Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Patience is . . . not my specialty!

On our way back from camp last week, our friend Denise rode with us. She offered to treat us to lunch at McDonalds which we of course took her up on! While we were trying to figure out what everyone wanted I was overly annoyed and hard on one of the kids. It wasn't that big of a deal, but after a week of camp, sick kids and no sleep it was just one of my usual natural bad reactions. I didn't scream and yell or anything but it wasn't the way I would choose to respond. Whenever that happens when we are out in public, I feel like everyone is looking at me. I know I do when I see other people in less than perfect parenting moments.

The thing that other people don't know, however, is where you've been. They haven't seen the 150,000 other times that day that you have patiently helped with shoes or answered the same question or dealt with the same behavior issues. They didn't see what it took to get everyone loaded up in the car to get a pack of diapers that you may or may not be able to afford or that you've been on the road with a bunch of little kids for a week. And more than likely no one saw the tears streaming down your face because you feel overwhelmed and stressed and you're not sure how to make it through the day.

I am usually pretty hard on myself when I am not patient. I want to be patient with the kids. I want to do the very best I can do as a parent. I want to be Mary Poppins or at least a well-dressed, cool, patient mom on a sit-com. But those are not real life. I'm not really good at being patient. I get irritated when there are long lines or a slow person in front of me. I tap my fingers on the counter when they have to call for a price check or fumble for a coupon. I tap my fingers on the steering wheel when someone is driving slow. Just get moving!

In real life, we are stretched and busy and tired. So I am going to work on being patient and Lord knows I pray for that everyday. But it's a work in progress. And those judgmental looks, however annoying or well-deserved aren't important. The only one I am accountable to at the end of the day is Jesus and thankfully he is a gracious and merciful God: slow to anger and abounding in love.

So when I am less than kind and loving on the 150,001st time I'm asked a question, I feel like I should be able to cut myself some slack. But the reality is that the Bible teaches we must be patient, not to mention gentle and loving, over and over again. I really do pray for patience, but I continually blow it. I know I'll never be perfect, but oh, I want to be more like Him!

James 5:7-11
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Psalm 86:15
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.