Friday, May 18, 2007

What exactly IS Patience?

While we were all at the dentist's office on Wednesday, the receptionist touched my arm and told me she just wanted to let me know she is SO impressed with our family and how well behaved the children are. She thought I must have SO much patience to be able to manage all of them in such an efficient manner. We've got her fooled, huh? It reminded me of something I had recently read from a fellow homeschool mom, who had a great explanation for what Patience is. I had never heard this before, but it is GOOD. Makes me want to wake up and practice patience a whole new way tomorrow. Hope it is a blessing to you too.

Patience is correcting (giving a consequence for) wrong behavior without becoming angry or resentful, every time it is necessary, no matter how inconvenient it is or how much you don’t feel like doing it.

I used to think that being patient was putting up with my children’s lack of obedience. I was thinking wrongly that they were just children, and couldn’t help themselves. I thought I was being patient if I asked them to do something over and over again without getting angry.

I would say, “Walk in the house, please.” Ten minutes later I’d say, “Walk in the house please.” Five minutes later, “Walk in the house please.” I would feel myself getting angrier and angrier as the days went on and still every day my children ran through the house. I would tell myself to “be patient.” I would think, “They’re just children.” “They’re just 2 yrs. Old” or “They are just 4 yrs. old,” etc. I would tell them in a sweet voice and remind them once again…”Walk in the house please.”

The problem was that I was confused about what “patience” was when it came to discipline. In truth, deciding ahead of time, with my husband, what the rules of our house were going to be (no running in the house for example), determining an appropriate consequence for the breaking of these rules, and then purposing to enforce the rule EACH and EVERY time was what was needed.

What is the godly principle for the rule “no running in the house?” you might ask? It is in loving others and in considering them more highly than ourselves. It is also honoring and obeying your parents in the Lord. It is in being wise. Running through the house is unwise. It is not the place for running, as children can get hurt as well as belongings getting broken. We need to be good stewards of what the Lord has blessed us with.

Where does patience come in? If I have to correct them 20 times a day for 20 days – that’s where patience and perseverance come in! When I have to walk away from making dinner for the third time to issue a correction (a training swat), when I have to get up from my conversation with my husband, when I have to get off the phone to correct my child, or put down a book I’m reading to correct my child (giving them a trainer swat)…this is where patience comes in! Instead of becoming angry that I have told them and corrected them 3 or 5 or 20 times already, it’s correcting them with love and understanding and PATIENCE.

Patience is not “putting up with” wrong behavior. Patience is correcting (giving a consequence for) wrong behavior without becoming angry or resentful, every time it is necessary, no matter how inconvenient it is or how much you don’t feel like doing it.

Long suffering is another way of saying “patience” and it is a good description of what patience is. It is being willing to suffer (be inconvenienced) for the benefit of your child, however…long…it is necessary, hence the word long suffering. When we suffer long to teach our children the importance of obedience, we are making an amazing investment into their lives. We are teaching them the true nature of God. That no matter how far we stray, no matter what we do, or how many times we do it…God will correct us also…because He loves us and He wants good for us. He will not allow us to prosper and continue in something that is to our detriment. He desires for his children to be mature and wise, just as we hope for our children to become adults that are mature and wise. I hope this helps other parents.

"My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you." Proverbs 3:1-2

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