Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Patience comes from the Latin word…

that translates as suffering, endurance, submission. The dictionary defines it as “the quality of being patient (typical dictionary definition), as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like… an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. In the Scripture passage above, the Greek word is makrothumia, meaning endurance, constancy, steadfastness and perseverance.

Now just for fun, let’s imagine we are sitting in a traffic jam with no exit in sight and you have an appointment. Or you’re in a grocery line where the person in front of you has an endless amount of coupons and the casher is a trainee. Or you are waiting for the results of a doctor’s report and the phone just sits there, silent. How are you working that patience right about now?
Trust me, I am the least of anyone to judge or criticize you, believe me! Living in the tri-state area of NY/NJ/PA where the length of anyone’s patience runs a max of about five seconds, I am used to living life close to the speed of sound. But that doesn’t give me any excuses for not asking the Lord to help me work on developing this fruit in my life. Of course I want it to happen NOW! No wonder another translation of the word is longsuffering!!!

So where can you plant seeds each day in order to harvest a fruitful crop of patience in your life? I’m sure you can immediately think of at least three “opportunities for growth”! Aside from the situations above, think first about being patient with yourself, because all too often the person you are least patient with is YOU. Release your self-criticism and gift yourself with the same patience you would give another. If you are learning something, give yourself ample time. If you are on a quest for a healthier lifestyle with better nutrition and perhaps some weight loss, remember it will take consistent steps and practices one day at a time. Remember the quote by Aristotle:

“Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. We are what we repeatedly do; therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Your excellence/success begins with a repeated habit, and happens little by little.”

Take that principle/thought process to yourself and those around you, from strangers to those closest to you. Learn to “practice practical patience” in everyday situations. Recognize and name when you feel anger, irritation or outrage instead of just stoking the fire of anger with a rant about it. If you are in traffic, for example, say out loud, “Okay, I am feeling aggravated because I’m stuck here, and feeling trapped, and I’m upset because I may be late.” Now you know where this is coming from. Next, determine if there is something you can do – can you call ahead and let your appointment know you are stuck in traffic and will be a few minutes late? Then, do some breathing therapy to calm yourself, and intentionally relax your muscles. Then practice self-talk, reminding yourself that this isn’t the end of the world as you know it, that you are okay, and if you are late because of your own miscalculated judgment of timing or oversleeping, be tolerant with yourself and strategize how you can make plans/take steps next to keep yourself out of a future jam (pun fully intended).

When you are feeling impatient with another person, try to identify specifically what is making you impatient with them – Talking too much? Moving too slowly? Not listening to you? Think about their motives and put yourself in their shoes. How would the situation improve if you gave them a little more grace, more kindness? If you physically lean in to show your one-on-one attention in body language, would they feel more “heard” and respond better? What kind of a day are they having? What happened in their life or health before this moment? I have found that this has often helped me feel less anxious and stressed when dealing with a relational issue. It can change your whole perspective if you give yourself permission to take this viewpoint.

I will also take a minute to pray and ask God to help me get out of my own way and give me strength to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Is there a lesson He is trying to teach you in this moment that you may be missing? Believe me, I can tell you from multiple personal lessons when I pray for patience, God gives me plenty of opportunity to learn it! LOL!  And I practice counting my blessings with gratitude, and that exhaustive list of all the blessings in my life always always helps me get in a better frame of mind, and my thoughts go from stressed to blessed!

How will you actively incorporate practicing practical patience in your life today?


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