Standing in line for coffee the other day, a woman behind me began to compliment on my Jaelle, my sweet little 3 month old. She was so sweet and kind and I became so wrapped up in our conversation that I didn't realize i was next in line. Finally, the woman behind the woman who was talking with me interjected, quite harshly, "Are you planning to order or not?"
Embarrassed, I made a quick apology, bluntly ended my conversation and took a quick step forward to order my coffee. But my coffee wasn't as tasty as I had anticipated it to be. I kept replaying the rude and impatient comment in my mind. It was hurtful and embarrassing. But you know, I think what pricked the most was that she gave me a glimpse on how I can be at times: hasty, sharp and impatient.
"Patience is a virtue." We're all familiar with that platitude. But really, it's more than a catch phrase. It's a fruit of the spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law.…"- Galations 5:22
Many of us are familiar with this scripture. You might even remember the song from Sunday School. But do we really understand why it's a fruit? Why is patience listed among so many other sweet and soulfully delicious virtues? Do we really know what patience is? Do we even know how to incorporate it in our living and why, if it is so sweet, do we struggle to be patient?
First, let's define it.
Patience is waiting without complaint.
So complaining is, essentially, the effects of being impatient.
Ok... so now that we know we have failed, let's dig deep into how we can overcome this failure of impatience, so that we can find victory in being more patient.
Why are we impatient?
When I look back over the times when I am quick to rush into action or quick to rush others into action, the root of it all is most likely discomfort. I don't want to be late because that would be embarrassing, so I speed. I might be short in my response to Jarrett over a question he has about laundry or about the girls because I need him to get it quickly so that I can get on with doing something else on my to-do list and feel accomplished for the day. I get agitated with circumstances that aren't moving as quickly as I would like them to because I am tired of my current situation and ready for the next.
Yes, discomfort is at the root of our impatience and seeing that we, as human beings, are creatures of comfort, it's uncomfortable to experience discomfort in any capacity, so we are impatient because truly, we aren't content.
"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment"- 1 Timothy 6:6
Contentment is a product of patience. It's also a form of gratitude. When I am content, then I am not busy or bound with dissatisfaction. I am more likely to invest in others, because I am not preoccupied with myself. I am more likely to have an attitude of gratitude, because I am not in a place of longing for things I think I should have that I do not have yet.
So is this post about contentment or about patience? Well, it's really about both because both equip us to be more loving, more secure and more impactful women.
To be patient is to endure discomfort without complaint. This calls into play some other virtues, specifically, self-control, humility, and gratefulness.
Our complaining and impatience is rooted, first in selfishness and second in insecurities; neither of which propel us to love like Jesus. Though we are deserving of having good things in our lives, not everyone's portion is supposed to be ours at the same time they are experiencing it. So when we struggle with impatience in our business pursuits, in our love lives, in our ministries, health, children, family ... well, really, what we are saying is, "Things are not going my way, so I am upset and disgruntled. I am annoyed and touchy because my plans for myself aren't working out the way I desire, so therefore I am unable and unwilling to take the time to celebrate what is being manifested in my life or in the lives of others."
This is not contentment. This is not gratitude. This is not love.
The heart of Jesus, which is love personified, is so very patient with us always and all the time. He was able to exercise patience because He was humble and grateful, content and loving. His refusal to complain, compete or compare resulted from His humility. Humility is the conscious decision to lower ourselves and consider others, even if it means denying ourselves of the right to put our feelings, goals, wants and expectations first. In so doing, we give ourselves permission to spiritual stop and smell the roses and enjoy all the blooming blessings that God is unfolding for us. Sometimes, this is quite difficult, but it's not impossible