Traits of a Godly Person: Patience

Have you ever said a prayer, in a whispered rush, because you didn’t know what else to do; you had reached the end of your string and thought you would lose your mind or at least your cool?

“Lord! Please give me patience!”

What were you thinking?

I used to pray that prayer too, but then I realized something. Every single time I prayed for patience, things got oppressively worse. Why was that? I finally stopped praying for patience because I realized life, by its very chaotic nature, requires a camel’s hump worth of patience.

Image by  Wolfgang Inderwies  from  Pixabay

Since we looked at diligence last week, it seemed fitting to peer at patience as the two of them go hand in hand. Practice is an extension of diligence. If we want to learn a musical instrument or a language, we must diligently practice. In the same way, patience is required when we are trying to be diligent. We must be patient with ourselves. To think I will be able to play Beethoven after only a few hours of practice would be an error. Indeed, it might take a month, a year or a lifetime, to really master something, and that takes patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
— Galatians 5:22 (NASB)

The Bible tells us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. In order to fully grasp this idea we must look at what patience is not.

Patience is not getting my own way.

We might like to think that if everyone would just fall into line, my line, that all would be well and I would never have an impatient moment. How likely is that?

Image by  Dhamma Medicine  from  Pixabay

Image by Dhamma Medicine from Pixabay

As moms we know how hard it is to get the miniature people in our lives to fall into line, let alone the full sized ones. We are born with a desire to be individuals, and God is okay with that. He made us all uniquely different. God also created us with a desire to know Him. It is only in following Him, and getting into His line, that we will truly understand what patience is, and become partakers of it.

Patience is not being perfect.

How many of you have had thoughts like this, “If I was just more…..”? You can fill in the blank with words like pretty, skinny, smart, rich, sexy, outgoing, bold, and so on. Wouldn’t it be easy to be patient with ourselves and others if we were all perfect? Honestly, I think that would get a tad bit boring. Perhaps that is why God made us so differently; different colors, different languages, different approaches to life, different likes and dislikes. Perfect? No. Different? Yes.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Patience is not practiced.

This might seem counterintuitive, but think it through for a minute. You can practice the piano. A child can practice riding a bike or tying his shoes. A teenager can practice driving a car. The only way to really practice patience is by placing yourself in a situation that would require it and who it their right mind would want to do that?

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“Hey, I think I’ll go to my doctor’s appointment an extra two hours early, just so I can practice waiting.”

“I think I’ll get on the highway at rush hour, so I can practice not getting angry.”

“I need an extra dose of patience, so I’m going to have the dentist put crowns on all my teeth!”

I mean really. Who thinks that way?

What do we do about patience? We all know we need more of it, especially in our chaotic world. Politics, racial issues, religion, family life; everywhere we turn we need patience. How do we obtain more of it?

Since patience is a fruit of the Spirt it makes sense that in order to have it, we need to be in close contact with the One producing the fruit. As I have said other times in this Godly traits series, being in close contact with the Almighty is the only way to truly obtain all of these traits. These are Godly traits, or characteristics that He has. In order for us to have them, we need to be walking in fellowship with Him. Prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other believers, are all part of the formula for becoming a more Godly person.

In addition to that, here are a few real world things you can do, to help raise your patience level. I have found these most helpful when faced with those situations that make you want to scream, stomp and pull your hair out, or at least use a few very naughty words.

Take a deep breath.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Swimmers know that it is important to breathe. In addition to knowing the precise strokes, having strength, and practicing, knowing when and how to breathe is also important. When you are swimming through life and the waters get turbulent, remember how to breathe. Sometimes when I start to feel anxious I will take a deep breath in and then slowly blow it out. A simple practice could be the next time you are stuck in traffic, take a deep breath in and think about Jesus, a verse or a prayer. When you exhale, imagine you are blowing away the bad feelings, including those naughty words you were thinking in your head. Ha, ha.

Distract yourself.

Pixabay - smart phone/waiting

Having appointments, where you have to sit and wait are pretty common, especially as we age and have to spend more time at doctor’s offices. It is so much easier these days with our smart phones to play a game, get on Facebook or even listen to music, while we are waiting. It makes time go so much faster. The plus to this is, you can even listen to or read the Bible. There is really no reason to be impatient while you are waiting in our tech savvy society. However, do not use your phone to distract you while in a traffic jam! The results could be disastrous.

Think about others.

