"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 NIVGee, that's not a tall order or anything! When I think about how I react toward and how I treat my family, one thought that comes up often is how I am not very patient. I have to wonder, can I be truly loving toward my family without being patient? Unfortunately for me, I'm pretty sure the answer is, "No."
In their book The Love Dare, Stephen and Alex Kendrick propose that love is built on two pillars: patience and kindness. It is not their original idea - we are all familiar with the verse beginning, "Love is patient, love is kind." But knowing something and applying it to everyday life are two very different things. This has made me think about how to show more patience with my family. How would that look? How would I have to change? Again, the Kendrick's have much to say that resonates with me.
First, being patient means staying positive in a negative situation. Negative situations are part of life! Any time more than one person lives in a house, spending time together every day, negative situations abound! How will I react? Earlier today, Andrew was being his normal, very talkative self. I was trying to read something very important (Well, Facebook can be important, right?) and he just kept saying the same thing over and over and over to me. This isn't something that has to be a negative situation, but I quickly turned it into one with my lack of patience. I became frustrated that he was interrupting me and annoyed at his repetition. My lack of patience made it impossible for my son to see my love for him in that moment. This is also an important thing for me to remember right now while Jerry and my older boys are going through an allergy treatment. No one would dare argue about whether that is a negative situation! Probably because so much prayer has gone into these three-day treatment periods over the last two years, I am able to be very patient with the negative aspects of these treatments. When my children whine, vomit, and refuse to eat, I am saddened and I do get frustrated because I want them to do what they should to not suffer, but I also am patient knowing that it will end in a few days. That patience allows me to have an internal calm regardless of what is happening around me. Without it, I would have a hard time showing my family love in the way they need it on these days.
Second, patience makes us wise. If I am not quick to rush to judgment, but allow myself to truly listen to the one I love in a difficult conversation or situation, I am able to respond in love. Proverbs had much to say about this, such as, "He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly." The Kendrick's put it well, "Patience is where love meets wisdom."
Finally, patience gives our loved ones permission to be human. Everyone makes mistakes, falls short, and fails at times. I don't have to look very far to find numerous examples of this human nature - I can just look in the mirror! When I am consistently patient, my family knows they doesn't have to be afraid to make these inevitable human errors in front of me. They can be confident of my love!
Patience doesn't come naturally to me, but it is a quality worth striving for. This is something in which the Lord has been dealing with me. What has he been showing you lately?