Tonight for dinner, I had Grandma Utz’s potato chips, three chocolate covered strawberries, watermelon, and an Honest Tea juice box. Let’s face it: I’m eating my feelings. I’ve been going through an intense time of suffering, and the end is not in sight. My uncle is recovering from a massive stroke, my dad is close to dying, my job is stressful and changing drastically, and my friends have felt distant. My response has been to wallow, throw pity parties, and ignore my physical health. Worst of all, I haven’t had much patience with anyone—God, myself, or others. I’ve been really self-absorbed and irritated with everyone—including myself (see previous blog posts for examples!).
As I was convicted of this, I realized that I was allowing some aspects of the porn identity to take over my life in an area where the God identity has been trying to take hold: patience. We tend to think of patience as affecting only one area of our lives (timing), but here are the three areas where I’m trying to improve and adopt the God identity characteristic of patience in my life:
- Patience for timing. I tend to think that my timing is perfect, and God is usually late. I know the phrase, “God is always on time” but I rarely live like that’s true. No question has been bigger in my life than, “God, where is my husband?” There was a time when I was unhealthy and addicted and I know that would have been a terrible time for me to get married. But now that I’m healthier and committed to walking with God, my struggle is even bigger. “I was closer to getting married when I was unhealthy than I am now!,” I reason with God. But the Bible says that it is not for me to know the times or the seasons God has fixed by His own authority (Acts 1:7). And each time I can peacefully accept God’s timing in my life, I am practicing patience.
- Patience for others’ mistakes or sins. In the past, I have had very little patience for the mistakes and sins of others. I tend to get very impatient with people who don’t see truth right away as I do. Often, this means folks are missing truth and sinning instead of recognizing the truth and doing right. And this makes me angry—angry that people don’t realize they aren’t walking in truth, and angry that I am trying to do the right thing while others are not! And when I’m angry, I’m not waiting OR doing the right thing. But the Bible says that I should not become tired of doing good, because in due season, I’m going to reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9). And each time I hold back judgment while a friend muddles through a mistake or sin, I am practicing patience.
- Patience for times of suffering. This is where I’m currently struggling the most. I can’t remember a time when I’ve prayed less than these past eight weeks. I’ve told my friends that their prayers have sustained me—and that’s true, but mostly because I’ve not been as vigilant about seeking the Lord during this time as I have sought solace, food, and other things to blame. Quite honestly, I’ve had little patience for this time of suffering—which has made me less patient for God’s timing and others’ mistakes and sins, too. Then today, I saw a Bible verse that reminded me of what I’m supposed to do when suffering and trials head my way: I should rejoice in hope, be patient in trials, and be constantly praying (Romans 12:12). Perhaps if I focus on doing these three important things, I can begin practicing patience during this time of intense suffering.
It’s not too late for me—or you! We can begin practicing patience today in any or all of these areas. The Bible lists many promises for those who wait on the Lord and show the virtue of patience: inheritance, blessing, strength, hope, etc. These are all things we want in our lives—the question is, are we able to develop patience so that we can have them? The God identity says that we can—so I challenge you to start today with me!