This attitude has often helped me in the retail business. When a customer gets cranky, I always try to remember they might be going through something difficult. They might be having their patience tried in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.

Image by  WikimediaImages  from  Pixabay

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Walk a mile in his moccasins.” I didn’t know until I looked it up that this actually originated with a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap (1838-1895), who was an American poet, Methodist Episcopal preacher, prohibitionist and suffragist. You can see more on her and the poem in full on the blog, James Wilson - Writing & Things. Here are the first three stanzas from the poem.

“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
— Mary T. Lathrap from Judge Softly

Trust Him.

If you read my faith post regularly, you will see a pattern. I always want to direct you back to our Creator. We know what it is like to be impatient, but there are times when life becomes so overwhelming we no longer feel the ability to wait for the Rescuer to come. These are the times I must choose to trust.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Bible, God’s inspired word says,

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

This is a promise and when life gets to much to bear we must claim it. Paul said he was confident about this. He knew that God was working to perfect us in Christ Jesus. All the waiting, the hair pulling and the struggles are for one purpose, to make us like Jesus. If we do not believe that, then it all seems for naught.

I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
— Job 42:2 (NASB)
Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.
— Jeremiah 14:22 (NASB)

If God can do all things and has done all things, won’t He most certainly give us the patience we need when life becomes a waiting game?




Life Under Construction

Summer in the Midwest can bring many things including heat, drought, brown grass and extreme quick weather changes. Often the weather men will predict hot sunny days and then a cool front will pass through with gusty winds and driving rain. Other times they predict rain and we get days and days of sun blistering the grass and causing plants to wilt. But there is one thing we can always depend on....orange barrels!

We have come to call this time of year, not summer, but orange barrel season. Here in Toledo, we have numerous, large, road construction projects going on at the same time. My husband and I have lamented over whose idea it is to do construction on all the north-south roads at the same time, or the east-west roads, or it seems, all the roads going anywhere. Currently there is a massive construction project going on just around the corner from where we live. Traffic is almost always backed up and no matter where we go, there are pesky orange barrels.

Sometimes it seems that our lives are as much like a construction zone, filled with annoying barrels, as those streets we drive on. When I look at the construction going on, especially when they are reconfiguring major on/off ramps and moving bridges, I am amazed that the engineers have a plan. For such a long time it looks like a big mess; moving dirt here, tearing up large pieces of concrete there, cranes, bulldozers, dump trucks, noise, noise, noise, noise, noise. Eventually it begins to looks like it makes sense. A pile of dirt turns into the foundation for the future ramp. Those large chunks of concrete disappear and are replaced with steel beams for a new bridge. After time, like a butterfly making it's way out of a cocoon, the new ramps are finished and paved with smooth black pavement and the bridge is securely in place able to hold it's own weight and that of a million moving cars.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I wonder just what the engineer of this life is all about. Life looks more like the chaos of broken pavement and piles of dirt than it does smooth, newly finished pavement. God doesn't have to ask me what my opinion is. He is the master engineer, after all. However, there are times, when I look at the brokenness of the world we live in, even the brokenness of my own life and I wonder, what is He doing? Then I start giving me opinion:

"Wouldn't that pile of dirt look better over there?"

"Shouldn't you use that broken concrete as part of the foundation for the bridge? We are into recycling, you know!"

"Don't you think you could get some quieter machinery to do the work?"

As if I could walk into the engineers meeting for the highway department and begin to tell them how to improve their roads and highways. I do not have an engineering degree and know absolutely nothing about building bridges, unless they are made of blocks or Legos. Why then, do I think I know how to run my life? I did not create life. God did. I did not form a planet out of nothing or breath life into dust. Only an almighty God can do that. So simply put, He knows better than I how to construct a life. Sometimes He may dig and tear. Sometimes He may grind and pound, but He knows what He is doing.

orange barrel
For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
— Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

He has it all figured out. Just like I trust those engineers to build a bridge that will not collapse the first time I drive over it, I also must trust God that He is doing what is best in my life and in the lives of those I love. I am not sure why this is so hard, but think about it. God is the one who gave those engineers the ability to design plans to build roads and overpasses and bridges. So if the same God who made men with minds that can create amazing things has a plan for my life, shouldn't I believe Him? Shouldn't I trust Him?

Whatever mess you might find yourself in, take a deep breath. He's got this and He's got you! He desires to give you a future and a hope. There will always be orange barrels, but I feel better knowing that He's got my life in His hands.