Dear God Please Give Me Patience!

Keeping calm in the midst of chaos is a learned skill—a spiritual discipline. It is the old-fashioned virtue of patience. The dictionary defines it as: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. That covers a lot of territory!

I remember when my firstborn son was an infant. We had a 1972 Honda Civic that was about the size of a breadbox. It was a two-door car with seatbelts that rolled up. You had to bend the belts back and pull them out as they were spring-loaded and wanted to roll back up again if you eased up on the tension. Car seats were not what they are now. Bulky and awkward is a good description. Between hanging over the front seat with my middle nearly being sawed into two pieces, holding the tension on the seatbelt so it wouldn’t snap back, and pressing the other hand against the car seat as hard as I could just barely latching the belt, I was certain that I was in training for sainthood. Did I forget to mention the wiggling, noisy, uncooperative 18 month old in the seat? If this didn’t test my patience and stamina I didn’t know what would. I found it particularly trying.

And that was only the beginning. Life continued to send one trying, annoying, frustrating, and challenging situation after another. It still does. We built a house a couple of years ago. My husband came up with the great idea that I should act as the general contractor. He is in the construction trades and my father is a builder so I thought that maybe with some help I might manage the job.

Not too long into the project I realized that this was going to be another lesson in patience. I came home one evening and told my husband that something had to change--mainly, my attitude towards the whole project. That night during my devotional time I gave the whole thing over to God. I came to terms with the fact that the house would not be perfect, no matter how much I wanted it to be or how hard I tried. I made the decision to honor my desire to be Spirit-filled and to treat others in a kind, respectful way, regardless of the situation. I let go of the outcome and decided to honor the integrity of my journey. It made all the difference.

It didn’t mean that the trials, problems, and irritations stopped. It meant that I chose to look at them in a different light. My priority was to reflect the Divine, not just have a perfect house. The house finished, I was relieved, and it’s not perfect. But I have no regrets about how I treated others along the way.

The only way we ever learn patience is by having it tried—over and over. We don’t do it on our own it is a gift from God. It is listed as one of the spiritual gifts in the book of Galatians. We receive it by asking God to live in us and focusing on the value of people over things. Have you ever noticed that people are often the source of our frustration and lack of patience? It’s no wonder that this is where we have to learn to exhibit love. When you think about it, patience is really the manifestation of love and tolerance.

When I see how God treats me, the patience that I am granted every day as I struggle to grow and learn, it makes me want to be more patient with others. Next time you are being pushed and just praying under your breath, “Dear God, please give me patience!”, know that that is exactly what is happening, you are being given the opportunity to choose the path of love. Recognize the signpost for what it is and make a right turn.