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Thursday, January 17, 2013

“Lord, please teach me patience, and RIGHT NOW!”

Yeah, we laugh at this funny prayer for patience, but it’s actually pretty close to how we often seek patience, isn’t it?

So often we think of patience as something to fight through, as if it’s trial by fire. Patience is often viewed negatively, but I have another view of patience that is altogether different.

This is part six in my series, “Dress for Success.” (It started back here if you need to catch up.) We are looking at the kinds of things you can choose to “put on” that will bless your marriage. These are the new clothes of the new you – as a new creation in Christ.
You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with…patience
(Col 3:9-12NIV)

A whole new take on patience

In our modern, rush-about, instant-everything world, patience is not very highly valued and little pursued. Sure, we try to have patience for things that get in our way or slow our pace. We strive not to be impatient with a spouse who isn’t pulling their weight or giving us what we think we deserve. We wait in queues, straining to see what in the world the hold up in front of us is.

But what if we were to turn our view of patience on its head? What if patience were to be more than passive acquiescence to our circumstances? What if we got a whole new way to look at it? Try this:

Patience: waiting with the hopeful anticipation of and joyful longing for the future.

I realize putting hope and joy together with patience is a little radical. But stick with me.

Patience in Your Marriage

Keep in mind that patience is a fruit of the Spirit and an important Kingdom principle. Patience is available to every believer who would choose to consciously put it on.

In your marriage, when you go through the normal ups and downs of life, you can put on patience with yourself and your spouse.  If you eagerly anticipate more of whatever it is you lack in your marriage instead of grumbling to yourself and just waiting it out, you’ll find that times of waiting can actually be joyful.

No kidding.

Enjoy the Preparation Time

My wife is a tea person, so in her honor I’ll go with the tea analogy. (I’m strictly a coffee drinker myself, but I've made enough tea in my life to know the ins and outs.)  In order to enjoy an excellent, delicious cup of tea, you have to prepare it properly.  Consider two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Boring, Impatient Tea – Dump some tap water into the closest available mug, slap it into the microwave to get it hot, all the while drumming your fingers on the counter top as you watch the timer tick down.  At the beep, dunk in a teabag enough to darken the water. Then drink.

Scenario 2: Tea with Joyful Anticipation – Get some good filtered water and fill the tea kettle. Turn on the heat while you look over your selection of fine teas, imagining the taste of each, and select just the right one for your mood or food. Pick a fine china tea cup from your collection, open the tea pouch and take a delicious whiff before setting the bag into the cup. You hear the water begin rolling, but you know a full boil is required for proper tea, so you wait the extra ten seconds for the pot to whistle loudly. Now you are close. You can almost taste it already as you gently pour the boiling water into the cup with the bag. But it’s still not quite time. You have to let it steep until a full rich color emerges in the cup. Almost there. Now add a dash of sugar and a bit of milk, all to your precise liking, and give it a gentle stir. The aroma is rising from the cup now, and you are eager, but you need one more minute to let it cool just a bit (but not too much) to the perfect drinking temperature.

Honestly, whether your drink tea or not, which tea do you think tastes better? Which will be enjoyed more?

It’s not all that different in the seasons of waiting and wanting in your marriage. Think if these as preparation times – times to enjoy the process of growing your marriage into all it can be and zealously anticipating the day of fulfillment.

5 Ways to Let Your Marriage Steep

There are a few things you can do to help turn your seasons of patience from a necessary evil into a hopeful longing and joyful anticipation.  Here are a few I came up with:
  1. Realize that God is FOR your marriage. Not just marriage in general, but your particular marriage. His desire it to see it be all it can be in the realms of intimacy, passion and fulfillment. He is more than able to do it.
  2. Be thankful for all you do have. Whatever you focus on will grow. Concentrate on the good, downplay the bad. Deliberately shift your focus.
  3. Be open to change. It might be that even though you are waiting on your husband or wife to change, God may want to work a change in you too (or maybe instead).
  4. Give yourself generously. Our tendency during times of lack from our spouse is to withdraw and withhold until we get what we want. This tact never works. In fact, it puts your marriage in a downward spiral that I call the Path of Separation. Instead, give yourself unselfishly in the way your spouse desires, without expectation of getting in return.
  5. Pray and worship. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus instead of the problem at hand. It’s amazing how small difficulties can become in the light of who God is. Enjoy him, enjoy his presence, and hear his heart for you and your marriage. Ask him what he wants of you in this season of waiting. Hearing his voice changes everything.

My list is just a starting point. I’d love to hear your ideas. How do you deal with the seasons in your marriage that require patience? What tips can you give my readers on fostering joyful anticipation?Leave a comment.

Photo credit: lubastock / 
Next in the series: Put on Grace

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Lori @ said...

HAH. Just boiled water for my hubby's cup of tea!

We go even a few steps further by using a tea pot and warm water to heat the pot (then discarded) before pouring the boiling water over the tea. If my mother-in-law were here, we'd wait a precise 3 minutes before removing the tea... (Now you know MUCH more than you'd ever want to about how we make tea in our house. Sorry.)

Back to your question: What else would I add to a season of waiting?

I'd surround myself with supportive people. Those who can see the season, understand it, and perhaps who have even gone through it themselves. It would be so empowering to pray WITH these people. And if I couldn't find anyone nearby/alive who fits that description, I'd search for biographies of others who were great examples of Godly patience. Mentors. (either in person or via their life's example)

Great series - love it! :-)

Scott said...

Lori - Thanks so much for sharing. You are so right about needing to gather supportive, encouraging people around you! Great addition.

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