Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
1st Corinthians 13:4-8a
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
This week I made our weekly grocery store run for things we cannot get from online orders. As I went around with my cloth mask on wearing disposable gloves, I noticed a lady in the grocery store with her 3-year-old in her cart. The child asked for cookies. “O-o ee oos” to be exact. Her mother said no. The little girl began to cry loudly. The mother patiently said, "Now Missy, we’re halfway done, it won’t be long."
Later as fate would have it, I was in line behind her. We all had dots on the floor 6 feet apart. The line was long and snaked down several aisles. The same thing happened in that line, as the store made sure we were all tempted as it went down the candy aisle. However, this time the little girl kicked and screamed. The mother said, "There, there, Missy, only a few more minutes and then we’ll be done."
At the checkout counter, the child reached for the gum. When her mom said no, she began to scream louder than ever. The mother said patiently, "Missy, we’ll be through this checkout stand in five minutes and then we can go home, and both have a nice nap."
As she began to leave and go out to the parking lot, I decided to be kind and complimented the woman on her parenting. "I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Missy," I said.
The mother looked at me with puzzlement in her eyes and replied, "Thank you, but, my little girl is Hannah... my name is Missy."
The Bible continually calls on us as God’s people to be patient. Paul mentions it quite often in his letters, even declaring it as a fruit of the spirit.
Usually when we think of patience, we think of being patient towards others. Certainly, there are plenty of people who “try our patience.” And who require us to demonstrate great patience in living and working with them.
But I think more often than we would like to admit, we really struggle with patience towards ourselves. The woman in the grocery store reminded me of just that fact.
I have especially noticed my lack of patience in these days of social distancing. It is with others sometimes, but often it is with me. I plan to do things and do not get them done. Or I forget what I wandered in the kitchen for. Or…. well there are lots of things and I wouldn’t want to bore you, but after watching that mother I find I am doing the same thing--reminding to myself to remember to be patient.
Because what I also notice is that when I lose patience with myself, I end up taking it out on not just myself but also on others. These “others” are usually the ones I care about the most. I can become grumpy. I might even say things that are unkind. Simply put—I am not my best self.
Scripture tells us that we need to work on our patience. Because failure at patience keeps us from exhibiting love to God and the world. In fact, the first thing we are told about love is that it is patient. The good news of course is we do not have to try to walk through this or any of our other struggles alone. God promises to be with us in all our successes and failures, our joys and our sorrows. God promises to help us and is patient with us even when we fail to be patient with ourselves.
Friends, be patient with others. Be patient with yourself. Lean on God when you struggle with being patient. And remember when you fail God will patiently forgive you. That is indeed good news to remember.