Love. If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I was pondering the idea of love the other day. We may think we know what love is…but for me, I had a deep desire to really study and sift through the love chapter characteristic by characteristic. When we define things by our standards, we lose sight of God’s standard.
And we lose love. We lose the very identity that the Word says we will be known: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.“ (John 13:35) If we are honest, we are each likely to be guilty of not living up to that one. But I want to encourage you: it is never too late.
Over the next several weeks, I will be studying 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…the love chapter. What better way to learn how we can be loving people than by the Word of God? And if we are honest with ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to do a gentle work in us, we can grow and learn to be like Jesus…who is like God…who is love.
Love is Patient.
Well, I’m already losing straight out the gate on this one. Holy Spirit, be gentle. The first descriptor of love is patience. Ahhh patience. Have you ever prayed the ironic prayer, “God grant be patience, and quick!”? I sure have! On those days that the kids push all my buttons…on those days that the bills seem to multiply like bunnies…on those days when it seems I’ve been waiting on an answer to a prayer for-ev-errrr…on those days when I wish I were more thin, kind, gentle, godly, healthy, etc….I anxiously wait for a solution. I ask God why things are hard or taking more time than I like. And I am not practicing patience.
What is patience??
The definition of patience is: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Or, as we say to our kiddos, patience is waiting with a smile. Oh boy. Hello, conviction. Love is patient. Love tolerates delay. Love accepts trouble. Love endures suffering. And here is the key: without getting angry or upset.
Would you please hurry up and put your shoes on??
How long will it be before my marriage gets better?
When will the dreams of my heart ever come to pass?
When will it feel like I’m more than a mom, wife, project manager, administrative assistant, daughter, etc.?
Each week, we will examine how this concept applies to three areas: our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves. The idea behind this is to help you to explore how you can explore and apply this concept to all areas of life. They will know we are Christians…how will they know? They will see it. And they will see it when we are living it wholly in our lives.
How can we apply this to our relationship with: God?
This last year was a scary and incredibly hard year for our family. My husband suffered from a horrible vitamin allergy that expressed itself through quarter size, itchy, cracking hives from his neck down to his ankles. It was awful. He was suffering, I was suffering seeing him miserable, and it took three months of this agony to finally figure out what it was. A month after he finally started healing, my 3 year old son was in the ICU after enduring three seizures in two hours. We ran countless tests. Tubes and wires surrounded his groggy body as I sat on the sidelines….waiting. We could walk through more stories, and I’m sure you could add significantly to the pile as well.
We can learn patience when we accept the idea of waiting. I know, its hard. It feels impossible. To be honest, it can feel like downright agony. But what is the root of that difficulty? Do we trust God? Do we believe Him when He says He will provide for our every need? Do we believe He hears our prayers? If we trust Him, do we give him our experience, our heart, in the midst of it? Examine your relationship with God. What does your waiting look like in light of what you find? How can you learn to trust God and in turn, be patient in your relationship with Him?
How can we apply this to our relationship with: others?
Boy is this one going to be hard. Yeah? Okay, so I am not a very patient person when it comes to others. I will just be honest and confess right now. When my kids don’t do what I ask the first time I ask…when I have to do a group project with people I don’t know and they end up not doing things as quickly or efficiently as I want…when people don’t see their own actions…the list could go on.
So how can we apply patience to our relationships with others? Well, first, lets all learn one valuable and important skill: take a deep breath. It may seem silly, but you can activate your internal calming system inside by taking 2-3 deep breaths through your diaphragm. Truly. So there’s the first step. 🙂 Second, we must choose. We will not always feel patience towards others (or any of these three areas, to be honest), but we can practice patience when we look at them, decide to see the worth God places on them, and then choose to be patient. Then we can look deeper: what is causing me to be so impatient right now? What meaning does this hold? What do I feel is personally being threatened by the other person’s actions? When we learn about ourselves and choose to be informed by our emotions, we can make choices that reflect a healthier mindset rather than reacting out of our hurt, frustration, or pain.
How can we apply this to our relationship with: ourselves?
This piggybacks off of the last one, but when we are curious about ourselves and what our emotions are telling us, we can learn about our own growth areas. Deep down, I believe negative attitudes towards ourselves reflect a lack of self-worth. We don’t understand our value in Christ. And when we don’t understand our value in Christ, we find it elsewhere. Or we feel that our personal qualities are a measure of our value. I am not a very patient person. I am not as nice as she is. If I were more this, then I might be more godly. We do it subconsciously. Its not always a comparison trap; it often is simply a devaluing feeling based on characteristics we don’t like about ourselves.
When we learn our value in Christ, we can then learn to be patient with our shortcomings, our struggles, and even areas we’d like to grow in.
I hope this blessed you today. Writing it has surely blessed my heart and allowed me to take a good look at myself. Let me know in the comments below any thoughts or questions you might have. Share your story. Lets get to know one another. 🙂