But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
This week’s fruit of the Spirit is patience. I gotta tell you that whenever I write a devotional, it seems like whatever I’m writing about becomes the battle for that week. I’m doing pretty well with keeping my anxiety in check until I write about peace. Or I’m feeling incredibly joyful…until I write about joy. And this week was no different with patience. I really had to battle this one out on multiple fronts.
Everything I write on this blog, I’m writing it to myself. This is an outlet of teaching and preaching to myself. It’s wonderful, and incredibly challenging. Just a reminder that we’re in this together, mamas.
I know we’re all probably going a little stir-crazy with the whole world on lockdown during this COVID pandemic, and I think it’s safe to say we could all use a little more patience. (And peace. Read more about peace here.)
Patience = makrothumia
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.Ephesians 4:1-3
Patience here is “makrothumia” which means “long-suffering.” The word “makro” means “long” and “thumia” means “temper” – so at its essence, this word means long-tempered (as opposed to short tempered).
This term is used 14 times in the New Testament, 5 of which refer to God’s patience (or long-suffering) with us.
Chrysostom defined long-suffering as the spirit that has the power to take revenge, but never does. It is sometimes translated as “forbearance” – showing passion that is under control. An enduring temper.
This is a separate Greek term than hupomone, which describes patience with our circumstances (for example, patience in trials in James 1:2-4). We won’t discuss hupomone today, but it seems like a really great Bible study for our current COVID lockdown!
It’s easy for me to think of patience as something that is passive – but it is an active battle to endure and get our passions and emotions under control. Patience is not something easily obtained. It takes active exertion and focused thought through the Holy Spirit.
Our patience starts with remembering God’s patience with us.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.Colossians 3:12-13
This verse really captures how God wants us to interact with each other: to clothe ourselves with these qualities. To “bear with” one another and forgive each other. The last line in this passage gives me a hint as to how we’re supposed to do this: forgive as Jesus forgave us.
Everything we do is motivated by Jesus and His sacrifice.
When we see clearly how Jesus forgave us and bears with us in our failings, it allows us to forgive and bear with others. If we perceive that we haven’t been forgiven for much, we don’t have a whole lot of motivation to be very forgiving to others. But when we understand that we were buried under an avalanche of sin – and would’ve died there – until Jesus dug us out, we will be much more gracious when someone throws a sin pebble our way. For more on this, I recommend studying out Matthew 18:21-35, the parable of the unmerciful servant as well as looking into Romans 2:1-4.
In many ways, patience and long-suffering are the result of humility. Paul exhorts us to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but with soberness.
Are you in touch with how much God has forgiven you of? Can you readily and easily bring to mind your former sins and how much you’ve been cleansed from? If not, it’s time to do some meditating.
Remember: they are human too.
Do we sometimes forget that our children (and husbands!) are fallen humans just like us? That they need grace and mercy just as much as we do? I’m guilty of this. I can sometimes expect Finn to be perfect and to “get it” right away. Sometimes I can think, He’s so smart, why doesn’t he understand this? Or I simply forget that he’s three years old and he’s going to do what three year olds do.
Lately we’ve emphasized the “Golden Rule” verse to Finn: Treat others the way you want to be treated (Luke 6:31). It’s easy to espouse that principle when you’re trying to get your child to share, but it’s harder when you’re applying it to yourself when your husband is zoned out and you’re buried underneath a pile of screaming children.
It really is a wonderful thing when someone sins against us, and we forgive them. Or they are frustrating us, and we give them patience. 1 Corinthians 13 defines love as patience, and that when we love others, we bear all things. This idea of “bearing all things” means that love endures. Love holds up, even when everything is crashing down.
This is beautiful. And it is from God.
If you need a little inspiration to bear up with your kiddos, maybe have a discussion with YOUR parents about how you were as a child. Let them tell you about your own horror stories. I’m sure there’s plenty of fodder to ignite some humility in you. Because we’re all human and we all need patience.
Accept God’s patience toward you.
Lastly, remember, mamas, that God has patience with us. With you. He is not easily angered, not quick tempered. He will not and does not chastise us unnecessarily for our mistakes. He bears with us in our shortcomings. Because, man, there are days when it’s ALL shortcomings. It seems like I can do nothing right. And those are the days when we can bask the most in God’s grace and patience with us.
When God passes in front of Moses in Exodus 34:6, He describes himself as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” And that is the same God who is beside us while we go through our days.
So when you snap at your spouse or child, or when you’re tempted to give in to your anger or emotions, remember that God is patient with you. He is not easily angered. His grace is plentiful and His love abounds. Remember that your husband and your children need you to bear up with their failings – just like God bears up with your failings!
Practicals for Patience:
- Know your triggers – be aware of what sets you off. What’s the toughest part of the day for you? For me, it’s nap time. And if I’m hungry and too tired, it’s way worse. If you’re like me and you know that you’re the worst version of yourself with you’re hungry, make sure you pack snacks with you when you go out. Don’t skip meals. Set yourself up for success. It also helps to share with those around you that you’re having a hard time. It diffuses some tension to say, “Hey guys, I’m just feeling on edge right now, please be patient with me.”
- Have a plan in place – this is so helpful for recurring behaviors that are hard to deal with in my kids. For example, Finn got into a bad habit of throwing himself on the floor when he wouldn’t get his way. It drove us crazy. So Tyler and I sat down and discussed what we would do about it. We got advice, prayed about it, and put a plan in place. Then, when Finn would throw himself on the floor, instead of getting frustrated or annoyed, I just followed the plan. It relieved a lot of frustration AND it helped break his habit! Double win.
- Take a break – don’t be afraid to tell your kids (or spouse) that you need a break in order to get your emotions under control. There have been times that I have told Finn, “mama needs a break” and just taken a few minutes to get myself together. It’s important that the break isn’t too long, or that it doesn’t turn into a punishment for your child/spouse instead of an actual stress-relieving break.
- Breathe and Pray – deep breathing gets that much-needed oxygen into your body, which helps promote calmness. And prayer is miraculous, and connects us with our powerful, patient God.
- Ask for forgiveness – if you snap at your spouse or child, apologize. This will help clear the air, and also sets a great example to your kids of how to react when you do something wrong.
- Ask for help – recruit your husband to help you through a challenging situation with your kids. Text a friend to pray for you. Figure out what help you need in order to set yourself up for success with your patience.
- Memorize a Bible verse – have a go-to verse that you can pray through or recite to yourself when you’re battling with patience. You can download some of my favorite verses below or head to the free printables section of the blog for other memory verses.
Here is a great video from Focus on the Family about knowing your triggers and finding patience: