Thursday, December 19, 2019

Patience, My Word for 2019

Patience. That was my word for 2019. I was going to write something about it at the beginning of the year but truth be told, I had nothing meaningful to say. I often say I have the patience of a three year old, which may be an exaggeration, I don’t have quite that much. Instead I often prided myself on being a person who makes things happen, as opposed to others who only watch things happen, or worse, are left wondering what happened.

However, my journey with Jesus has continued to show me that it is not always a good thing. Action can be an indication of impatience and impatience is an indication of distrust. I don’t trust you to get this done right, so I will do it. I don’t trust your word when you say you will do something, so I will do it. I don’t trust you will figure this out, so I will instruct you, even though you did not ask me.  I don’t trust you will remember to leave on time to meet me, so I call you or text you to remind you.  Over and over and over.

Worst of all, I don’t believe God will work things together for good so I try to help Him. I worry. I am anxious, whiny and grumpy. I don’t trust you or God so I have to do everything myself.  And it is exhausting.

So this year I thought about patience. Not about the action of patience, because I was not even sure what that is. I thought about the motivations behind my impatience. What were the things I was doing that showed impatience? And then the more difficult question: what do I do instead?

Because the truth is, I can’t control everything. I can’t make things happen, or stop things from happening. This year, despite dedicated prayers, two dear friends lost their battle with cancer. Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? [Matthew 6:27] I miss them. But Jesus reminds me this is not the end of my relationship with them. They are whole and happy in the arms of Jesus and I will see them again. I will see them all, and my list is long now of family and friends gone.  I think of their names and see their faces, dear and sweet as I close my eyes. I will see them in glory and they will be even more glorious than my memories. This is not the end. The end will be good.

So, Beloved this year You have shown me what I can do instead.

For those who I have lost, for the prayers unanswered, the dreams dashed that will never come true, I can weep, because Jesus comforts those who mourn.

For the worries of today, the things I would change but cannot, the things that I still wait for, I can pray, because Jesus helps those who ask Him. He helps me not only by saying yes, but also by His presence as I wait, helping to quiet my heart, and then also my mouth. He reminds me this is His world, but not the perfect one He created. That is yet to come.

For people who do not believe as I do, I can respect them and ask Jesus to help me learn and understand them. My goal can be to listen, to understand, have compassion not to convince them that my way is right or better.

I can stop rehearsing my speeches to them. The Holy Spirit will instruct me at the time what to say, if I should even say anything at all. It is one thing to think things over. It is another to rehearse the dialogue when there is only my voice in my head. The best part of the dialogue is that there are two voices, both adding to understanding.

When things are not going the way I think is best, I can stop helping and trust the Author to finish the story. It is His story after all. Sometimes He works it out quickly, sometimes it is centuries later, but the end is good. I can trust that even if I never see the ending.

Patience is about trust in God.

Jesus, You have shown me over and over again that You are worthy of my trust and yet my actions demonstrate that I have not trusted You. That is my fault. I demonstrated I did not even trust my own mother in the post Where She Left Me Standing. Of course she was coming for me. Of course she would never leave me on that corner. She came every time. She was not perfect, she was late, but her love and devotion to me was unfailing. And yet I did not see that love. I only saw her time was not on time for me. What made me right and her wrong? Maybe God’s intent was to teach me the patience that I failed to learn.  And so, stubborn, willful and self-righteous, I spent my life stuck in the anxiety of impatience, not trusting anyone but controlling because of my own fault, not hers. She always showed up. It was me who failed to trust.

Beloved, I can say I trust You but if I cannot wait in patience, You will not believe me and with good reason. Even this, I cannot do without Your Spirit. Allow me to trust You. Even if others cannot be trusted, even though the world is evil, You work all for the good. You have overcome the world. You can be trusted. And as I trust You, I will demonstrate patience.

I know that everything God does will last forever. You can't add anything to it or take anything away from it. And one thing God does is to make us stand in awe of Him.
-- Ecclesiastes 3:14