Friday, July 14, 2017

Fist-Clenching, Tongue-Biting Patience

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 
Galatians 5:22-25, NIV

My friends and family know the truth. They've seen me at my best, and they have certainly seen me at my worst. They are fully aware of those days when I only look patient on the outside. But on the inside, my teeth are grinding, my fingers are clenched, and I am wishing I wasn't quite so frustrated by the circumstances happening in my life. I wish and I pray to have the patience that people think I have already mastered. But to be honest, brutally honest, sometimes, patience is hard to come by. I feel a like a piece of fruit that looks tasty on the outside, but is rotten and moldy on the inside.

Moms of children with special needs aren't supposed to admit that we don't always feel patient with our littles. Because if we did, it is somehow offensive to those not walking in our shoes. Sadly, I cannot always laugh it off when thing go wrong, when chocolate sauce is intentionally poured on the brand new IKEA sofa or when the plumbing is broken and the toilet is exploding... again. Perhaps I look patient on the outside, but I don't always feel it on the inside. Especially when I am wandering through the labyrinth of insurance and co-insurance and referrals and pre-authorizations, and especially when I can't arrange treatments in a timely manner. Sometimes, my patience with hospitals or doctors offices or therapies is stretched beyond belief. Sometimes, the lack of sleep rubs my patience raw and it isn't a reflection on anyone but myself. Patience does not come naturally, nor can we will it into action. We cannot force ourselves to be more patient any more than we can force delicious fruit to grow and ripen. Only the sun can do that. Sometimes, I fear that the more I pray for patience, the more I will have to practice it. And practicing patience is much too hard. Patience is simply not our nature.

The Bible speaks to our nature in Galatians 5, when it talks about our sin nature - our natural bent towards being impatient, and selfish, and a whole bunch of other less-than-wonderful and sinful things. But we aren't stuck in this sin nature, because Christ died and rose again, and when He did, He gave us a new, grace nature. This new grace nature doesn't take hold overnight, but is a process of growth. Through the process, our old nature is at war with the new. The new nature makes us want to be more patient, more kind, more good, but our old nature wants us to do everything for ourselves, to have it our way, right now. But there is a cure for the war between our old nature and our new nature.

The only way we are really going to become more patient, more kind, more good, more loving, is to lean into the Holy Spirit. To pray - not just for patience - but for the Spirit's filling in our lives, for the Spirit's hope in our lives, and for the Spirit's power to live our lives to the fullest capacity, and to grow pleasing, enjoyable fruit. It is by drawing closer to God that we grow in our new, grace nature. The only way we can be more patient is not to scold ourselves for our impatience, but to draw more deeply from the river of life - that is, the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

We don't have to grit our teeth and clench the steering wheel in rush hour traffic, hoping to feel better about our lack of patience. We need to draw from the Spirit, to get to know the One who is always patient with us. The more time we spend with Him, the more like Him we become, and the more precious, beautiful fruit we will bear. And I especially, need to be more like Him.

Dear God,

Thank You for being so patient with me. Please forgive me for the times when I have not shown patience and kindness, or love. God, please fill me with Your Spirit, help me to lean upon Your strength, and make me more like You, especially when I need to show patience each and every day.

Amen.

Amanda Furbeck

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