By Hannah Brzozowski
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Take a moment and think of the most patient person that you've ever known. Close your eyes and imagine being with them for a moment. Now open, how do you feel? Happy or at peace, maybe?
Next, think of the most impatient person in your life. Think about how you feel when you're around them. Do you feel anxious? Or hurried?
Which person do you want to be more like?
We live in an age that is constantly in a rush. If our package doesn't get here in two days from across the world, we're calling customer service to complain. We want fast food, not slow food. If we can't get a hold of someone immediately, we are worried that they're dead in a ditch somewhere.
I tend to think of myself as a patient person. I don't get road rage. I won't send you an angry text if you are late for our meeting. But...on the other hand...you'll never catch me leaving the cookie dough in the fridge overnight because the recipe calls for it. I'm not waiting an eternity to make cold brew at home. Now that I think about it, I'm getting antsy right now waiting on Nick to go to a cafe!
Just so we're on the same page for the rest of this post, Google defines patience as, "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset."
In that case, it's about a daily basis when I feel irritation in my chest any time I am inconvenienced in the least.
So, how do we start to be more patient in this hurried world? How do we be more like that person who you thought of at the beginning of this post?
1) Breathe In. Breathe Out.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
When someone irritates you, the initial reaction can be to just lash out. They cut you off in traffic. You honk and flip them off. They take forever making your coffee. You ask to speak to the manager. They don't do the dishes. You slam the dishes as loud as possible as you clean them.
The next time this happens, I want you to take a moment and breathe in through your nose. Then, out out through your mouth. Do this nice and slow for a few moments or even up to five minutes depending on how impatient you're feeling. I learned recently that this can help get your brain to think more clearly in emotional situations. Taking some time to regulate your emotions can be the difference between an argument or a calm conversation about how that action made you feel with your friend.
2) Realize The Faithfulness of God in Your Life.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
In some seasons of life, we're in a state of waiting and in need of patience more than ever. It could be that you're waiting to get that promotion or get out of this town to go to college.
In these types of situations, it can be helpful to look at God's faithfulness in your life already. Think back to a time that you thought something wasn't going to come through. Maybe it could be when you got approved for your first mortgage or you got that check in the mail that was as surprise. Or maybe, someone in your life got healed from an illness.
In the midst of waiting, we can lose sight of what God has done for us in the past and it's important to remember. Just look at the Old Testament. Throughout Exodus for instance, God is reminding his people over and over again about how he took them out of slavery in Egypt.
Take a moment now and even write down how God has been faithful to you before. This will help you trust him in the future in this season of waiting.
3) Look at the Bigger Picture.
The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride.
Let's imagine for a moment.... You dreamt about it all day and then you saw the line. There was like 20 people in front of you and all you wanted was that creamy, delicious cookie dough ice cream. This is going to take forever. Then, you see it, they're training someone today! You get to the front of line finally. You order and they tell you that they're out of thing that you've dreamt of all day. You scream inside your head (or maybe outside): "Why do these things always happen to me?!" You leave ice cream less and you're in a bad mood for the rest of the night.
Now, let's take a second and think about the other side of this story: the trainee. They came in, nervous for their first day. It's a whirlwind. The person training them talks a mile a minute and they try to take everything in. The trainer decides to have the trainee do the cash register and it's a Friday. Soon, families start to pour in after dinner wanting their ice cream. Kids are crying and screaming. There's a line out of the door. Then, the bad news comes: they ran out of the most popular flavor. The trainee sheepishly says, "I can help who's next." They order the flavor they just ran out of. Heart starts to race - the first day and they got a customer mad at them. They go home, completely stressed out of their mind, and thinking about how they have to do it all again tomorrow.
Now, I realize that in the grand scheme of life, ice cream ranks pretty low on the list. But, the next time you're getting impatient, think about what might be going on in that person's life. Think about how you could help make that person's day better, not worse.
4) Consider Others To Be More Important Than Yourself.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
As Christians, we're called to live by a very important commandment: Love others as we love ourselves. Through being patient, it is living life as though our time is not worth any more than anyone else's. But often, we can live like it is. If we're late by 10 minutes, we had a good excuse. But if someone is late, we can be annoyed because they wasted our time. If we mess up and forget a friend's birthday, it's ok because we have so much going on. If they forget our's, well that's a different story.
Next time you're feeling antsy waiting for someone, remember that we are to think of others better than ourselves.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
This week, I want you to try something. Look for the moments where you get impatient and get excited when you do. Why? Because this is an excellent moment to work on this fruit of the Spirit in your life. You can't expect to get better at something, if you don't practice. You're not going to be patient overnight. It will take time. Just like getting stronger in the gym, you have to put the reps in to get more patient. Don't expect to be able to be the most patient person in a season of waiting when you can't be patient waiting for the light to turn green. Work up to it.
Enjoy the moment at the light. Open your window. Breathe in the fresh air and breathe out. Think about God's faithfulness. You know it won't stay red forever. The light has turned green in the past. Look at the bigger picture. Maybe another driver at the intersection is headed to important job interview and is running late this morning. Consider them more important than yourself. Maybe they needed the green light more than you did.
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