I heard the phrase “patience is a virtue” at least a thousand times before turning 18. Like most of us, I always wanted all good things right away, not even wanting to wait until Christmas morning to open presents. I took the SAT exam a year early, and almost skipped my senior year to attend college. Once there, I registered for classes to get a baccalaureate degree in three years. Talk about impatience!
Two weeks before I was leaving on my first mission trip to South Africa, we had a meeting to discuss travel details. Afterwards, a friend asked if I would join her for coffee. I was surprised when she said, “You seemed impatient in the meeting. Going on a mission trip is a noble cause, but so is exhibiting patience. Patience is a characteristic of love, faith and hope.”
“The most well-known is 1 Corinthians 13:4 and states it plainly, “Love is patient.” It is the opening phrase and many people miss it. They rush over it to get to the parts about love being kind and not boastful or arrogant. But first the apostle Paul says, “Love is patient.” It must be pretty important if he lists it first.
“Another example of the importance of patience is the apostles had to wait 50 days from the resurrection of Christ until the Holy Spirit descended upon them (Acts 1:12-2:4). It was so important that they spent the time in prayer, and waited with patience. No whining from this group.”
My impatience was getting worse. Three minutes was long enough for me to get a response to my instant message, I posted pictures on FACEBOOK during the event, and fast food became a lifestyle and is, well, “fast”.
Recently, I went back and re-read the Scriptures on patience. I realized when I get irritated and rush headlong into things, it’s probably me or Satan wanting to get me worked up and confused so I make bad decisions.
I’ve consciously developed some hobbies and disciplines that help me slow down, make me wait in patience for the right decision, the right time, the right person. Here are my top five activities teaching me patience:
- Photography- I have a new SLR digital camera and spent 2 hours this morning waiting for just the right shot of birds climbing over my new birdfeeder. I had to re-shoot a couple of takes because the light wasn’t right, or the birds weren’t looking into the camera. I have to be patient.
- Writing - Now that I am writing a book and this blog, words matter. I have to wait until I find the right words to describe the picture in my mind. Sometimes no words come, and I can’t write that day at all. I have to be patient.
- Cooking- I don’t eat fast food anymore; I cook most meals. It requires time to make out the list, go to the store, prep the food, cook the food and eat the food. I have to be patient.
- Prayer-I can’t expect all my prayers to be answered right away. God’s time is the right time. I have to be patient.
- Listening- I used to half-listen to my friends, preparing for my next comment. Not really listening, but waiting to interject. Now my friends can take as long as they want to tell me about their day. I have to be patient.
What are you doing to practice more patience in your life? Share them here!
It is a matter of love.