By Niki Turner
The last few months have stretched my patience. I've been a lady-in-waiting. A lot.
Waiting to hear back on a submission, waiting to hear from an editor, waiting for an order, waiting for a doctor's appointment, waiting for hubby to make a decision, waiting for household tasks to be completed, waiting on other people for feedback on a work project. Lots and lots of waiting.
Waiting is hard on us humans. No matter what we're waiting on, or waiting for, the waiting period is challenging. I don't think God designed us to wait... I think waiting came after the fall of man. (Well, it is possible that Eve was waiting on Adam, who was taking yet another nap. She got annoyed, and that's how she ended up talking to that serpent, but that's just the speculation of one who has been married for a long time.)
We're all going to have to spend a portion of our lives waiting, in a holding pattern, biding our time. How we handle those seasons will have an impact on our personal happiness, on our witness for Christ in the earth, and on our relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. So what's the answer to waiting, since no one likes to wait?
It's that "P" word: Patience.
The word "patience" as used in the Bible refers to maintaining the same countenance or attitude, regardless of external circumstances, to enduring discomfort without complaint. In other words, when your toddler is whining and clinging to your leg, telling him or her to "be patient" is like telling him or her to continue doing exactly what he/she is doing.
Patience is listed in Paul's letter to the Galatians as a fruit of the spirit, following love, joy, and peace. I'm convinced patience is supposed to help us maintain love, joy, and peace, but very often, when we tell ourselves to be patient, instead of being in a place of love, joy, and peace.
In our instantaneous world, waiting is more annoying than ever. I don't want to wait for a package to be delivered, I want it 3D printed into my house at the push of a button. I don't want to wait for my body to heal, I want to feel better instantly. I don't want to wait for other people to pick up the mantle of responsibility and mow the lawn, I want to take over and do it myself. (Which leads to blisters, BTW.)
Patience is the ability to wait for something we want or need, without complaint, without letting negativity, whining, fear, manipulation, and distress creep in. Truthfully? I think patience is one of the greatest indicators of our trust and faith in God.
It's much better to sit back and yield to the fruit of patience, trusting God with my life, my email, my mail, my chores, and the height of the grass in the front yard. Why? Because, as the psalmist tells us...
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret--it only causes harm. (Psalm 37:8)Seriously, if I'm fretting about a package not arriving on time, is there anything at all that I can accomplish by worrying? Nope. All I've done is cause harm.
It's easier said than done, but perhaps the next time you find yourself playing the waiting game, and getting agitated and losing sleep and worrying the situation, you'll remember to step back and yield to the Holy Spirit's fruit of patience. I'm working on it.
What tools do you apply to your life when you're waiting on something or someone?