Patience? What is patience, I ask. It’s a word that is very foreign to me, at least it is foreign in my temperament, and is seldom used in the vocabulary of anyone who is close to me, when describing me. When I examine the definition of the word patience, I find that I have major failures with each and every description that one of my favorite sources provides (Dictionary.com). Do I possess the willingness to suppress annoyance when confronted with delay? Mostly no, but maybe, just maybe once in a while. Do I have the ability to suppress annoyance when dealing with a situation that rankles me? No. Am I calm and stable in situations of trying circumstances? Now here I can waffle in my answer. My son will tell you that in super serious situations with grave circumstances I somehow have the ability to get “deadly calm” as he puts it, but he never ever saw that as a good thing!
So, patience is not one of my strong suits. Patience is simply not coded into the genes of my DNA. Do I want to exhibit patience? Yes, indeed I do. Yet most every time my patience is tried, I don’t seem to be able to rise to the occasion. In the past I’ve joked that I wish God would give me patience and I wish He would give it to me right now! God continually places me in situations where I am forced to wait for something that I want to bring about. I know that He’s trying to help me develop this very important character trait, and despite my yearnings to become a patient person, I simply don’t seem to be able to get there.
There’s a famous saying that goes like this: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” You simply cannot eat an elephant in one sitting, it’s too daunting, it’s too big. If eating an elephant is your goal (although I cannot imagine anyone actually wanting to eat an elephant), you need to do so incrementally, you have to approach the task in smaller pieces. You may ask, what does that have to do with patience? Well, it actually has everything to do with acquiring patience. One reference noted that building patience is more like building a muscle in your body. You cannot build muscle in one fell swoop, you must work and build it up in increments.
Knowing this, I can now put my corporate planning hat back on my head and perhaps I can approach building the elusive patience muscle by developing a plan. I must develop realistic expectations, avoid situations where I know that I will most likely lose my patience, employ the thought process that perhaps a delay could be a blessing in disguise, and see these occasions as a way to develop my problem solving skills.
I can even develop a timeline for implementation. Keeping in mind baby steps in building my patience muscle I can strive for specific achievements such as going one full 24-hour period without losing my patience (a huge feat for me), put off wanting things to come to me immediately, deliberately choose the longest line in the grocery store, take a few deep breaths (and perhaps count to 10) before I react negatively to a situation, and/or think before I speak. And, most importantly I need to remember all those times when I rushed in to “help” God, because I didn’t want to wait for His timing – all those times that I made things an even bigger mess, which in turn took even longer to get straightened out.
Who knows? Perhaps this method will work. I know this – it will take me looking towards God for His constant direction. God’s timing is alway perfect, so I see it as vital that I must develop the patience to wait on Him.
“But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7, ESV)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV)