I can really be impatient at times. How about you? Recently, I was late to a meeting and coming off the freeway on ramp, I was confronted by a construction backup, three lanes to two. I am in a hurry, and some wise guy comes up the right side of traffic and squeezes in front before I can cut him off. So I quickly violated two of the Galatians 5 fruit of the Spirit: patience and self- control. I uttered a moan, “HOW CAN THIS BE?” (impatience) and laid on my horn at the lane squeezer/cheater (self-control).
At 72, a believer for 40 years, I realize that I was in a backslidden state on the freeway. Over the years I have practiced developing patience and self- control. With God’s help, patience and self-control, have become habits (most of the time). As proven above, I can break those habits quickly but have also learned to confess the sin related to my actions and move back into “good habit territory.”
When we lose patience and self-control there is a battle raging in our being about who is in control of our life. Is it you or Christ who abides in us through the Holy Spirit? If it’s you, one word can describe the situation: selfishness. The famous mantra of a 3 year old: “I want what I want when I want it.”
Why do we become impatient and lose self- control? Often a goal or an expectation has been blocked by a situation or a person. When this happens over a life time, people live in a state of impatience and actions that often required forgiveness.
- Impulsive actions can occur
- Inappropriate, impulsive verbal responses will take place
- Fear, anger and anxiety become a constant in life
- Inability to trust God in responding to challenging situations
Let’s be real, most of us lose patience and self-control at times. But where is the line drawn between “occasional” and “often.” Many relationships (marriage, work, family) are in trouble because an occasional situation leading to impatience and loss of self-control has become a regular occurrence.
“Patience” and “Self-control” are fruit of the Spirit for a reason. If we really believe that God has answers in every situation then we can wait for His wisdom or answer. If we possess the Holy Spirit in our life, and know His Word, then our response to situations will be measured with a degree of maturity because we have established a habit of patience and self-control and respond appropriately.
There is a great saying. “Try to never make a decision at the point of decision.” The long distance runner decides each night that he will run in the morning at 5 a.m. The person on a diet decides the night before what to eat for lunch instead of getting into the all-you-can-eat $7.99 lunch line the next noon. Choose today to make patience and self-control part of your life tomorrow with God’s help.
When confronted with a blocked goal:
- Quickly admit to yourself that you are in a situation that requires patience and self-control
- Silently mouth the words, “Thank you, Lord.”
- Process a thought, “God is in control.”
- Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom, peace and patience
- Confess any inappropriate thoughts/actions/words that might actually be sinful
A positive sign: Jeanne and I took our 12 year old granddaughter, Avery, to Disneyland/California Adventure. Avery was really interested in a popular ride, CARS. We were on a fast paced schedule to see everything, but the line was 80 minutes long (a blocked goal). Patience was put at risk. So, I decided to stand in line, send them off to other venues and I chose to enjoy the time, talk to my new best friends in line and rejoiced when Jeanne and Avery joined me at the head of the line. The three minute ride was worth every minute. Patience is a virtue.