A Lesson in Patience

My dad was one of the most patient, loving, persons I’ve known. Even with his seven children, he rarely lost his temper. My youngest brother with Down syndrome required a tremendous amount of patience and Dad was the person who worked with him most effectively.

In one area of his life however, his usual patient attitude fell by the wayside. He hated being sick. Whenever he landed in the hospital, his first question to the doctor was “When can I go home?” Our pastor once teased him, “You know, by the time a guy reaches eighty, you’d think he’d have learned all there is to know about patience!”

Even though I’m still a ways from eighty, I recently discovered I’ve got a lot to learn in that area as well. This fall I spent two weeks at our daughter’s home with her family, which included a new baby girl. Sonja had a C section and needed help with the older children, while she concentrated on feeding her new little one, and recuperating from surgery.

I loved being there to watch the response of her five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son when they met their new sister. My grandson literally jumped up and down and clapped his hands in excitement when I told him that baby Anya had arrived safe and sound. He kept saying, “She’s born—baby Anya is born!” Then, he raced to the garage to see if Daddy had brought them home yet.

At the hospital when Mirana and Iskandar met their new sister for the first time, I cried over their sweet innocence and sense of awe at how tiny her head, hands, and feet were.

After just two days in the hospital, Sonja and the new baby came home. The children’s excitement was palpable as they exuberantly welcomed Mommy and baby home.

In the next few days the reality of how their lives had changed began to set in. They wanted their mom to take care of them like they were used to. When Grandma tried to help them, they sometimes responded with, “No, I want Mommy.”

Negotiating with children has never been my strong suit, and at times my impatience won out. That was frustrating to me, as well as them. How do you teach patience when you don’t respond that way yourself?

I felt pulled between their needs, their demands on their mama who desperately needed her rest, and my own struggle to keep the peace in order to truly be helpful to my daughter. I love my grandchildren dearly, and was disappointed with my lack of patience and endurance.

A recent article published in the Faith and Fellowship, “Faithful to the End,” by Anthony Karlik, hit home to me. He said that all believers want to hear these words of Jesus when we arrive home in Heaven someday, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Then he related some of his struggles with fear, anxiety, and lack of patience in the midst of trials.

After being hit by a car on his motorcycle, he endured multiple surgeries, weeks in the hospital, and therapy to strengthen his shattered foot and leg. He said, “Throughout this process I went through every emotion known to man. From anger with God to rage against the one who hit me…and when I could finally fight no more, the only faithful one, our Lord Jesus, came to minister to me. When I hear the passage, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ I hang my head in shame because I am not worthy to be called that. But Jesus, knowing our condition, does not leave us in that state of brokenness.”

The words of Paul in Romans 8:2 are an encouragement to all believers: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because the law of the Spirit, alive in Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death.” Although all of us will continue to face trouble in our lives, we have a faithful Savior who will be with us, and one day when all is said and done, he will faithfully come for us.

My two-week stay with my daughter’s family was a wonderful opportunity to get to know my grandchildren better and to experience their environment, both at home and at school. As I helped get them ready for school, drove them there, and picked them up each afternoon, I could appreciate more of my daughter’s world too.

It brought back memories of my days as a young mom, the joys as well as the frustrations. However, I was a stay-at-home mom while Sonja works full time. I worry about how she will manage it all once she returns to work.

While it will be difficult, I am confident she’ll do just fine. I reminded her that I had to rely on God for his strength to get me through my days, and she’ll need to do that more and more too.

So even though I sometimes fail in my patience, God forgives me and helps me to continue on with my journey of learning and growing in His love. Even if it takes me to age eighty and beyond to learn the lesson of patience!

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