Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Perfecting the Art of Patience

Let me preface this by saying that less than eight hours after writing this post my oldest daughter, Dana, woke up Jason and I by throwing up on herself right outside our bedroom door. You'll understand the irony of it all in a moment.

Sometimes I wonder why God ever blessed me with children. Specifically, the ones that presently live under my roof. My two precious, kind, loving, beautiful, unique daughters.

Days like today make me think that I am not a fit parent. I feel as if all day long I have been nagging, harping, scolding, reprimanding, and basically being unappreciative of the miracles that God has chosen to make my own.

My voice has been raised more often than I like, and if I am being honest, probably more often than was necessary. Looking back, the looks of bewilderment and sadness that I caused to grace my little one's faces is enough to make me cry tears of shame, and vow to never, ever say another harsh word of correction to them again.

But now they are in bed, sleeping like babies, looking like angels, and I am left sitting here regretting pretty much every interaction I have had with them all day long. I wonder what they must think of their mean old Mom. I wonder how much of today's negativity will permanently be etched in their subconscious. I wonder if I will be the focal point of their therapy sessions one day.

I'm so tempted in this moment to go into their rooms, wake them up, beg for their forgiveness, and tell them how much their momma really does love and cherish every ounce of their sweet little souls.

But then I remember I have to work in the morning, and putting the kids to bed twice doesn't sound so appealing anymore.

So for now I will simply pray with everything that I have, for what seems like the ten thousandth time, that they will forgive me my shortcomings as their Mom, and see through my many mistakes into this heart that is taken up completely with them.

It is times like these where I realize that I just can't do it (meaning my life!) without help. These are the days which have me getting down on my knees at night, confessing to God my perpetual lack of patience and understanding, and asking Him to please, please saturate my mind and heart with His wisdom and compassion. I find myself begging Him for guidance so that His children have a chance at knowing what it feels like to be loved with the unconditional love of Christ, and not with my own earthly, fallible, imperfect love.

(Sidenote: How does God do it? I can hardly handle two children three and under who have every right to whine, complain, and be self-indulgent because they just don't know any better. How does He handle a whole world of whining, complaining, self-indulgent people who do? The patience He must have defies any definition of "patience" my human mind could ever comprehend. )

Does anyone else ever have days like this? When the people you love most in the world become the people who you think it's okay to treat the worst? I admit, I have been guilty of that more often than is normal lately, and especially since my Dad passed away. I heard a saying somewhere that said, "Hurting people hurt people". And at first these words made so much sense to me. I embraced them, felt vindicated by them, and thought they gave me a good excuse to put myself first while expecting everyone else to cater to my every whim.

Now I see them as the crutch that they have become.

I can see where this quote may have had it's foundation. I can understand the mentality behind it. Being a "hurting person", I can completely relate to not wanting to have to think of anything beyond myself and my suffering.

But I know now that it doesn't make it right, and it definitely does not represent the lifestyle that we, as followers of Christ, are called to demonstrate to those around us.

So, today, with you all as my witnesses, I am going to make a point of being patient with the people around me. With my kids, my husband, my co-workers, the phone solicitors, the person behind the counter who didn't get my order right, and even the crazy Tulip Time tourists who don't understand what a Michigan Turn is and have me wait indefinitely while they make a left onto the highway. I am going to quit concentrating on how what they do and what they say make me feel, and instead become intent only on loving them.

When someone is hard to love, I'm just going to love them more.

When someone makes me want to leave the room in frustration, I'm going to take a deep breath, ask God for a quick dose of humility and sensitivity, and remain right where I am.

When I feel as if the only way to get my point across is to say hurtful words, roll my eyes, or sigh in exasperation, I'm going to ask myself, "What would Jesus do?", and keep my emotions and my reactions in check.

Lofty goals? You bet. No doubt about it. I'm already envisioning myself failing miserably.

But I know if I keep my eyes trained outward and upward, and forget about looking inward, I can achieve them.

Dear Lord in heaven,

I pray this day for a change of heart. You have seen me lately, and You know there are times where I hardly even recognize this person I can so easily become. You know my regrets, You've heard my apologies, You see the sadness this brings me, You know that I want to be different.
But I need You to help me.
Help me, Lord, have the patience I need to be a good parent, and a good wife, and a good person. Help me become someone who mirrors You in all that I do and say. Help people to look at me and see undeniable evidence of You in my life.
Help me to take the extra two seconds I need to re-evaluate the situations I find myself in, to see You there as well, and react appropriately and in a way that would make You proud to call me Your own.
You are all I want to look like in this life, Lord, help me to reflect that to those around me.
Today I give You my heart, so that You can make it more like Yours. I want to see Your people as You see them, accept them as You accept them, and embrace them as You embrace them.
Thank You for Your never-ending patience with me, Lord. Help me to renew and refine my own.

In Your Name I pray,


  1. Dear Susan,
    I see undeniable evidence of Christ in your life. It exudes from your eyes and your smiles. At least 3 times since you have started writing these messages you have put to words what I have have bottled up inside of me. Thank you and please be encouraged to continue.

  2. You are definately not alone in feeling this way! I think I have those thoughts every single night. My version of "hurtful people hurt people" is "cancer patients use their cancer card". Initially, yes, we do need extra grace and forgiveness when we are going through the fire but is so easy to hang onto that crutch much longer than necessary. I am having a very, very hard time letting go of my cancer card. Thank you for your honesty that lets so many of us know that we are not the only ones to feel this way.

  3. You are certainly not the only momma who has thought to wake up the children to apologize and slather on the loveys... I've been there this week as well. Glad I'm not the only one.