I don’t have a lot of patience. I don’t wait well, and I don’t endure gracefully. I hear the words, “I don’t have patience for this!” come out of my mouth more times a day than I’d like.
Usually, a string of words that are not fit for this holy magazine follow. Guilt and her twin Shame are quick to rescue me, and Grace is pushed aside, useless in her comfort. I’d rather wallow in my self-pity.
I’m not worthy. I messed up again. Why don’t I have any patience? Why don’t you help me, God?
Also known as forbearance, or patient endurance, this is the fourth fruit of the spirit. Perhaps these fruits are listed in no particular order…or maybe they are.
I believe they’re connected. I have no Biblical evidence or documented research to back my theory. It’s just what I think. Don’t take my word. Test it for yourself. But here’s why I believe this:
If I’m lacking patience, another fruit is most likely missing.
Recently, my brand new coffeemaker decided to blow up pods, and I threw a hissy fit. The problem was I had company. Granted, it was family. Thank God. My mother laughed when she heard the string of profanity that followed and said I sounded just like my sister.
But I’m supposed to be the Christian—the one who sets the example for Christ-like behavior. And I messed up.
My husband came to my rescue and patiently (yes, I did use that word—he has what I lack) attempted to fix it. But it kept happening and each time it did, my anger grew. Everyone said they could live without coffee. It was a trivial thing, really. But it threw me.
Because I was exhausted. Because in my mind, I’d already failed at something earlier in the day, and I felt I failed again. Because everything in me has been off lately, and little things have been getting to me.
The joy I usually have has been missing, and I’m not sure where I left it. Peace like a river that I once experienced is attendeth-ing someone else’s way, making it well with their soul, while mine is struggling to understand just what’s going on. Sorrows like sea billows are rolling (although I’m not quite sure what sea billows are).
The thing about fruit is that you usually don’t see just one apple on a tree, one cluster of grapes on a vine, one berry on a bush. If you do…well, it’s probably not a healthy source of fruit.
If joy and peace are not active and low-hanging fruit, patience will be hard to attain. See, they’re all connected.
But there’s one fruit that comes before them and is the foundation for all other fruit.
And I still have that. I may not act very loving right now, but I desperately cling to the love God offers me, knowing that even when I reject His offer of peace, joy, and patience, even when sorrows like sea billows are rolling through my life…it is still well with my soul. Love never ends, and is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:8 & 4).
He’s a very patient God. I wish I were as patient with myself as He is with me. But as I live by the Spirit, I do my best to keep in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25).
I do my best. The desires of the flesh are constantly at war with the desires of the Spirit, and the flesh too often wins. I can allow guilt and shame to move in with me, or I can accept the grace God offers and move on.
I cannot exhibit patience unless I accept the love of God that is patient with me. And so, I will wait. I will patiently endure the dark night of the soul, knowing that God’s got this.
And I thank Him that the fruit of the Spirit never dries up—it’s always there, ripe and fresh. Kind of like God’s mercies—new every morning. Patient, loving, and kind.
Mary Dolan Flaherty is a quirky gal who loves to encourage people and make them laugh. She writes and speaks with self-deprecating humor and transparency, saying what most people think but won’t admit. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, whom she affectionately calls Hubbles, and has two grown children and two grand-dogs. Mary enjoys hiking, theatre, music, gardening, and traveling and can be found blogging at SonRiseInsights.blogspot.com.