Over a week ago, I wrote about what God is teaching me about being a patient mama. I’ve learned more since then and I also got a good question from a friend, so I decided to do a follow-up post. Here are my thoughts, but I’d like to say again that this is just what God is teaching me. I’m so very far from “there”, but I’m happy to share my journey with you. The question was “Do you choose to be patient because you love, or are you already patient because you love?” Such a great question!
I honestly think it’s a little of both. Feelings can be wonderful and there are certainly days that I feel patient because I love them. So, yes, sometimes I am already patient because I love them. Then there are days when I still love my girls to pieces, but I don’t feel patient. I don’t love them any less, but rather than feeling patient, I have to consciously choose to act patiently. Occasionally, patience comes easily, but most of the time it doesn’t. What amazes me, though, is when I focus on what God said about love (that love is patient), it almost always changes my feelings right away! Sometimes it’s much more difficult and I really need to pray through it (“God, You are so patient with me when I fail and when I sin. Please give me a heart to love my girls with patience the way that You love us.”) and sometimes I completely blow it! I just react without even pausing to think. I snap and sigh and scowl.
God knew He had to command us to love. He knew that we wouldn’t automatically feel and act loving all the time, so He had to tell us to love each other and He told us what that means (being patient, kind, etc.). I think that means that love is more often a choice requiring effort than an automatic response that comes from feelings. Even then, it’s not something that we can do perfectly though will-power. We have to dwell on His words and allow Him to work His truth into our hearts. That’s why I decided to take that one little phrase from 1 Corinthians to focus on. It isn’t just a mantra or a reminder. It’s also an invitation to God to change my heart to reflect His word though my actions. My hope is that eventually, He will have had so many opportunities to work patience into my heart that I will actually be a patient person.
I’ve also learned in the last week and a half (since I wrote my post about patience) that there are three other things that make a huge different for me when it comes to being patient.
- The first is sleep. When I’ve had some good quality sleep, I don’t have nearly the struggle with impatience that I have when I’m tired. Being tired makes even the smallest frustrations seem overwhelming.
- The second thing is being organized. When I haven’t made plans for dinner and the kitchen is a mess, tripping over a toy that was supposed to have been put away is a much bigger deal to me than when the kitchen is clean and dinner is in the oven.
- The third thing is allowing for plenty of downtime. When I overextend myself with too many commitments, the pressure of getting everything done puts me on edge. The slightest annoyance can push me over the edge. When all three of those things are right, I do so much better!
When something happens and I begin to feel impatient about it, I try to remember to do these things:
- Stop what I’m doing. When I need to respond to something, I always feel more impatient (and look and sound impatient!) when I try to continue with what I was doing. It helps so much to stop cooking or typing or cleaning and really focus on what is happening.
- Make eye contact. It helps me to remember that I am talking to a precious, sensitive little girl when I look her in the eye rather than tossing words over my shoulder. It helps even more if I get down on her level and have her come over to where I am.
- Think or say “Love is patient“. It’s a cue to me and an invitation to God. It puts things into perspective for me. If “the greatest of these is love” and “love is patient”, then the food on the carpet isn’t as high on the list of important things as I thought it was.
- Look patient, sound patient, act patient. If I’ve stopped, made eye contact and remembered that love is patient, it’s usually not nearly as hard to look, sound and act patient. I do still have to make an effort and be intentional about it, though.
I hope that some of what I’m learning is an encouragement to you other mamas out there!
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