Struggling With Patience

PatienceYears ago, I thought I had a patience problem. I needed more of it. So, I worked to be more patient. Unfortunately, trying to be more patient didn’t work all that well.

I then decided I instead had an anger problem. If I simply prevented anger, patience would increase. You know, walk away before anger gets out of control. Avoid trying situations that erode patience and promote frustration and anger. That didn’t work either.

My efforts toward increased patience and decreased anger weren’t a complete loss, though. I sometimes managed patience if I wasn’t hungry, tired or thirsty and if everything else was basically going my way and if it wasn’t too big of a deal and if the other person was obviously just being difficult, and if…

Honestly, consistency consistently eluded me with regard to patience.

At some point, I finally realized my struggles with patience stemmed from control issues — I wanted to control people and situations… yes, all of them. I lost my patience and replaced it with anger and frustration when that didn’t happen, which was most of the time.

Understanding Patience

We most often associate patience with putting up with another person, but it goes well beyond that. Patience also means waiting and not forcing a situation to happen according to your preferences.  Having patience means staying emotionally steady when a person doesn’t do what you expect or a situation doesn’t happen as you expect.

Patience involves making a decision to not force a situation, to instead wait and let it happen — or not — as it will. Having patience and not insisting on your will requires faith as a way to not simply get through something but to instead know the Lord will direct your actions (Proverbs 16:9).

Patience involves a refusal to insist on your own way. It means letting others make mistakes because that’s the only way they’ll realize they’re mistakes and because you want the same to happen when you make mistakes. It means forgiving when a person doesn’t know they should be sorry or knows and simply isn’t sorry.

Patience toward people and circumstances often requires knowing what your emotions want and choosing to head in the opposite direction. It means employing flexibility to the utmost of your limits.

Don’t Force The Situation

Somewhere along the way, I learned to tell myself “Don’t force it” when patience evaded my grasp and anger and frustration took its place. This motto enforces patience and reminds me to wait even when my feelings want to push and pull and control.

“Don’t force it” provides a practice that receives reinforcement through remembering all the times I did the opposite and found myself overwhelmed and overloaded in getting what I wanted only to discover it was not what I needed or that it distanced me from those I loved.

“Don’t force it” is a determination that keeps me from getting ahead of God and discovering I left His presence behind for the benefits of His promises (Exodus 33). It’s a reminder to let Him be God and to follow His leading.

Psalm 37

Focus Determines Reality

Patience says you trust God to work in another’s heart and mind to their benefit and His glory (Romans 15:5). It says you trust Him to present opportunities as you actively wait in what you already know to do.

It means placing an inner stillness over your desire to control and to instead focus on His presence. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit we make room for as we deny the flesh (Galatians 5:22).

Patience exists as an attribute, a requirement really, of truly loving others (1 Corinthians 13:4). It’s a habit that flourishes in simplicity of living (James 5:7). It’s an aspect of the Lord’s character we must pursue as we focus on who He is, not just what He does.

Victory In The Struggle

Patience now exists with consistency in my life, now that I know the root cause isn’t a lack of patience or an abundance of anger but a control issue. Sure, patience needed to increase and anger needed to decrease (and sometimes they both still do), but I now realize neither of those could happen until my need to control others and situations diminished.

Until my focus turned away from my own efforts and instead fixed on the One who holds all control, my reality remained in the muck and mire of out-of-control emotions.

Knowing He has ultimate control over all aspects of life brings me peace. Knowing He gives wisdom and guidance in every moment of life produces staying confidence. And knowing His Spirit plants and cultivates patience within me allows me to focus on the victory within the struggle.

DISCUSSION: How have you struggled with patience? How have you found victory over it?

8 thoughts on “Struggling With Patience

  1. Excellent commentary on patience. When we become impatience,we are usually trying to make things happen that we cannot control. Patience most often involves waiting upon others to respond in some manner that meets our expectation. And,often enough include God in that equation. Patience is a godly quality that prevents anger,frustration,and disappointment. Impatience ruins relationships and isolates. Faith says God is the master of time and we only get to be involved in the present,never the past or the future because they rest with God. So God gave us patience as a gift because we are finitely linked to the present only. God bless,and may we all learn to be more patient with one another.

  2. Always heard it said, "never ask for patience unless you expect trouble." Hmmm. Gives me pause to ask for it. 🙂 There are times I have a lot of patience; there are also times it is in short supply. I need to keep in mind God always ALWAYS has His plan and it is best for me.
    My recent post Forgiveness

    • That says something about you… trouble? I've also heard that saying, but I read once how it's a lack of faith to not trust God to help you develop patience in ways that are best for you. Doesn't Scripture say He'll give us a way through or a way out? Doesn't it say He knows what's best and has the best plans for us? It's even true for those who go looking for trouble 🙂

  3. Thanks Kari, I thought it was just me…lol Oh yes, control is a biggie! Patience comes hard for me. My mom said the same thing. She told me how she talked to her pastor about needing patience, and the pastor prayed she would face struggles and trials so she would learn patience. No I have not learned the lesson yet. God keeps giving me opportunities and the wonderful patience of my husband.
    One way I am learning is riding in the semi and learning that life is NOT as I would have it way too often. The Serenity prayer is of great help to me in this process. Thanks!!

    • No, definitely not just you, my friend. Asking God to develop patience in us is one of the ultimate acts of faith. Simple, but not easy. It's a process, that's for sure. Progress over perfection.

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