Be “Patient” as you read this Shocking Musing 4/6/2022
So I will shock many of you here in this week’s musing. I know that some of you will be unsure what to do with what I am about to share, and others may struggle even to believe what I share is true. But sometimes, it is best to come clean and admit even the hard things to God and one another. And while I know most of you will be shocked, the truth I must share is this - I am not the perfect husband.
I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
And perhaps near the top of my albeit small list of imperfections (including perhaps a lack of humility) is that I sometimes lack patience. It’s not just that I lack it. It’s that there are moments I have absolutely none of it whatsoever!
A rather specific example of this lack of patience occurs anytime we go to an event with a designated arrival time.
You see, I do not understand the concept of being fashionably late.
Either you are early (which for me means on time), or you are late.
Thus when I know we need to be somewhere, I am ready early. I have picked out my clothes early - usually the night before. I am showered and ready, and when everyone else isn’t, I begin losing patience.
Now I know I need to is an area I need to work on.
I’ve tried deep breathing and meditation to relax as I wait and wait. I end up simply understanding even more deeply and with more air in my lung, just how late we are running.
As I wait, I begin doing math in my head. I start to think how many minutes we have left until we need to leave to just be “on time.”
This imaginary self-imposed pressure builds up in my mind.
So when my spouse asks which dress I like or if I like the black or navy flats better, or if I have an opinion on earrings, I do not always answer her with kindness.
When asked if I thought the love of my life looked ok, I have often responded yes without looking as I stood up, car keys in hand.
Someday she may be standing in flannel PJs as I say she looks great for a fancy wedding, but we are still not behind in leaving to go to.
Of course, my lack of patience isn’t just in waiting for my wife.
I also hate waiting in lines.
For me, check-out lines are the worst! I get impatient and wander off - I mean, no reason for all of us standing there waiting.
Eventually, they end up waiting for me as they have checked out and gone to the car and have to call me from their cell phone to say it’s time to go!
I doubt I am the only one who suffers this affliction. I know folks who, in their prayers, pray God will give them patience and give it immediately!
The Bible often talks about patience. In both the Old and New Testament texts, you find numerous references to being patient both as individuals and as a people of faith. The writers of scripture often remind us that one of God’s greatest attributes is God’s patience towards humanity.
In 1st Corinthians 13:4, Paul tells us that when we love someone or something, we must be patient. It is his first descriptor of love – He says rather bluntly that love is patient. Not that love is tolerant to a point, but that it is patient. That adds some pressure on those of us who struggle with forbearance.
Max Lucado, in his book A Love Worth Giving, notes that “The Greek word used here (1 Cor. 13:4) for patience is a descriptive one. It figuratively means “taking a long time to boil.” Think about a pot of boiling water. What factors determine the speed at which it boils? The size of the stove? No. The pot? The utensil may have an influence, but the primary factor is the intensity of the flame. Water boils quickly when the flame is high. It boils slowly when the flame is low. Patience ‘keeps the burner down.”
Thus the key to patience is not found in yelling at someone to hurry up or stomping loudly, or rattling keys. Truthfully, I would advise against all of those. Instead, it is remembering that God is overly patient with each of us, and as those who claim to be followers of God and disciples of Jesus Christ who showed us a life of patience, we should strive to live and act likewise.
Sometimes it isn't easy, and for me, it means reminding myself that is all I can control is the flame.
There is a supposedly true story about continually reminding ourselves when life is stressful of the need to lean into all the skills we possess to show patience. And while it is important to do this for everyone, I think it is especially important to do this with those we love.
The story goes that a man stopped in the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up a couple of items for his wife. He wandered around aimlessly for a while, searching out the needed groceries. As is often the case in the grocery store, he kept passing the same shopper in almost every aisle. Another father was trying to shop with a totally uncooperative three-year-old boy in the cart.
The first time they passed, the three-year-old was asking over and over for a candy bar. Our observer couldn’t hear the entire conversation. He just heard Dad say, “Now, Billy, this won’t take long.” As they passed in the next aisle, the three-year-old’s pleas had increased several octaves. Now, Dad was quietly saying, “Billy, just calm down. We will be done in a minute.”
When they passed near the dairy case, the kid was screaming uncontrollably. Dad was still keeping his cool. In a very low voice, he was saying, “Billy, settle down. We are almost out of here.” The Dad and his son reached the check-out counter just ahead of our observer. He still gave no evidence of losing control. The boy was screaming and kicking. Dad was very calming, saying over and over, “Billy, we will be in the car in just a minute, and then everything will be OK.”
The bystander was impressed beyond words. After paying for his groceries, he hurried to catch up with this amazing example of patience and self-control just in time to hear him say again, “Billy, we’re done. It’s going to be OK.” He tapped the patient father on the shoulder and said, “Sir, I couldn’t help but watch how you handled little Billy. You were amazing.” Dad replied, “You don’t get it, do you?” I’m Billy!”
May we each remind ourselves to be patient with others and with ourselves as we remember and give thanks for God’s patience towards us.
Have a great week.