We teach our kids about patience almost everyday. Go ahead, ask them. And if you do, you will hear them recite our family definition of patience: “Waiting for something you want without crying, complaining or getting angry.” From our oldest to the young toddler, they all know the definition.
But what happens when mom or dad are not patient?
What happens when we cry, complain or get angry while we are waiting on something? We need to learn a lesson in patience. As some of you recall, we had some major complications with our latest pregnancy.
Why am I saying we? I mean, she. If I could take away the pain from her, I would do it immediately.
But there she was, sitting up all night, wincing with each movement, mumbling and praying for an answer. If I was awake and I actually heard her, I would roll over and place my hand on her shoulder. I whispered, “What can I do?”
The silence told me nothing.
Exhaustion turned to frustration, which turned to anger. I was whining, complaining and getting angry on the inside. Every now and then it creeps out of my lips. And I am reminded of my kids’ lesson on patience.
That sounds like good advice for a child wanting to tell you about their day the second you arrive home from work. It can buy you a few more minutes until (or even postpone) the evening story because you are simply too tired. Have you been there? What can you do to find your own patience?
- Time out. Not in the “punishment” manner, but in the “set yourself aside” and take a break from your circumstances. Perhaps you need the “time out” as you pull your car into the driveway after a long day of work. Perhaps you need the “time out” as the kids are whining about how hungry they are just before the meal is placed on the table. No matter the circumstances, take a “time out” from the circumstance.
- Meditate or pray. In his pain, King David was crying to the Lord with his voice?, and He answered from His holy mountain. Do you know what happened next? David said, “I laid down and slept. I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” (Ps 3:4-5) David could have had sleepless nights, but in his rebellion he slept peacefully because he prayed to the Lord, and those prayers were answered.
- Substitute your wait. Accept the fact that patience requires a time of waiting. If you expect, plan and prepare for that time of waiting, you can begin to avoid the onset of complaints or anger. For my wife during the evening, it means offering the children an alternative to whining as they wait for dinner, such as: “Sweetie, I want you think of the story you are going to share with the family during dinner time. That will give Mommy time to finish preparing the food.” The same goes for us.
Question: When are you most impatient? What do you do to find comfort?