Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful… (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
This week’s fruit of the Spirit is a trying one for all of us.
There are a million and a half ways that our patience can be tested. Sometimes its through difficult medical diagnoses for which we must wait a long while. Other times it is surviving a long family trip that seems to grow longer by the hour. And still other times it is waiting and waiting for good news to arrive, while somewhere in the back of your head wondering if it ever will.
Patience is tied directly to the very person of who God is. For our God is Love. And real love is, first and foremost, very, very patient.
It endures difficult times. It persists through every argument. It shows humility in order to rebuild a relationship. It restrains its own need to control. And it diligently perseveres to see another person grow.
I came across a story this week that illustrates perfectly what Godly patience looks like – the parable of the two teachers:
A child’s parent had to have emergency surgery. Though the child was young enough to know precisely what was happening, she knew that something was wrong. Her teachers at school noticed that she was not acting like herself and mentioned something to her caregivers.
Later that day, she went to her sports practice and her emotions finally caught up with her. She broke down. One of the other children was frustrated with the crying and made a comment to her coach, who agreed that this show of emotion was very obnoxious in front of the entire team.
Eventually, the little girl left practice. As she was about to leave campus, she ran into another teacher – one who had never had her in class but who was a good friend of her parents. This teacher got down on her level and asked what was wrong. The girl said, “I’m having a really bad day.” To which the teacher replied, “Sometimes we have bad days and that is totally okay. Other days will be better ones.” Then she gave her a hug and let her know she was not alone.
The moral of this parable: we have two choices in every interaction that we have. We can either think entirely of ourselves, our comfort, our desires, and tear down those who are unable to get in line with what the world (and we) expect. Or we can display Godly patience enough to know that sometimes life is hard, and take them by the hand, listen to them, love on them, and help them to know that they are never, ever alone.
Real life is very messy. And just about everyone you meet is going through something. It’s time that we all displayed the patience that love requires to everyone we meet. Even to ourselves.