I’ve been reflecting on the importance of patience in our lives–at work, at home, in our marriage and friendships. The last several years have forced upon me an acute awareness of the difficulty in waiting for those good things my heart desires while also knowing they may never come. There’s a balance to be struck between complete indifference–which I sometimes tell myself I should achieve if my goal is control over and perspective on my emotions–and being utterly overwhelmed. Both are extremes, and in the past I’ve gotten caught up in the false truths of one or the other.
I understand impatience to be an elevation of my own desires above present and future grace. It’s a frustration that persists when those desires, no matter how well-intentioned, are not being satisfied. Even more, it’s a feeling of entitlement and lack of belief in the promises of God.
But waiting does not have to mean waiting in despair, and aiming to be emotionally grounded does not require I teach myself to feel nothing. It means, as someone said to us recently, expressing those emotions constructively, in a way that builds us up and directs us to the one who brings peace and comfort, who is in charge of our lives, working all things for good even when disappointments and hardships make it difficult to see.
Being patient is so closely tied to contentment and I’ve often viewed those concepts in moments of hardship as another way of saying to just give up one’s hopes or settle. When I allow myself the freedom to focus on the present, seeing my desires through God’s sovereignty, my perspective changes. Patience is not giving up but rather accepting that God’s will looks differently than my own, and his is the path to complete fulfillment. Patience is appreciating stillness instead of merely tolerating it. Patience is forgiveness, again and again. It’s grace and love. It’s looking to what we have and not what we don’t. Patience is turning away from fear.
I pray the Lord helps me practice true patience, knowing that through him I am sustained in all things.