LISTEN TO: Plumb, "How Many Times "
"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "
Howcan we become more loving, Christ followers in 2020? Patience tops the list. Love is patient. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). It blooms when we cultivate it with care. We have ample opportunity to practice patience because we do not live in patient times. Cars weave in and out of traffic with impunity. We repeatedly press an elevator button, thinking it will come quicker. We have frozen meals, and 1 in 4 Americans eat fast foods at least once a day. We expect our orders or purchases to be processed quickly, children to learn that piano piece more rapidly. Chop, Chop!
Life, however, doesn't rush in the fast lane. One of my favorite Seminary professors, Dr. Kosuke Koyama, wrote a book called the "Three Mile an Hour God." Dr. Koyama noted, "People no longer see one another with faces, but as numbers and replaceable units in productive processes and systems. ...Our God is a three-mile-an-hour God." That is the speed at which humans walk. That is the speed at which Jesus wended his way through Galilee -- touching the ill, chatting with widows, pausing in marketplaces to observe children at play, plucking grain in the fields on a sabbath day." Only with patience can we reclaim the pace in which we have the ability to discern the face of God in each other.
So to be patient is to attune ourselves with the true pace of life. Some parts are faster, others are slower. We need patience with both. The root meaning of patience in Hebrew is to be slow to anger. One word in Greek tells us to "bear with adversity." So patience forgoes our own "timing," so we can relate and care for others calmly and with dignity. We do not judge or force growth. We endure the discomfort of trying circumstances without complaint, blaming or annoyance. We learn to let go of unrealistic expectations. We put others first. We put ourselves in another's shoes. Over time patience will begin a more natural reaction in face of adversity, delay, set-backs and misunderstandings
Here are some steps to learn patience:
1: Practice Wait: “count to 10 before you respond” is a tried and true way to practice patience. While you count, breathe in deeply. Pray for help. Let God take charge.
2: Take a longer view: If you’re reacting because someone upset you (e.g.: a friend who hurt your feelings, a stranger who was rude, etc.) or then give a little prayer of thanks that it wasn't worse, say a blessing for your friend (who probably needs it). If you are tempted to break a resolution, pause a minute and visualize your bigger goal— becoming a more spiritual person. Remember: "this too shall pass."
3. Give yourself a break: If you act on an impulse before thinking about it, acknowledge that you did it, then forgive yourself and get back on track. If you find yourself acting impatiently a lot, pray and ask God to show you what's going on in your life and heart. Too many demands? Too many buried hurts and fears? Be merciful with yourself, you are human. Remember God is patient and loving, and forgiving, and is a light to our path. As this becomes a reality in our life, we are called to treat others in the same way.
4: Celebrate: Remember to celebrate your accomplishments; when you withheld the cross word, when you took the extra time to help a co-worker, or took time out of your day to aid a stranger. Frequent small celebrations are a way to reward yourself for patience, and to increase your motivation to be even more patient.
PRAY: "Lord, teach us patience, so we may grow in your school of love!"