It’s a dangerous thing to pray for patience. Because God will send you situations in which you have no choice but to develop your patience. I’d rather be instantly infused with vast internal reservoirs of patience. Or have no more need for patience because every annoying life situation has been miraculously resolved.
But that’s kind of the opposite of how He works, so I’ve always been afraid to pray for patience.
But this is my husband’s busy time of year. He’s been away for a few weeks, and will be for the rest of the month. I find my patience wearing thin.
Four high-pitched little voices all clamour constantly for my attention with no one else to run interference. Six little feet batter hither and thither across the floorboards — how do such small bodies make such catastrophic noise! My field of vision is filled with small little bodies jumping off the furniture, or stumbling and tripping over the mountain of laundry that seems to be growing as we all run out of underpants.
I am worn out carrying fifteen pounds of baby almost constantly in my arms with no one to pass her off to. And while I can keep smiling and schooling all through the day, by bedtime I turn into a cranky, crotchety old battleax. I just do not want to hear one more pitter-patter, not one more “Mama.” I want some peace, now go to sleep!
And I have been frustrated with myself for not displaying better fruit of the spirit to my children. So, against my better judgement, I have started to pray for patience.
And wouldn’t you know, it’s been nothing like I feared. I think I half-expected to have all Job’s troubles come crashing down upon me from the heavens. But God has been so gentle. Last week, He kept gently nudging me in the way I should go, and changing my natural inclinations.
In the middle of a lesson with Encyclopedia, little Safari came interrupting. “Will you read this to me?” Now, Safari’s reading lesson was coming up next (he’s just beginning phonics instruction), so normally, I would have told him to wait ten minutes, and then we would do the book together for his reading lesson. Couldn’t he see that I am in the middle of something? But for whatever reason, I thought, “Oh, no big deal. If he’s interested in reading now, let’s strike while the iron is hot.” I put down Encyclopedia’s text, and the three of us cuddled up with Safari’s little book. And it was really nice.
I know it sounds like a small thing, and that’s the beauty of it — it is a small thing! God is teaching me patience in the small things.
This happened many times throughout the week — someone would come to me demanding something, and instead of putting them off until they fit into my schedule, I would just go with the flow. And every time, it caught me by surprise. Because that’s really not my personality. I march, I don’t flow!
At one point, Shiny Boots came crying to me when I was taking something out of the oven. (No not cookies, frozen pizza.) “Mamamamama! I wanna dwinga wada!” (If you can translate this, you must have a 2-year-old.)
My usual reaction is “Out out out! Hot hot hot!” Not to be mean, just that I get frazzled when a 2-year-old is next to an open oven.
But this time, I simply closed up the oven, calm as you please, and got her a dwinga wada.
Definitely God’s work.
And it lasted all last week. I was just moving to a different, looser rhythm than my usual staccato drum.
Now. This week is different. It’s almost like God showed me what I need to do, and now I need to do it. What came easy last week has been a struggle this week, but at least I have the answer. I know what to do, it’s just not my first instinct. But with God’s grace, I will continue to grow in this work that He has begun in me.
It’s just amazing to me how His answers come in such simple, subtle ways that I could miss them if I didn’t have my eyes open.