Focus for May = PATIENCE
My goal for May was to become a more patient person [persevering and enduring unexpected situations with grace and peace] by allowing people and cars ahead of me, not getting upset about messes in the home, not getting upset at John when he made me wait, and striving to finish the Run for Jesus in under 22 minutes. I used a calendar to keep track of my daily progress.
1. Faith- (I) Memorize and meditate upon 3 appropriate verses about patience per week; (II) Ask God daily to increase my patience, and (III) Write down my current struggles and submit them to God.
(I) Well, I think I improved on memorizing Scripture this past month over last month. I still missed 12 days out of 31 this past month, but I persevered!
(II) I did ask God daily for an increase in patience… and He gave me plenty of opportunities to practice (see the What I Learned section)!
(III) I never did write down my struggles, but I definitely poured out my heart to God several times this past month verbally and through silent prayer (and sometimes tears). He definitely showed me patience this past month!
2. Marriage– (I) Be patient with John by not snapping or getting upset at him when he fails to listen or makes me wait at the dinner table.
(I) I think I did a pretty good job with this. There were at least two times that I recall being impatient with him, but the Holy Spirit revealed to me many times opportunities I was being given to choose to show my husband grace… and He helped me follow through with a godly response.
3. Health- (I) Practice perseverance by pushing myself in training for and finishing the Run for Jesus 5K race in under 22 minutes.
(I) Well, I definitely trained hard for the race (probably too hard the week of). In addition to running 6 days a week, my husband and I started a BeachBody workout routine together. But I think I tired myself out too much the week before, as my legs felt really tight throughout the 5K. I did not end up meeting my goal of finishing under 22 minutes.. I did it in 23:07. I was disappointed in myself at first, especially since I think I was faster last year, but since May’s focus was patience, I extended grace to myself. Now, I’m on to much bigger things: training for a marathon which will take place on November 5th!
4. Homemaking- (I) Be patient with messes in the home by not stressing over them and (II) Practice perseverance by not complaining about housework.
(I) Many of you are looking at this goal and thinking, “Why in the world did she want to do that?” Well, if you ask my husband he’ll tell you there have been plenty of times I couldn’t relax at night or go to bed until I had tidied up the downstairs (or at least the kitchen). So, I decided to show a little patience to some slight messes rather than stressing over them this past month. And I did well. It was actually quite freeing to show myself grace in this area.
(II) There were a few times I complained in my mind, but I did well with not voicing my complaints. There was one day when I told my co-worker I didn’t mind doing dishes at work but dreaded going home and doing my own, however.
5. Interactions– (I) Practice patience by putting somebody else’s needs before my own daily, including not interrupting people.
(I) I think I did fairly well with this, though there were definitely times I could have done better. Many times I found myself thinking after the fact, “Oh, that could’ve been an opportunity to let someone ahead of me.” But there were other times when I let several cars pull out in front of me in busy traffic. There’s definitely room for growth in this area, still.
WHAT I LEARNED THIS MONTH
Many years ago I watched the movie Evan Almighty. There is a line in that movie that has stuck with me ever since: “Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?“ At first hearing this made me weary about asking God to give me patience any longer because the last thing I wanted was to be put in situations where I’d need even more patience! But this month I prayed every single day for an increase in patience and God certainly answered by giving me an abundance of opportunities to practice this Fruit.
In our time-driven culture, patience seems to be in short supply among the U.S. population. We are so used to instant gratification with our drive-thru fast food, high-speed Internet, one-day shipping, Smart Phone texting, and microwave dinners. The word wait is not popular in our fast-paced culture. And the phrase, “Be patient,” seems to be a phrase we throw at our toddlers yet fail to practice ourselves. And like everybody else, I too struggle with patience.
There are four specific areas I perceived to be particularly troublesome this past month.
The first area in which I struggled with patience this past month was traffic. Okay, it wasn’t just this past month… I admit I don’t like when drivers go under the speed limit, when pedestrians take their sweet time walking across a crosswalk, when the driver in front of me fails to pay attention when the light has turned green, when I have to drive through construction or accidents, when I hit nearly every stoplight while driving through the city… ANY DAY OF THE YEAR. Can you relate?
Phew. Looking back over what I just wrote… I have A LOT of pet-peeves in the area of driving. Or perhaps I should call them “opportunities to practice patience.” I caught myself several times this past month grumbling under my breath about the various circumstances I just outlined above. But does it help to complain or get upset about these things?
What if instead of getting worked up about them, we used the time at every stoplight to pray for the people in the cars beside, behind, or in front of us? What if we extended the same grace to slow drivers or walkers that we extend to ourselves unconsciously? And what if, instead of being in a hurry all the time, we left 5 minutes earlier to get to work or to the grocery store or anywhere else we needed to go so that these situations wouldn’t cause stress? This last one was a real eye-opener for me. God revealed to me that the majority of my impatience would cease if I wasn’t constantly running late all the time or just in a hurry to get places in general.
The second area in which patience was an issue was in regard to my health. As many of you know, I have been chronically ill since June of 2009. I was misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis for 2 years until I got tested by IGeneX for Lyme Disease and started on antibiotics in June of 2011. Five years later I am still driving 2.5hrs one way nearly every month to receive treatment for my chronic Lyme. I’ve made HUGE strides and am convinced that I am currently in remission, but there were several times this past month when I experienced unexplained joint pain, causing me to doubt whether I’d ever truly be fully well. This led to a couple tearful breakdowns (one right before lunch on a Sunday afternoon that my poor husband had to endure).
So, when I make the trek to my appointment with my Specialist this past month I told him I wanted to go off my medication. When he asked me why I responded, “It’s been five years…” He quickly retorted that length of treatment is not the determining factor for when a patient is well. So after explaining the possible consequences of stopping my medication at this point in time he gave me two options: 1) Start the spring/summer meds or 2) Cease treatment and risk relapse. With a big sigh I gave a mumbled, dejected reply, “I guess I’ll start the spring and summer meds…” I felt like God was telling me, “Patience, child. Your timing is not my timing. I have a plan.”
The third area I experienced a lack of patience in is linked to my health situation. I desire to start a family. John and I have gone to great lengths to avoid conception these past 5 years of marriage. The first couple years (maybe even the third) were almost easy because married life was so new and we greatly enjoyed having just the two of us. But the older I get, the more difficult it is for me to wait.
Since October of 2015, six babies have been added to my Church family. Six babies in 8 months… One of them was my sister’s third child. On top of that, I have four friends who are currently expecting. I have felt God’s overwhelming peace many times when struggling with this issue and have confidence that He’s promised me I will have a family some day. It’s the unknown “some day” that I have trouble with. Hence, another lesson in patience. I’ve asked God many times, “How long, Oh Lord? When will it be my turn?” But because I know He is good and that He never withholds good from those who walk uprightly and that He fulfills the desires of those who delight in Him, I can continue to trust that His timing is perfect.
Finally, the fourth area that I have had to practice patience in has been my physique. As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I started an intense eight-week workout program together the second week of May. It’s been nearly 4 weeks and I still haven’t gained a single pound of muscle. What’s more frustrating is the fact I can literally see my husband developing a six pack while there are no such signs on my own body, despite the fact I do an additional 10 minute ab workout every morning!
Patience. Every area of life requires it, doesn’t it?
Lord, help me not to check patience off my list as though one month of practicing it is enough. Let me continue to press on, to face every situation you send my way patiently. Allow me to be still and wait upon You. In Jesus’ Name.
What has been your experience with patience (or lack-there-of)?