In the next days, I will be spending some time in exploring virtue’s that we hold valuable as a reflection of our Christian life.  I did a bit more reading, and was reminded that the Catholic Church is a proponent of the seven virtues.  The Stoics and early church recognized the meaning of virtues, using them as either a moral or Christian character that can be developed.  Christians believe that virtues are developed by obedience and reliance on the Holy Spirit to refine our nature towards holiness of life and heart.  In a very short explanation, therein is why we are engaged in seeking a virtuous life.

As we recognize the need for improvement, the Holy Spirit will bring certain experiences to light revealing our need to grow in Christian life and actions.  So we begin to be conscious of the impatience in ourselves.  And all of a sudden we find that we have many occasions of impatience! One after another. It’s like when you get a red car, thinking how you never see many red cars on the road.  The minute you drive off the lot, you begin to see red cars. Everywhere. All the time.

I remember when our girls were young, I was at home with them, working and enjoying being able to have so much time with them.  However, being together was also demanding.  My patience wore thin.  I knew I could do better, so I began to pray to the Lord that I would have more patience with our children.  And it felt like my patience got worse.  I struggled, prayed more, and still found myself impatient with whatever came my way.  Finally, I realized.  My patience was being refined by my prayer.  The only way to gain patience is to have it tried and found strong in the Lord’s leading.  So what I asked for was being given so I could get better with my shortcomings.  It was a long time before I prayed for patience again!  But I do still pray for patience.

The Holy Spirit has prompted me to “refine” my patience these days.  Like the red car, when I need to refine my patience, I notice a glut of impatience.  With myself, with others, with circumstances, with – hey – you know we can be impatient over anything! Letting impatience take root in us opens the way for unholy actions – road rage, yelling or demeaning others for their lack of doing what you want as fast as you want them to,  holding the impatience until it simmers to a boil, creating an opening for many ways we hurt others and ourselves in the process.  Surely, patience is a holy work.

It is easier to look to others rather than ourselves, but Jesus had something to say about that.  In Matthew 7: 4-6 Jesus says “Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”  Jesus is reminding us that there are those things within us that demand addressing before we begin to blame others or excuse our actions because of what someone else has said or done.  

Being patient requires that we take stock of our own thoughts, judgements, actions, words before we bring them to light.  Learning to trust that God already knows us, our thoughts and desires, and still wants a relationship with us.  In that trust, we allow the Holy Spirit to reprimand us for things that are not of God, not redemptive in nature, not revealing love.  In short, not Christlike.  So we face our impatience and the outcomes it creates, repent and ask God to form us into more gracious, patient people.  For the love of God!

Loving God means letting go of the ways that separate us from the presence of God.  Impatience builds walls with others, most especially God.  If that virtue is part of our growing edge then we have an open invitation to grow in patience.  We are being taught with by the Master of patience.  Just think how patient God is with us.

I love you, am praying for you.  Pastor Lisa

“Patience, People”    While this is an Advent refrain, aren’t we always waiting on the Lord?  May the refrain inhabit our day, inspiring us to patience.
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