Okay I hear that a lot. I get told I have plenty of patience. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m a middle school teacher or because I have a unique 4 year old. Either way, it got me thinking.
I don’t think I have a plethora of patience. In fact, I get annoyed, angry and irritated with the best of them.
I once had someone tell me I was the perfect parent for my son. That God knew I could handle it. (Insert laughter) It was very sweet, and perhaps even true. I do think he is the best, funniest, quirkiest kid ever. However, I’m biased. But was he born to me simply because I was blessed with patience? Because I could handle the tough moments?
You ever hear the saying that if you pray for patience that God gives you a situation that requires a NEED for patience. It’s a funny saying, but I can’t recall actually seeing that in the Bible.
And then there is the “God won’t give you more than you can handle” quote. If that were true, only good, strong people would be put in tough situations. And that doesn’t seem fair. If that were true, the blame falls on me when I feel overwhelmed, when I can’t handle it. Depression, loss, grief, become things we should be able to handle. Otherwise, are we not failing God? He thought we could “handle” it. This is simply not true. We are human, we have limits, we can be broken.
The other weekend, I was taking a nap. I had a slight fever and my husband offered to play with our son, X, and let me sleep. I was in and out, but I remember waking to hear them playing with Legos. X literally said the same line, “Can I put the block here” repeatedly for 30 plus times with only a slight variation. My husband replied calmly, tried to engage in actual conversation, and just played with him. We joke that he gets “stuck on repeat” sometimes. They played for two hours. Sometimes it’s precious, and for a moment I think, “Yes, we do have a lot of patience.”
Other times it’s annoying. Like when we are trying to load up into the car and I answer the same question over, and over, and over. And there are plenty more times when our response is where beauty shines through.
We are not patient because we are born that way.
We are not patient because we are excellent parents.
We are not patient because we are good people.
We are patient because we have learned to be.
We are patient because we love our child.
We are patient because we love our God.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
We get overwhelmed, frustrated, annoyed, and angry. There are times when it is too much. When our situation becomes too much for us to handle. That is our humanity.
That’s is when we need others.
That’s is when we need God.
That’s is when we need love.
Love is our calling to be more like God, more like Christ himself. Despite our situation. In comfort or hardship.
Love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control … These are what we hope to achieve. What we are continually striving for.
Patience isn’t so much a virtue, or gift, but rather a skill that must be learned and practiced. At its very best, it is a quality that reflects the very nature and heart of God himself.
But I swear… I wasn’t just born this way!