Patience

What do you picture when you think of patience? Sometimes I see someone waiting serenely, not minding inconvenience.

That’s not an accurate view of patience. Proverbs 16:32 defines patience as controlling one’s temper. A patient person isn’t one who never gets irritated, but one who doesn’t let irritants control him or her.

Have you ever noticed that temper can flash? You don’t even have time to contemplate the possibility of patience, and you’ve already said something you regret. How can we be people of patience and avoid temper flairs?

Tommy climbed onto the counter to help himself to a cereal bowl. It was breakfast time, Tommy was hungry, and at 4 and ½, he was pretty determined to do it himself. Just has he began his descent, the bowl slipped and shattered on the tile below. His mother, hearing the crash, felt the rush of adrenaline rise out of her chest and flush her face. Instantly, every muscle in her body tensed, ready to deal with crisis. She rushed to the kitchen to find Tommy, half off the cabinet, his eyes wide.

She has two natural responses:

a) Yell at Tommy for climbing and breaking her bowl, tell him he shouldn’t do things he wasn’t capable of doing right, then throw together his breakfast.

b) Realize the rush of adrenaline was a natural response to fear caused by an unexpected crash, tell Tommy he scared her, help him clean up his mess, and then set him up with breakfast.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the second response to be our natural response? This has to be planned long before the crash. Tommy’s mom needs to have a perspective of life that allows for irritants to not overwhelm her. She has to walk slowly and hold possessions more loosely that people. Then she’ll notice Tommy first, and see that the incident already scared Tommy more than she ever could. She’ll be able to put her energies into helping him deal with the consequences. Tommy will be more open to discussing how to prevent future accidents. Patience, then, is a perspective on life, not a skill. Patience begins with perspective.

Lord, please give us Your perspective in life. Help us to see others and ourselves the way that You do. Help us to hold possessions and our expectations more loosely that people. Help us to be people of patience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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