Patience = the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. I envy people with patience! I have very little – which can be a real challenge with little kids around.
It seems that I’ve lost my patience more often than normal this week. I recall a meeting at work which was far from productive – and I lost my patience, became irritated and unfortunately made it known that I did not want to be there. Not very professional. Today, a Sunday morning, I had zero patience with my kids as we scrambled to get ready for church. They were bickering and whining – if I heard someone yell “Mommy” from upstairs one more time! They were ignoring my direction – is it too much to expect them to pick up those crayons the first, second or even third time I ask?!
For me, I think my lack of patience is a result of my very, VERY strong introvert tendencies. Being around people can be very draining for me! And this is heightened if I feel challenged or tired or angry or stressed. In those moments I quickly reach a point where I have nothing left to give; then I snap! That is when you hear the scary “Mom” voice come out, or when I lose my cool and say something snide and sarcastic in a meeting.
When my 3-year-old loses her cool and begins to throw a tantrum, we calmly send her to her room. We tell her to take some breaths – we will talk when she calms down. For me, during those moments when all patience has drained, I sure wish I had someone that would send me to my room! What I wouldn’t give for quiet time to calm my heart, clear my thoughts and regain some control. Sometimes this does happen at home – my husband will see and send me away; take over as responsible parent. (I do the same for him if he needs it.) But sometimes it is not possible at home, and it is impossible at work – unless I choose to storm out of a meeting!
Am I a terrible person when I lose my patience and react in anger? After all, even Jesus lost his cool sometimes – remember the story when he stormed through the temple and drove out the money changers (Matthew 21:12)? To react in anger is apparently a human condition. How do I acquire patience? Maybe I need to focus more on what drives me to get angry, and how I resolve my anger when it happens. If anger is a result of love is that OK?
A lot of deep questions, and no real answers. The appropriate response certainly depends on the situation. Bottom line – all reactions must be made in love. Is my proposed response out of compassion and love for this human being, or is it because I’ve lost control and my humanness is getting in the way of loving as He loves?
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:9-12
Easy to understand the right response right now – I have this “me time” in front of a computer – Bible at my side – to reflect, find calm and regain patience. This is a luxury – I am not usually able to separate myself from a situation and consider if anger is an appropriate loving response or ponder how my anger can be reconciled. Adults do not get sent to their room! But I can close my eyes, take a breath, say a prayer to seek peace and guidance. When patience is gone, my reaction and how it will be perceived by those around me deserves that time!
“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9