The Spirit-Led Home: Patience
Let’s admit it. It is hard to be patient with others. It is difficult to endure the same mistake over and over again. It feels like drudgery to discipline for the same sin over and over again. It is disheartening to forgive multiple insults and thankless words that come from our children over… and… over... and…over…again.
We love it when others are patient with our mistakes, but we find it difficult to extend The Golden Rule to others, especially to those in our own homes. You know the situation...the three-year-old that takes 45 minutes to eat the 3 bites of food on his plate or the teenager who can’t decide which skirt to wear on Sunday morning making you late to church. There are countless situations throughout the day where you are waiting for people longer than seems reasonable; seemingly endless sins from the people who you live with.
Jesus, the Long-Suffering Servant
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that is given to us as a resource when we were born of the Spirit. Patience is also translated “long-suffering” with the idea of not always asserting our own rights.
Patience does not use premature force or retribution that rises from one’s personal reaction to an undesirable situation or sin against us. It is much like a rock who is hit over and over by the waves of the ocean. This is the same Spirit that led Jesus in his earthly life. How many times did Jesus have to address the unbelief of his disciples or the derogatory statements of the Pharisees? Jesus went before us in this as he walked this earth perfectly obeying the Father that we might have victory over every sin, including our impatience.
The Patient Parent
In the realm of parenting, we need patience in so many areas, but here are two big ones:
Development of Our Children’s Skills
As parents, we need to give room for improvements in areas that are not sin against God. Learning to put on shoes and tying shoelaces requires consistent attempts and retries under the direction of a patient parent. If the child still struggles after multiple attempts, then the parent should require a smaller component of the bigger task so the child can have success and receive praise while the more difficult parts have continued practice.
Time should be set aside to learn these skills and not be expected when hurrying to get out of the house!“Cleaning up” is a skill that needs to be taught, modeled, and supervised before a child can do it on his/her own. Ample time is necessary to learn new skills and not all children will learn a new skill in your perfect time frame. Remember that the brain of a two-year old doesn’t use logic like your adult mind. The gross motor skills of a one-year can be very messy. The signal from the brain to the bladder is a mysterious thing when potty training your child!
A child should not be disciplined for not obtaining a new skill, only refusing to try. Any time your child says, “no” to Mommy should result in an immediate consequence. And moms, please don’t practice skills or require new skills in public until they are well-practiced at home. This is an obvious trap for impatience and anger! Practicing a task at home is the key to success in public; but consistent practice at home takes patience and faithfulness with prayer.Recall the disciples who were adult men, when they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus did not respond harshly, sarcastically or demeaning. He gently answered “when you pray, say…”An agitated parent may say something like,
“Haven’t you seen me do it? Do it like I do.”
“I have showed you so many times”
“I have told you over and over again”
“How many times do I have to tell you?”
“Your brother does this so well. Why can’t you do it like he does?”
Unfortunately, we tend to treat others as if they can accomplish the same tasks in the same time frame with the same accuracy as we can or someone else’s child can. This is when we need to remind ourselves of God’s truth that each family member was “wove” in the womb and are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.Their lack is not lack in God’s eyes so why is it in ours?
2. Repeated Sins
It is true that we live with sinners. We will sin against those in our home and be sinned against each and every day. We, as moms, can renew ourselves with these thoughts:
If I am to parent as our Heavenly Father parents, then I must remember that God is patient every day. He withholds His just wrath from sinful mankind as they continue to dishonor Him and refuse to give thanks for who He is and what He has done.A perfect and holy God shows patience to sinful creatures. The sin of our children against us is far less egregious than our sin against God, yet we become harsh, and sarcastic and demeaning. Think of how patient God is with you who sin against Him so often.
Do you act surprised when your child sins? It is no surprise that children will sin against their parents as they pursue their selfish desires. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until my oldest child was in junior high that I began to see the degree of my impatience. My sweet husband would often remind me, “Tina, our child (whoever it was that day) did not wake up this morning and think, ‘How can I make Mom’s life miserable today. She wants what she wants and you are in the way of her getting it”.
As parents, we will get in the way of our children’s sinful pursuits. While we should use these opportunities for the gospel and appropriate discipline, we should not be surprised by them. Not only should we not be surprised by them but expect that it could and will most likely happen again. When it does, then it is another opportunity to speak the truth of God’s Word and the gospel into their lives.
Looking at Our Hearts
Why is it that we can act more harshly than God toward others? It is important to see the underlying motivations for our impatience
The Desire for Control over Our Schedule/Tasks
Do you believe that God is wise? Job 12:13 says, “With God are wisdom and might; He has counsel and understanding.” If this is true, then we must trust that God allows certain situations that will tempt us to impatience. When we are seeking to fill our own agenda, our own timeline, our own goals then we become agitated and disturbed. Impatience is a lack of trusting God for His plans rather than our own. Patience comes from trusting in the wisdom of God. When we understand that God is at work in our lives and in the lives of others, then it is much easier to be patient.
Interruption of Our Daily Comfort
Often times, children slow us down, make more messes and multiply noise. The process of training is messy and uneasy and bothers many of us. We just want the end product without the mess and discomfort of the process it takes. It was when I noticed this about myself that I began to memorize Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many”.
The Lord of the universe forsook His comfort to help others find spiritual life. If Jesus could give up so much, then can’t I patiently clean up another spill or stay up late to talk to my 16 year old who needs spiritual counsel? Because patience truly is a work of the Spirit of God in the life of a believer, then we must depend on God. We must pray for increased trust in Him and His plans. If I walk by the Spirit, I will not carry out the impatience in my heart. 
Questions to Ponder:
Do I want to discipline when my child is slow at learning a skill rather than disobedience?
Is my agenda the main reason why I am so impatient towards my children? Do I leave room in my schedule for bumps that may come along?
Do I faithfully train skills at home or do I expect my children to just “catch on” to life and then huffy when they are not performing to my expectations?
Do I display the same patience as my heavenly Father displays towards me? Do I look to Him and Christ as my examples?
Am I surprised/angry when my child sins against me?