Don't Ask for Patience...
"Don't ask for patience!"
Ever hear that? The saying usually goes, "Don't pray for patience, or God will give you opportunities to be patient!" or some other rot like that. I've never been a fan of the saying. As if God is standing up in heaven holding some kind if special long-suffering lightening bolt, just waiting for someone to ask for it so He can target practice. "Lee wants to be more patient? Alright, let's see how she handles this little doozy!"
If patience came by just gritting your teeth and enduring alone, I think there would be a lot more "patient" people in this world. But I don't think that is really the definition of patience that we are looking for. We don't just want to endure though situations, the patience we want includes peace while we are going through it.
James 1:2-4 says:
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
Another common passage on patience is in Romans 5. Verses 3-5a say:
"We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us,..."
I think that its really interesting that most quotations of these verses stop here, when I feel like the real key to this question is found in the rest of Romans 5:5:
"...because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts. He gave us His love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us."
Boom! Let's review: peace, patience, faith, love, joy...does this sound like a familiar list?
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
That is the key, my friends! If patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit we don't have to pray for patience, we just need to ask for more of the Holy Spirit. Patience in our lives will be a natural result of His presence.
I'm not just spouting off some random theory to you, mamas. I know this works because I have lived it!
Remember a few weeks ago when I encouraged you to just ask the Holy Spirit to help you with you parenting? Well, I never tell you ladies to do something without doing it myself, and I certainly have had a few opportunities to practice this. One morning last week, I was being yelled at and having doors slammed in my face. "What's wrong with you? I hate you! Leave, or I will!" were just a few of the things that were being screamed at me. Thinking back to similar situations, I remembered how I would react with my own emotions and indignation in the past. Instead, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me get to the root of the issue with my teen. I stayed calm, oh so calm...so calm that about halfway through it I wanted to start laughing at myself because it was so different from my go-to emotional reactions. She kept resisting, I kept inviting the Holy Spirit, and before long He was irresistible and I was able to pass His peace onto my not-so-little girl.
God is good, mama! He doesn't throw long-suffering lightening bolts at you and then leave you alone to deal with them. He is with you through every trial. Whether your teen is threatening to run away from home or your toddler has dumped the toy bucket again (after you just told him not to do that!), the Holy Spirit is always available to guide you through. Inviting Him in will give you the patience you need!
So, again, don't ask for patience. Or don't just ask for patience. Ask for the Holy Spirit, and you will get patience as well as all the other good stuff that comes along with Him.
Love you, mamas!