Thursday, June 26, 2014

Biweekly Bits #11: Patience is a Practice

After writing 26 bits, I realized that there is so much I could elaborate on with each of my bits. So I decided to turn them into a biweekly (i.e. fortnightly) series, for the next year.
Patience is a practice. I know you've heard "patience is a virtue" many times, and it is, but it is also a practice. It is intentionally telling yourself to take a moment, or several moments, to calm down/cool your blood/think things through before acting or reacting. You train yourself to be patient, and it is just like training as a runner: every time you can go a little bit further, and you do get to a point where you can't go on anymore. But the more you train, the further away that point becomes, until you can run one of those super-marathon things without dying (or collapsing, or just giving up). (See also #3.)
This has been one of the hard lessons of my life, as it probably is for many. We're told that patience is a virtue, and we know that it is part of the fruit of the spirit, but no one really talks about how we become patient. However, I've learned through the years that patience is intentional, and requires practice.

So, how do we practice patience? Here are three steps:

1. Pray - prayer should always be the first step. Patience is challenging, challenges require prayer to overcome them. Pray for insight into why you need patience: is it in a specific area of your life? Pray for strength to be patient despite the situation. Pray for people in your life who encourage you to be patient.

2. Put it in context - when you find your patience wearing thin, sometimes context can help. Is an extra five minutes spent waiting that important? Is it something worth stressing over? How can this be used for God's glory?

3. Place things in God's hands - when it comes to big things, sometimes we are impatient because we lack control. We think that we know when is the best time, or the exact sequence of events that would be most ideal. We don't, but God does. Trust Him to know when the time is right.

There are two big things to learn here too. First, is that patience doesn't make you a pushover. Because you are patient doesn't mean that you allow others to take advantage of your time or your life. What is more important is that your life is prioritised differently. As a matter of fact, patience is impossible without God's insight into what takes precedence.

The second thing is that being patient when waiting for some things to happen will help us be content with what is happening. Our contentment comes from confidence that God is working, even when it seems like nothing is happening. Patience in the long wait gives us the chance to enjoy the journey, instead of just anticipating the destination.

So, let us make a practice of patience, with the little things, like waiting in line, and with the big things, like waiting for God to fulfil a promise to us. The patience is worth the wait.

Be blessed and shine with patience!

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23