If I’m being completely honest, I would have to say the only time I do not struggle with patience is when I’m asleep—and even then I can’t be sure.
“Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” The last part is the kicker—keeping a good attitude when all you want to do is complain and scream about something that is driving you absolutely crazy. In some situations, it literally takes all of my will power to appear calm, when on the inside I am not.
If you know me well, you are probably aware that I am an avoider. Anything I don’t want to deal with, I just avoid. This tactic has worked relatively well most of my life, but since it’s only a short term fix; it’s bound to come kick me in the butt eventually.
The reason I told you about my avoidance problem is because it fits right into my patience problem.
There’s this lovely Irish proverb that says “for what cannot be cured by patience is best.” Well, if I ever doubted my Irish heritage, I don’t anymore because that must be where I get my strong distaste for patience. This explains why when I see situations that involve a lot of patience, I usually run in the opposite direction, and don’t look back.
However, there are actually, believe it or not, times when running away is not an option and you actually have to deal with unpleasant situations—crazy, I know.
This is where I’ve set myself up for failure. I don’t know how to deal with these situations and they turn out being ten times worse than they needed to be (oh, I’m also really bad at confrontation, if you didn’t know).
So now I need to start over at square one. I think at this point God is just laughing at me saying, “Well Maddie, I gave you a chance, many chances actually, to get good at this, but you didn’t take those opportunities, so now take luck, you are going to need it.”
Ok, so here’s the big question…how do I become patient? Does it mean I just have to keep all my emotions to myself and calmly go along with whatever is bothering me? Is patience really just passively giving up what you want for the sake of what someone else wants?
Honestly, that’s always how I’ve seen it. I’ve always thought patience was just giving up my own opinion if it interferes with someone else’s. I’ve thought that if I just wait it out, and not stir up trouble, I’ll eventually get what I want. But I don’t think that’s it—I think we are meant to be active–we just have to be patiently active…right.
I think the first step to becoming the actively patient person God wants me to be is to be understanding. I can’t keep thinking that everyone thinks the same, or should think the same, as me. It’s just not going to happen. Sometimes I forget that every single person on this planet has lived a different life than me which causes them to react to situations in a different manner then I would—it doesn’t mean they are wrong, it just means that we are different.
When we begin to understand where someone is coming from, it becomes easier to accept why they act the way they do. Now I’m not saying we have to be ok with everything everyone does, because we still can’t allow sin to take over the world, I’m just saying that when we understand why someone is doing something, we can address it better and patiently figure out the proper way to respond to it.
I understand that was probably a big mumbo-jumbo mess of words, but what I am trying to say is that not everyone is the same and we can’t expect to get along perfectly with everyone (I mean, even Frodo and Sam fought every once in a while). But if we learn to understand where people are coming from, it will help us receive the Grace to use patience to overcome our trials, and if we want to use that patience well, we have to have a good attitude.