(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)
entry by Eric Vorhies
I spent the last month thinking about how to define patience. Here’s what I came up with: The ability to transition from expectation to reality while remaining level-headed.
- Expectation: Drive home from work in a timely manner…and on a good day, hit only green lights
Reality: Stuck in traffic because there is an accident on the other side of the interstate that people are slowing down to see
- Expectation: Go to bed at a decent hour
Reality: Three kids
- Expectation: Living a long and healthy life
Reality: Getting diagnosed with cancer
- Expectation: To be trusted by people in your workplace
Reality: The boss micromanages your every move in the most obnoxious way possible
- Expectation: The person closest to you should understand you the best
Reality: The closer someone is to you the more monumental small misunderstandings will be
Patience isn’t always about just waiting for external forces to align properly. Most of the time it is about internally disassembling our expectations so that we can pick up the pieces and deal with reality.
The more we lean on God, the more we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, the quicker we can go through this process -whether it is a seemingly small thing such as trying to understand what your two-year-old is saying through his tears of frustration, or a rather large thing such as waiting to hear back about medical test results which will be delivered at the rapid pace of six weeks.
But I don’t need to go on about moments in life that may or may not cause some of you to become impatient. I want to share the best way that I know how to deal with potential impatience, or even active impatience.
“In the meantime” – this is the process of doing something different than what you had specifically planned to do. For instance, stuck in traffic? You planned on cruising right home, but you can’t. So, in the meantime, listen to some great podcasts…and learn a ton of stuff that you wouldn’t have made time for otherwise. Can’t land that dream job? In the meantime, land any job in the same field. Waiting with a four-year-old to get your tires aligned? In the meantime, get off your phone and play with him rather than expect him to stay entertained (that one was for me).
The thing that is really happening in these situations is that we are shifting our goals in the gap between our expectations and our reality. Your goal isn’t to get home as quickly as possible. Netflix isn’t going anywhere. Just get home safely and when you can, and if possible enjoy the ride. Dream job – maybe your goal should be to find a job that will lead you to the job that will lead you to the job that you really want. And while at Tires Plus, my goal shouldn’t be to kill time as much as it should be how to make the most of my time.
One last story to drive this point home. Many couples have the goal to get pregnant and have kids. Some couples struggle to achieve this. I have some friends that had that exact problem. But at some point in the process, they took advantage of the “in the meantime” moments. They were able to use their struggle as part of their testimony, to grow more intimate with God, to lead other people through the same problem. Then one day, in glorious fashion, they became parents. But in order to do this, they had to shift their goal…or maybe, they figured out what their goal really was. That glorious fashion wasn’t due to a pregnancy ending in a delivery room experience. It was before a judge in a small courtroom in a small town. In the meantime, they changed their approach. They still became the best parents ever, but it just wasn’t how most couples do it. Because of their dependence on and trust in God, they were able to transition from expectation to reality.
The greatest example of this that I see in the Bible is written in Romans 5.8, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- Expectation: To live in relationship with God.
Reality: We couldn’t do it.
- Expectation: Sinners pay for their sins.
Reality: God’s patience paved the way for the sacrifice of Christ.