Oh how we admire the patient ones.
Parents, teachers, spouses, friends, coaches…the ones who never seem to lose their cool and speak few words as they listen, counsel and somehow encourage others just by being present.
And we want that, right?
I do anyway.
I want to be patient because I want to be that person for my people.
But I forget the cost until I drag out the dictionary one more time to check and see if anything has changed about this quality of love.
So for the record, as gentle and lovely as the word sounds, it still means the same thing.
Patience…the capacity, habit (HABIT), or fact of being patient.
Patient…of the Latin word pati; to suffer.
1. bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
2. manifesting forbearance (self-control) under provocation or strain
3. not hasty or impetuous
4. steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity
5. able or willing to bearWebster’s New Collegiate Dictionary; G. & C. Merriam Co. 1973
Patience is not the evidence of someone who is untouched by all that tests and tries the rest of us.
Patience is a willingness to endure without complaint the stuff of life, whether personal or as we walk alongside others and get hit by their shrapnel.
I tend to want patience and want it now, how about you?
And I often mutter that I could be a lot more patient if people would just cooperate the first time…just kidding. Kind of.
Seriously though, if I want to truly be a person who loves well, it is clear to me that I have to make the decision to choose to not lose my junk every time I face some kind of difficulty or opposition or provocation when dealing with people who are unpredictable (or sometimes very predictable).
2 Corinthians 4:4 reminds me…Love is patient. Love is kind.
Eugene Peterson in The Message words that verse as love cares more for others than for self.
And that is the crux of my impatience.
When I am impatient it is because the personal discomfort I am feeling as the result of someone else’s choices, behaviors, or ignorance is winning out over the love I want so desperately to have for that one.
God is so patient with me and when I lean hard into Him during times of adversity in my relationships…whether it is waiting for an independent toddler to get in the van or a twenty-something to figure it out or an octogenarian to find the gift certificate she is sure she put in her purse this morning…whatever it is…whoever it is…wherever it is…in order to be that patient person I long to be, love must rule over self.
Perhaps this is why the One who told us the greatest of these is love also told me I need to die to myself every single day.
“Give them obvious signs of love — such as mercy, forgiveness, patience, generosity of heart, acceptance, and encouragement…” page 36; Stormie Omartian, Power of a Praying Grandparent. Harvest House Publishers, 2016.