Tuesday, August 30, 2011

on patience

I heard something interesting last night. Patience, a friend read, is serenity in the face of affliction.

If this is patience, I am not patient.

That's not the same as waiting your turn, right? Or not saying what you feel like saying every time you want to say it? I can handle both of those. I can breathe through children fumbling with shoes or stopping to pick a weed before getting into the car. I can even be late because someone had to go potty (or wet their pants in the car seat. Always always). But none of that, really, is what it means to be patient.

It's been a hard summer. The hardest on record, in my estimation, though that summer I was pregnant with Asher and living in my parents' guest room, uncertain of what direction my life was about to take, was comparable. A string of illnesses (including two stomach viruses in a week, and then tonight complaints of a tummy ache, to which I say, "Get thee behind me vomit"), conflict with a friend, tension with family, strain in our home. Feeling called to do something, and having absolutely no way of knowing if, when, or how it will happen. Knowing the present is drawing to a close, not knowing what is coming next.

I would love to tell you I've been serene in the face all of all of this, but just the thought is laughable. I've stomped my foot through the entire summer. I've rolled my eyes, holed up, retreated, yelled back, complained (then complained some more). I've been a lot of things this summer; serene has not been one of them.

But I find comfort in the verses on hardship (though part of me has a hard time acknowledging any of this as true hardship, when children are dying right now - right now! - of hunger and thirst. In light of that, what exactly is my problem? Still, hardship is relative, and compared to the unimaginable ease of my life, this summer has been harder than others). Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature, James says. Hebrews says to endure hardship as discipline. This, in particular, is encouraging. Discipline, not punishment. Discipline is intended to teach, to shape behavior and, ultimately, character. This is what God is doing in me.

So, no, I'm not serene in the face of affliction. Not even close. But I'm hopeful, because this thing isn't over yet. Maybe, by the time boxes are unpacked and relationships are righted, I will know a little more about perseverance. Maybe I will see the fruit of maturity, and will be less likely to yell back in the future. Who knows - by the time we see the other side of this thing, I might even learn to be patient.

Lord, may it be so.


Kendra said...


Madame Rubies said...

Usually, I am serene in the face of the bad stuff. But, I have less serenity in dealing with the little stuff. Maybe I need to learn to let God help me through the little stuff instead of waiting for the big stuff to call on him.