It was one of those days when things go wrong.
I scheduled my chiropractor appointment as late as possible – but my chiropractor has moved to Tin-buk-tu, and it takes a looong time to get there, even without traffic.
On this day, my bus was 20 minutes late getting me home, then my gas gauge read empty. Next, the road to my chiropractor was a complete parking lot.
Finally I called him in defeat. “I’m on my way…I have no idea how long it will take, but I’m on my way.”
I felt so frustrated. Friday night, the beginning of my chiropractor’s vacation, and he’s waiting on me.
Then my 9 year old pipes up. “Mom, you need to be patient.”
“HUH?” On what planet did this child originate? Where did this person come from? And WHY is she talking to me?” Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.
“Apparently you learned something at camp this week?”
“Yes, and you are NOT being patient.”
Well, that about summed it up. She was right. My fuming wasn’t helping anyone. It wasn’t going to change my situation. It wasn’t going to help anyone. It was only going to make a difficult situation worse.
We have all been in these frustrating situations. Sometimes they aren’t so easy as a late appointment. Sometimes they seem a lot more dire. But whatever the situation, here is something that can help us when we need patience:
Perspective – change your perspective. Just like I wasn’t going to help myself or anyone else by wishing I wasn’t in this situation, most of the situations that send our blood pressure through the roof just aren’t worth the stress. I’m not God and neither are you, and most of these situations won’t change the course of the universe. So, gaining perspective can help us reduce our stress and get a grasp on that elusive calm that we need.
Acknowledge your fears – Let’s just get it out there. Most of the time, we stress out because of elusive fears. What are you really afraid is going to happen? When I was an apartment manager, I discovered that most people hate to talk to people they owe money to. I had one woman who either had her purse stolen or her apartment ‘robbed’ every single month. She was really stressing herself out because she didn’t want to face me with the truth – she didn’t have the money by the 5th. Every month, she got a pay-up or die notice from me, and every month she paid her rent, but every month, we had to have the extra drama because she didn’t face her fears.
On my little jaunt to the chiropractor, I was afraid that I was making the trip for naught, and that he would give up on me – or that I was putting a breach in our friendship. Once I admitted that this was the source of my stress, I was able to realize that this was unrealistic – my chiropractor knows that I’ve only been on time about 12 times in 13 years, so I am sure he has already planned two clients in the middle. Once I faced my fears, I was able to self-talk and realize that I was adding stress to the situation that was unnecessary.
Thankfulness – Practice thankfulness. Really, this helps with a lot of things, but when you need to be patient, whether you are waiting on someone else or on yourself, practicing thankfulness is one of the most helpful tools.
- Thankfulness helps you remember all the times things have turned out well.
- Thankfulness helps you find the positive in your current situation.
- Thankfulness gives you something to look at besides yourself and your own wants and desires.
Initiate Project Redirection – admittedly, there are definite benefits to being attention challenged. One of these is a firm understanding that obsession is in the eye of the beholder.
Try this one on for size:
Think about your biggest stress. Something that really makes you lose your cool.
Now, in your mind, watch a paraglider float down out of the sky. The parachute is soft and fluffy against the blue sky. The glider is so in control and light as they steer the chute toward an open field. They look so free. Wow! Isn’t that cool?
LOOK! There’s a paraglider!
Okay – those of you who are also attention challenged really got that, and are probably giggling, because “Look! There’s a shiny object!” has distracted you from many of life’s stresses. The rest of you? It’s a learned thing, but it helps.
Patience can sometimes be as easy as redirecting your activity into something that you CAN work on.
The Serenity Prayer says “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Project Redirection is about putting your energy into what you can change instead of worrying about what you can’t change.
Encourage Yourself – David was very good at this. Read Psalms 4 for an example. David is talking about his frustrations, and there, right in the middle he says:
Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to him.
In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.
Talk to yourself – tell yourself how you should be thinking and acting. Your mind is part of your fallen nature – the flesh. It needs to come under the direction of your spirit, which needs to be under the direction of God’s Spirit. The way you do this is by being in tune with God’s Spirit, and then, giving direction to yourself. Your emotions and bad thinking should not direct your life, God’s truth will reign when you let it.
“Self, this is what we are going to think,
and this is how we are going to act.”
Needs – Look to fill the needs of others. Everyone who has ever been on the bottom knows that the way to real blessing is to find someone else to bless.
This is also the key to finding patience in your situation.
Confess God’s Activity – God is at work in every situation. When we are biting our nails and fussing from dawn until dusk, it means that we have somehow forgotten that the One who made the universe is also in charge of our lives and can manage to get us from A to B without a catastrophic disaster.
There was a time in our lives where we were living less than month-to-month. Worse than that, we had purchased a van just one week before my husband had endured yet another lay off. I continually fussed and fumed over our bills.
How will we meet this week’s bills? Where will we get the money for school supplies? What about…. You know the litany.
This went on for about two years (yes, I said years, not weeks or months).
Suddenly, one day I had an epiphany.
“This has been going on for two years! We still have a car in our driveway, a roof over our head. Every month, we’ve had food to eat, and we’ve never had our utilities turned off.”
That day I determined to stop worrying and to practice patience with our finances. I started confessing God’s activity. God was providing for us. He had been for a long time! Within weeks of my epiphany, my husband had a full time job, and we were again in the black.
Expect God to Answer – I think this is really the crux of it. We don’t have patience because we think that somehow we can make things go faster. If we add our adrenaline to the mix, then we can cause other people to do what we want, cause life to move faster, change things to be different… we forget that God is REAL and rewards those who EARNESTLY seek Him. So, expect Him to answer.
I know, this is easier said than done. That’s why I sometimes call this “jumping up and down on God’s lap with high heels on”.
No matter what, you will face something that will require patience – if not today, then tomorrow. You might not have a nine year old sitting next to you reminding you to relax, so I hope these points will help do the trick.
- Perspective – change your perspective
- Acknowledge your fears
- Initiate Project Redirection
- Encourage yourself
- Needs – fill other’s needs
- Confess God’s activity
- Expect God’s Answer