Patience is not my strong point. Perhaps it is for you. I think I am patient in those overarching life issues. I can bear the wait and all of the attending struggles that go with big important things. But sitting in a traffic jam is not easy to deal with. I’m not as bad as I used to be. But still… who wants to wait on someone else to get out of the way, right? Some people are extremely patient. They can wait, and wait, and... You see, patience is not a lack of concern about the clock. It is not the act of not caring about time. Patience is about caring enough to wait in a peaceful state until the issue is resolved. In this sense, being patient is a choice you make. It is about using your time to care about other people. Patience is not about not caring about time. It is caring more about the people you are loving than the time you are losing.
To be patient is to be able to ‘remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people’. So then, patience is ‘the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient.’ There is something natural about being patient. We were born after nine months of waiting. Much of our childhood is spent doing some things we dislike until we are able to do what we wanted to do. But as humans, we get to a point where patience is not forced upon us. Then we actually have to choose to be patient. When you get a car, you get freedom. The fact that you can go means you should be going, right? And anything that gets in the way of our going will test our patience.
This points to the idea that patience is a test of who is most important. If you find an impatient person, you will find a person who believes and acts as if the world revolves around them. Impatience is a revealer of self-centeredness, or selfishness. Patience would then be a revealer of proper perspective. In my own situation, even though I don’t always win the patience battle sitting in traffic, I came to a point where I realized that if there was a traffic jam, it was probably because someone was having trouble. Initially I would think I was having trouble, becoming late for an appointment, wasting fuel, being unproductive. But in reality, I was sitting on the interstate because someone else’s life may have changed forever. I may be an hour late, but someone else just lost their car in an accident… or worse… someone may have just lost their child or spouse in an accident. Or maybe a person died in the accident. This has helped me to deal with my impatience.
I now make a choice to think and pray about the other people involved, even if I don’t know them. This enables me to wait it out. I practice patience. I have ‘the capacity to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting a long time.’ So I do it. The same principle is true in personal relationships. The apostle Paul talks about the nature and traits of love in 1 Corinthians 13. In telling us about what love is, the first thing he says is, “Love is patient.” Love is willing to wait over time because of a difficult person. We can say, “I love you” in about one second. But true love cannot be expressed in a second. True love is self-sacrificing. And part of that self-sacrifice is our time. As believers we must exchange our clock for God’s clock. He lives in a different time dimension. He truly loves us. So He is patient when we are slow. If we truly love, we will be patient when others are slow.
When I live in the reality that your world does not spin around me, it makes it easier to be calm when you don’t keep step in my time. Getting annoyed at your pace does not build our relationship even if it causes you to speed up. There are many things I learn and add to my life when I am patient with people. When I am impatient, frantic, and annoyed, I rarely improve as a person. And I certainly do not add good things to others.
There is absolutely no doubt your patience will be tested today. It is a 100% certainty. How will you respond? Will you freak out? Will annoyance take over your life causing you to do things that will make others miserable? Or will you calmly recognize that your waiting it out will result in better relationships and a better you? Patience is your choice. The problems may be put upon you, but you choose how you will handle them.
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.