Love is patient. 1 Corinthians 13:4
Ever heard this? “Don’t pray for patience. If you do God will give you a reason to be patient.”
Well, if you haven’t, then I don’t suggest you start praying for patience. I do suggest you hang out with kids a bit. The toddler kind. The school-age kind. The teenage kind. The grown folk kind. You will be learning lessons on patience in a hot minute.
But, let’s be real. We could learn some patience in many of life’s situations and relationships.
Case in point. When I think of patience, I think of this example.
She is standing in line. The grocery line. She intended to come in to get only a few things, and ended up with a few more than she could carry. She scurries to the express lane to find that the patron in front is writing a check. Really? A check? Like, who does that anymore? And…do you not realize, hon…they gonna hand that check you are taking oh-so-long to write back to you?
Then it starts. The huffing. The foot-tapping. The eye rolling. The death stare at the check-writing lady. Impatience. Lack of love simply because she is inconvenienced. Because she didn’t pick up a hand basket.
She is me.
Oh, I am not the check-writer. I am sure that lady is sweet as tea.
I am the huffing, impatient, foot-tapper. Supposed to be representing light and love like Jesus. But I am anything but.
Oh, and I know I am not the only one; because I have been in front of the foot tappers. In need of some patience. In need of some love when my kids have been a screaming mess. In need of the light and love of Jesus. So surely, I could have been it that day.
So, how do we exercise this “love is patient” stuff in our homes, communities, jobs…well, everywhere?
Stop. Think. Before we act or speak.
Not easy. No. Not easy at all. But it’s what we are called to do.
James 1:19 instructs us, Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry; and in Proverbs 15:18 we learn what occurs when conflict is the go to strategy: A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
This means that at times we don’t get the last word, or even the first one. That when our teen gives us a snarky response about schoolwork, we listen more and speak less. When we have to wait in that grocery line behind a check-writer…well, we just simply wait; and breathe instead of tapping our foot and rolling our eyes.
That when we have asked our tween to bring the dishes for the fifth time, we take a moment. Take a break, slowly speak it for the 6th time, with a consequence calmly added to the end, and then slowly shut the door behind us. No angry slamming.
We give time. We give space. We give soft, compassionate words, and not ones spoken out of retaliation and anger.
Because this is what Jesus would do.
He would not be huffing and foot-tapping. Slamming doors and yelling about dirty dishes. Creating conflict and raising his voice to demand others listen.
No, he would be providing calm instruction. Recognize that people are human and need time and distance to correct mistakes and make amends. Demonstrating patience, and in turn love.