The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
I really like the idea of patience. I am not really that good at it though, especially when it comes to getting something that I want. I find that patience can sometimes be hard to practice, and that it varies amongst different situations. Patience is an attribute that can be demonstrated to others and in anticipation.
Personally, when I think of the term “patience” my initial definition is waiting. I find it interesting that the technical definition is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset”. Waiting would be an acceptable definition, however, the key phrase here is “without getting angry or upset”. To me, that can be eye opening because I think that is something that we can easily forget.
I think that one of the most overlooked areas where patience can be applied is with other people. I see it on a daily basis whether it is me getting upset over someone not doing exactly what I thought they should do, in traffic, snippy remarks, etc. We all walk around on our own agendas, and that will never change. I do not think that it is inherently bad, we all have specific abilities and jobs that we need to do in order to be productive. However, I think that we let our agendas become larger than our love for others.
We find ourselves upset when others do not complete a job, back out, fail, or not give us the attention that we feel we deserve. When we place our personal expectations and desires on other people, and they do not come through, it can be extraordinary frustrating. However, I believe that the best insight into how we love others is our reactions to their failures. Our reactions, expectations, and words matter. They carry such weight and we often forget that. We flippantly make a remark, roll our eyes, or act cold to that person and do not realize the impact that we might have made on them. We get to move on from our actions, and leave the recipient to pick up the pieces.
With all of that being said, I think that the best way to combat this is to remember that we do not and will never totally understand what it is like to be in the shoes of the other person. Our perspective, is just that, OURS. There are two sides to every story and every individual that we come in contact with is carrying the weight of some form of burden. We don’t always know what that is or what it is like to carry it. I love the saying, “Just because they carry it well, does not mean that it isn’t heavy”.
I titled this post “I’m the problem”, because I think that lacking patience with someone else is never their fault, it is always our fault. When we react unjustly to the actions of someone else, we are not recognizing our role in the situation. We tend to live thinking that everyone else is supposed to conform to our desires, instead of looking for ways that we can demonstrate patience to them.
When I think about the Biblical context of the word patience, I can’t help but think of the way that God demonstrates patience to us in each and every day. The Bible seems to define the word patience as being slow to anger. I cannot help but be so grateful that the Lord is slow to anger with me, each and every single day. He sees each and every mistake, selfish desire, and reaction, yet His patience still abounds.
So, I encourage us to be slow to anger, to reign in our reactions, and to release our selfish desires. You never know what kind of battle the other person is battling within. So, when we are tempted to overreact, I implore us to consider the potential cancer diagnosis, loss of a loved one, depression, lack of resources, and the list goes on. I really feel like there is a lot of methods to the madness, it isn’t always surface level.