Things have been pretty easy so far in our "4 Traits" series. Kindness and honesty are positives that even when actively pursued can only enhance our lives and bless us. The next two, however, while still positive traits, come at a cost. Here's the next one in our series: Patience.
Ah yes, how we would all love more patience and yet the only way to gain this trait is through practice. This means enduring situations where we must learn to be patient. On the scale of favorite things to do, 'waiting' is somewhere near the bottom of everyone's list. Whether it is waiting for a package to come, waiting at a medical office for a visit or waiting in a long line of traffic to merge, almost no one would ever say, they enjoy the wait. We fidget, we get bored, we get angry when we are made to wait. We feel as if we are wasting time just sitting. Patience is a virtue, yes, but it is also very difficult to achieve.
We desperately need more patience. We've been spoiled in our modern world. I just read about pioneer times, how in one year the people on the frontier went from traveling just a few miles a day on the river to being able to cover almost 100 miles in a day due to the invention of the steam engine. Can you imagine it taking an entire day to go from Howell to Fenton by horse and buggy? And then the next day being able to cover the distance in an hour or less? Such a drastic change would be marvelous. This is why when we know we can get from point A to point B in 30 minutes but traffic or an accident causes it to take 2 hours, steam starts coming out of our ears. We get impatient! And not just with travel but with the mail, coworkers, our electronic devices. If it takes less than the 1 second we are accustomed to, we get impatient. We need more patience. We need to pray that God would make us patient people. And yes, that probably means you will be placed in situations where you will practice that trait. But you can also ask God to help you through the waiting. What does patience look like?
Patience is the ability to endure, tolerate or accept delay, trouble or suffering without getting upset. It can be daily like waiting in a long line or it can be impatience brought about by waiting for an answered prayer. Regardless of the scenario here are three ways to begin practicing patience in your life.
One way to begin practicing patience is to ask yourself, "Who's in control?" If the answer is "anyone but you", relax. It's out of your hands and Jesus said that your anxiety can't change your height or lengthen your life so LET.IT.GO. Relinquish control to the one who can handle it - Jesus.
Another way to invite patience into your life is to ask yourself: What does my impatience do to me? To those around me? When you are stalking around, angry about things not happening on your timetable, observe what happens to people around you. Ever been driving with friends or family in a traffic jam? Did you lose it a little bit? Slam the steering wheel? Yell things at other drivers? If you did, it might have made the ride uncomfortable. Acting out our impatience might feel like a good release at the time but in a moment of clarity we would look back and be embarrassed at how our impatience got the best of us. So look at how it impacts you and those around you.
A third way to encourage patience is to ask ourselves: What constructive things can I do while I wait? Often, our times of waiting are free moments to do things we normally shove aside and say we don't have time for. Call your parents. Read a book. Pray. Make a to do list. Don't waste time being impatient and fretting over a situation. Use it as time God has given you that you didn't expect.
It may seem as if you've waited for something for a long time but consider that even the things in your past that you waited for have now come and gone. They probably seem like a long time ago. At the time our waiting feels like an eternity but with a bit of perspective we realize it's not that long at all.
So what about you? Are you a patient person?