Thurs., Jan. 10, 2019
Job 21:4 – Are my complaints against another human; why is my patience short?
I have a standing weekly appointment with a 5th grader. His name is Isaac. On Wednesday mornings, Isaac and I spent about 45 minutes together. At least part of the time together, we work on some project related to Isaac’s schooling: math, writing or reading. Lately, we have been working through a cursive book.
This week, we reviewed a couple stories that Isaac had written. His teacher encourages creative writing. She had shared with Isaac that I like to write. So often, we review Isaac’s writing.
Of course, Isaac is most interested in me reading his story. Unfortunately, I divert to looking for spelling errors, run-on sentences or wrong punctuation. Like many people, Isaac writes exactly like he speaks. Sentences contain multiple thoughts and are one long mess of multiple thoughts strung together with adverbs and conjunctions.
Isaac’s teacher suggested we review one story in particular and see if there were any corrections we could make. This is a story we had looked at last week and I knew there were some improvements to be made. I also knew that it is very difficult for Isaac to accept suggestions about ways to improve his story.
As we walked through the story and I encouraged Isaac to look for misspelled words and endless sentences, it didn’t take long for Isaac’s patience to be tested. With each new suggestion, his response to me became sharper and shorter. Normally, Isaac is very positive with me. Behavior I seldom see, but is more common with school faculty, began to boil up.
While Isaac was not displaying patience, I decided my best response was to address it in a quiet, non-threatening tone, mustering up all the patience I could.
As soon as I question Isaac’s tone, he quickly became defeated. But … he kept his emotions in check. We talked through it and the rest of our time together was more positive.
Oh, it would have been so easy to lose my patience with Isaac. Unfortunately, I think this is the response Isaac most often expects from other people. When he gets a different response, he doesn’t know how to respond.
Why do we loose patience? Why do we seemingly have more patience on some days than others? Why can I have so much patience with some people … and very little with others?
Because we are human. Possibly, we expect to have less patience with some people and this becomes our reaction. Maybe some people just push our buttons more. For those who have been gifted with extra-ordinary amounts of patience, I bless and respect you.
When I really loose my patience, I immediately regret it. And promise me to “not let this happen again.” Alias, it always does.
How might we equip ourselves with more patience? Appreciate all the patience God has granted us. Acknowledge God’s endless bucket of patience that God covers us with. Encourage ourselves not to respond how others expect us … but choose to respond in a way which models care, grace and love.
Let’s also commit to pray for people, like Isaac’s teacher, Mrs. Wentz, who must have endless amounts of patience every day. She’s dealing with a lot of 5th graders for more than 45 minutes.
For the opportunity to embrace patience, I am grateful.
Holy God – I can’t imagine the amount of patience you have embodied with me, let alone all the others around me. May your Spirit encourage me to extend extra patience in just the right moments. May we discover appropriate ways to respond in potentially challenging times when it would be so easy to lose our patience. Amen.
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