It feels as if I’m constantly moving from one awaited event in life to the next. I wait for vacations, visitors, treats, appointments… and most of the time I’m somwhere between irritated and excitedly anxious. But I so want to enjoy the present without living in impatience all of the time!
So how do you and I bridge the gap from impatience to patience?
1. Ask for it!
God loves to give good gifts to His children. Asking Him to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in you is request He is thrilled to answer.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed with an entire list. “God… I want love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness… oh, and goodness, faithfulness, answers, help, health… Wait, just give me a 9 for 1 deal. I want the whole fruit basket.” I’ve begun lifting up one quality per week. You could try this per day, per month, or even year. But know that answer won’tjust come in an extra dollop of patience. I’m not saying He can’t or won’t work a miracle, but more than likely… it’s going to take some work.
Remember strength training from yesterday? Ever seen someone bench pressing heavy weights at a gym? Once you reach a certain weight you need a spotter. Ask that God would be your spotter as you cultivate good fruit in your life. “God, I want patience, but I cannot do it without you. Help me!”
His promise is that He won’t give us more than we can handle… but just enough to make us utterly dependent upon Him! (“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG)
2. Root yourself in good soil.
I can’t say it enough: eat the Word! When we are struggling to exhibit certain fruit we should check our nourishment level and source. Look, if I’m starting to notice jealousy and envy creeping into my life it’s usually an indication that I haven’t been filling up on good stuff. I’m going to be really honest with you. I stopped reading popular fashion and celebrity magazines years ago because I just can’t handle it. I begin to want different clothes, a different body, and sometimes even a different life. I had to do a lot of damage control by retraining my thought patterns to dwell on good things… aka memorizing!
Struggling with impatience? Try memorizing some of these verses:
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
That’s just a start, but you’d be surprise how having just one ammo verse can help shoot down the start of an impatience rant. (Anyone else familiar with the screaming that goes on inside of your head, much less what gets verbalized? Yeesh!)
3. Soak up the accountability.
Obviously your main dependence should always be on the Lord, but thankfully He didn’t put us here all by ourselves! Be willing to share this desire or struggle with someone and ask for prayer. If you are really brave, ask them to point out your blind spots. If patience is what you desire, ask a select friend or mentor to (gently) remind you of instances when this hasn’t been your strong suit. (Sometimes this calls for a not so gentle kick in the pants.) Hopefully they will be the kind of friend who will also encourage the good fruit they see in your life!
Remember: growing good fruit isn’t instantaneous. You will have good days and bad days, but thankfully we have One who will never leave us. Philippians 1:6 says, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Amen!