Jason and I have been writing a weekly shared blog for about a month now. Topics have come easily as we take turns choosing and starting. It’s my turn. I’ve tried to wait for the perfect prompt to pop into my head. I’m tired of waiting. I’m no good at waiting. Just yesterday I burned my tongue on pizza though I knew it needed to cool. Waiting would be one of my shortcomings. So here it is. On this topic, I’m the subject and Jason is the voice. We’re talking about impatience.
I’ve been impatiently trying to get Kristi to start this blog all week-long. The irony is, when she finally did get it started, I made her wait half a day before I contributed anything to it.
I think we both have our areas of patience and impatience. She has more patience with people and I have more patience with things. You should see her when the computer freezes up. I’m usually not there beside her when it happens but I can hear it from the other side of the house. It’s not a scream, per se, but rather a sigh from the pit of her technologically frustrated soul that fills the air with angst. You won't hear that kind of sigh when she’s teaching, though. She seems to have the longsuffering of Job when it comes to kids.
I think in both of our cases, impatience leads to unnecessary frustration. We get too easily bent out of shape over things we cannot control. In every case, when we let the things around us start yanking our inner chains, we find ourselves stumbling down a defeated path.
Impatience always finds an excuse to act.
That was Jason's response the last time I was explaining to him why I was doing something in a hasty fashion. I believe it may have been a blog post. I felt passionately about what I was saying. I was determined that if I didn't post at that moment, that there was no use in posting it all. Impatience is akin to impulsivity. The nice word that I use for my acting upon my inner urging is spontaneous.
Passionate. Determined. Spontaneous. Those are good qualities. But acting with no regard to timing can be disastrous. Ninety percent of the time, maybe you've noticed, my posts contain glaring errors because I was in such a state of hurry. I skip steps and misstep when cooking and cleaning not to mention other daily activities.
Being impatient can also be characterized as being graceless. I have family members who experience mild but frequent road rage. I have a touch of it now and then. Impatience doesn't just mean that I have to do what I want to do NOW. It also demands that others do what I want them to do with urgency. Though I refrain from honking I have little grace when someone doesn't instantaneously notice that the light is green. Afterall I have places I need to be.
We are going to lose our patience. It’s not a matter of IF it’s going to happen, it’s a matter of WHEN. What can you do when your feel your patience running out?
Breathe—You cannot always control the things going on around you, but you can control some of the things that are going on within you. Our psychological state affects our physiological state and vice versa. When we get anxious our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, and a myriad of other physical consequences of impatience start to appear. If we focus on what we can control physically, it will help with what is out of control psychologically. When we choose to breathe deeply, and slowly, it helps calms us to the point where we can make rational decisions rather than impulsive ones. This works for dealing with irritable computers and adorable children.
Find Your Valuables—I’m not talking about the rings and the gold. I’m talking about your inner compass; that basket of beliefs you hold near and dear to your heart that helps direct your life. When we get impatient, sometimes we make impulsive decisions that run roughshod over our highest beliefs and ideals. It’s always good to have a short mental list of those values and beliefs that help determine our decisions. Referring to these core values will help keep you from doing anything in your impatience that you will later regret.
Patience Building Practices—Every one of us, whether we consider ourselves a patient person or not, has a limited capacity for being patient. At some point everyone’s patience will run out. It might take 10 computer crashes, 4 bad drivers cutting you off, and 27 screaming kids, but it will happen. The good news is that we can increase our capacity for patience. Consider these patience building practices:
- Sleep. I tell Hayden, “A good day starts the night before.” If you are starting out your day tired and frazzled, impatience will be only one thing on a long list of things that make your day go badly. Each morning that you wake up after a good night’s rest, you have a renewed capacity to endure those things that make you impatient. Insuring a good night’s sleep helps to ensure a good day’s supply of patience.
- Pray. To improve patience, you need to practice trust. We feel anxious and impatient when we feel that life is spinning out of control. Prayer is practiced trust. We pray to God who is unseen about things that we cannot control. We trust that His power is great and that His will is good. By placing our trust in God we reap the benefit of being able to patiently wait on the Lord to work His will in our world. If you are not in the habit of prayer consider using the Lord’s prayer as a model for constructing you own, heartfelt prayers to God. In the Lord’s prayer you are praying for daily provision (both spiritual and physical), personal shortcomings and the shortcomings of others, temptations we suffer, and about the presence of evil. If you can’t categorize your impatience under one or more of these categories, you might have bigger troubles than what I can help you with.
- Read. When we start our day off with scripture, we reinforce the values that help direct our steps. Not only does the study of scripture help reinforce our values, but the regular study of scripture helps us refine those values. When we are dealing with the Bible, we are not dealing with pie-in-the-sky idealism but down to earth spirituality. As God’s story becomes our story, the values present in God’s book become the values exhibited in our lives.
What causes you to lose your patience?
What do you do to regain it?
Check out Jason's blog- www.pastorburden.com
I'd love to hear from you. My email- firstname.lastname@example.org