Of all the qualities the Lord shows us, His human children, the one that is most lost in our society today is the art of practicing patience. Toward each other. Toward God. Even toward ourselves. We are so consumed with the hustle-and-bustle nature of our modern society that patience seems to have been virtually eliminated from our repertoire of characteristics. My friends, this could possibly be one of the most devastating losses we have faced on a personal and societal level.
I recently saw a post from a dear friend of mine who lives in the South where I grew up. She mentioned how infuriating it was how “slow” everything moved in the South, that she wished people would just hurry up! While my first instinct was to laugh and shake my head, I thought about her words for quite a while. What is it in us that makes us wish everyone would get on whatever pace it is that we are currently moving at in life? Is it selfishness? Is it priority? Why are we always in such a big hurry?
Having recently moved to Southwest Florida, a.k.a. the retirement capital of the world, my patience has been tested on more than a few instances daily. Generally speaking, the older generations (ages 60-90+) have been instilled with a sense of patience that we youngsters just have not been brought up to know. Not to mention that physically, as we grow older, our movements, motor functions, and even thoughts just move slower. I have noticed something, though, that is changing the way I act toward my fellow man.
I shop at my local grocery store, Publix, where shopping truly is a pleasure. The staff is more than accommodating, and I’m slowly learning everyone’s name as they help me out with things that are out of reach, tough to find, or too heavy to lift being 9 months pregnant. No matter the time of day, the aisles are filled with retirees doing their daily shopping, often moving at a snail’s pace. Sometimes, I swear, they will look through every single pack of bacon on the shelf before making their choice for one package. To someone in a hurry, this could be infuriating. But I have been blessed, at the time, to not have many deadlines to meet, so I just patiently wait my turn to approach my needed items.
What I’ve noticed is their reaction when they turn to see me waiting with a sweet smile on my face. Often they say, “Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry!” and hurry out of the way. I reassure them with a kind greeting, “Not to worry, I’m in no hurry!” and they just beam. I think they are so used to the younger generation’s impatience with their timing that it shocks them to see someone my age not in an angered hurry, trying to hustle them out of the way because my time is “more valuable than theirs.” Making them feel just as important is so important to me. Their responses to my patience have truly made me want to be more patient in other circumstances, like allowing several cars out to make a turn when awaiting a red light, or letting someone with just a few grocery items go ahead of me in line, with my buggy filled to the brim.
We are so consumed with the hustle-and-bustle nature of our modern society that patience seems to have been virtually eliminated from our repertoire of characteristics.
On the same token, in personal relationships, giving your partner patience to come around to compromise can only strengthen your bond. As my husband and I grow in our marriage, I have understood more each day what a great man he is and how my patience with him will help us continue to grow. Instead of losing my temper or hope in him because he doesn’t understand something from my point of view—like how I prefer to arrange the dishwasher, how I like to position every single pillow in the bed before sleeping so I can find comfort with this huge belly, or just pointing out little things that could turn into pet peeves that he can help with—I have patience with our relationship, knowing that these types of considerations take time to develop, and with reassurance from him that he is trying to compromise and work with me on these things.
More importantly, I consider the patience that God must hold for us, His children, every single moment of every day. Truly, He is the only one with infinite patience, and infinite it must be to deal with the likes of us. Can you imagine how many times we fail on something that He has directed us on? How many times our bad habits and human nature must frustrate Him to no end, to see us endlessly struggle with the same things? But His grace and mercy are truly boundless, and they are manifested to us through His patience.
Therefore, He calls us to be patient with our fellow brothers and sisters. I pray every single day for more patience, and to have patience like that of God the Father. Having patience with a total stranger, or your dear husband, or perhaps any member of your friends or family circle, is truly one of the greatest gifts that we could bestow upon anyone. It is kindness in its truest form, because at that moment, our concerns are lessened and prioritized behind those of others.
The reward and heart-softening you experience when you practice patience is something that is hard to describe until you start to practice it in reality and see the responses you receive. I challenge you to try noticing how much or little patience you give to those around you each day, and see what happens. I bet you will notice what I have and start to feel your heart soften, and your anger and hurriedness fade away. Sure, we will all still have those “human moments” of frustration, but I bet you’ll see a drastic decrease in displeasure with your surroundings and an increase in appreciation for your fellow man through this patience. Pray for God’s patience to come out through you, and I promise you, people will notice this light in you, the light of the Heavenly Father; the “something different” that we strive to be.
Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
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