Soon after we got married, my husband told me that I was the most impatient person he’d ever met. I think it had something to do with me wanting to move our furniture around at two o’clock in the morning, because I’d had a great idea for how to better use our space. We both laughed – and then I think we moved the furniture around. But his comment made an impression, and I recognized the truth in it.
Soon after, I began asking for patience. Throughout the day, I would say, “Lord, teach me patience.” I was told by friends and family that I shouldn’t ask for patience, because it would make my life much more difficult. I wasn’t afraid…but they were absolutely right.
The next 8 or so years were a series of struggles which seemed designed to test my limits – from losing our house due to our daughter’s premature birth and our inadequate health insurance, to living with his relatives, then mine, selling all our possessions and moving cross-country and back twice, and the stigma from our families when we not only chose to parent and educate our daughter in a non-traditional manner, but also left the Christian faith that so defines them, to my many failings as I try to be a kinder, gentler parent to my daughter than my parents were to me.
No matter the cost, no matter the struggle, I’m glad that I asked to learn patience, because in the process I’ve learned that impatience, control, and anger are all linked. Impatience is really about a lack of control over external circumstances. It’s like a combination of anger and worry. None of those do anything to help your situation, they only leave you less peaceful.
There are a few sayings that I repeat to myself now whenever I feel impatience, worry, or anger rising in me.
“This, too, shall pass,” helps with any situation that has the potential to overwhelm me. Life is dynamic, every situation eventually changes, and this one will too.
“It’s just _______,” (insert any object in the blank.) I’m learning to overcome my anger when it comes to accidents of all kinds – my parents had little patience with “messy” and “careless” children. It helps to actually think of the value of whatever’s in that blank compared to the value of the person who did “x” to it. This has been a life-changer, because my daughter no longer looks at me with fear in her eyes if she spills a drink or breaks a toy.
“Everything is as it should be,” is a reminder to live in the moment. This moment is what it is, nothing I can think or do will change this moment, so it must be as it was meant to be. This thought never fails to bring a smile to my lips and peace to my heart. It’s a reminder to stop and think about all of the wonderful things that are in my life at this moment. It’s an opportunity to take a deep breath of life and to breathe out a prayer of gratitude.
The past 8 years have been the most difficult of my life, because I’ve continuously been challenged to look inside myself and recognize the areas that need to change so that I will become more patient. But I wouldn’t change any part of that journey. It has not only taught me patience; it has taught me gratitude and peace, that anger is unnecessary, and that I need not worry about anything, for all things are as they should be.