow.
A choice to breathe deep and break up the sibling fight without spewing words more hurtful than the ones they just said to each other.
A choice to look at the kitchen mess after a long, exhausting day and opt not to bark or complain or fly away—but instead you will close your eyes for a moment, right there in the kitchen, and you will pray and thank God for these people who share your home and your heart and your personal space. You will ask Him to help you see them for what they are.
Is it easy? Absolutely not. Why do you think it took me five years to write about patience? I stink at it, personally. And yet—I so desperately want to love my family well. I want to honor God with the way I treat them. Patience—elusive, mysterious patience!—is at the very core of that desire. It’s high time I tackle it.
Will you join me?
I can’t promise I’ll do it perfectly, and I know you won’t, either. But perfection isn’t what we’re going for here. It never is. God’s grace will see us through our slip-ups. The goal is to put one foot in front of the other, respond differently today than you did yesterday, until after a week or a month or a year we’ll see we’ve developed a string of patient moments that soon define our character. And our kids will benefit.
And? Praise God, so will we.
“Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5, TLB).