Learning to Be Patient

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Motherhood brings out the best and worst sides of me. I never knew I was capable of living on so little sleep, or keeping a human alive solely on my own body’s ability to produce food. Simultaneously, I never knew how impatient I could become, how easily irritated, how much like all of the things I said I would never be as a mom I can actually be. Motherhood strips me of my pride. Every. Single. Day.

The worst of my stumbling as a parent is my ability to lose my cool. I can be so kind one minute, and then completely exploding the next. It’s the most ungracious, unattractive switch in the world and I hate myself for it. It’s a consistent response of mine when people ask what they can pray for: pray that I’m a patient mom. It’s amazing to me how much my daughter understands about my moods. For about a year now, I’ve been apologizing every time I become the worst possible version of myself. I get on her level and just repent the best way I know how, “Eden, mommy is not right when she gets upset and is impatient. It makes God’s heart sad for me to treat you like this, and I need to ask God to forgive me, and then I need to ask you to forgive me.” I love how merciful little kids are, what follows that kind of a confession is heart-breaking: her little arms wrap tight around my neck and she whispers, “I forgive you, Mommy.” I’ve gone so far as to elicit Eden’s help, and I’ve asked her to remind me to be patient when she senses me slipping into irritability. Just yesterday, as I was muttering about how slowly the car ahead of me was going because was late, a little voice from behind my seat chirped at me, “Remember Mommy? Be patient!” It’s such a good thing for me, to get so humble that I have to actually heed the voice of a 3-year-old. If I can’t be perfect in this area, then I want her to always remember I was candid about the struggle, and that I repented quickly.

As I’ve taken this issue before the Lord, I keep seeing a pattern in my behavior: when I’m rushing and busy and racing against the clock, my propensity towards anger increases. The less responsible and organized I am, the more easily I snap at my kids or bark orders at them. It’s been good for me, as a person who takes pride in spontaneity and flying by the seat of my pants, to have to learn to plan and to make sure I’m prepared before we start heading out the door. I’m learning how to grow up alongside my kids most days, and I’m learning I have to be faithful for their sake.

But there are some days when my impatience is a reflection of some turbulence in my heart. When I’m displeased with myself or moaning all my failures, I find it hard to react calmly to disastrous moments like sippy-cups exploding and trinkets breaking. If my mind isn’t at peace, and if I’m spending time thinking of all the ways I’m falling short, I end up really falling short before the little people I value most in my life. I’m accountable for my reaction.

I think that’s the most humbling part about struggling with anger issues like irritability and impatience: I’m the one who is responsible for it.

No one is twisting my arm to make me answer shortly. And I hope that by the end of my life, my response time in repenting from it is lightening fast. And I know that even in my failure, the Lord’s grace is just like those sweet little hugs from my baby girl, full of forgiveness and hope and love.

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20

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