Tag Archives: 1 Corinthians 13

Feeling Impatient to Become More Patient

Sandra Peoples at Not Alone Minsitry invited me to write a blog sharing tips for improving patience from my book Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving.  You can read that original blog by clicking here, or read the repost below.

“Meditation By Young Women” by tiverylucky couresy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Love is patient; Love is kind.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4a

The irony did not escape me.  Years ago at the first session of a six-week support group I outlined the topics I planned to cover.  Then I offered that if there were other topics folks would like to discuss we could add those as well. I decided to grease the skids of the group’s creative thinking by offering some suggestions, “We could talk about siblings, resilience, patience…”

“Yes! Patience! I need that!” one participant exclaimed.

“Me too!”

“Same here!”

I offered, “Would you like me to rearrange lessons and do that one sooner rather than later?”

I got an enthusiastic, “Yes!” from every participant.

Why so impatient to talk about patience?  Maybe because it is something that is hard for everyone. Virtually every special needs parent I know has commented about how they have more patience than they ever thought possible, but that they also wished they had even more.  Patience encompasses so many aspects of life related to parenting a child with extraordinary needs.  Coping with insurance and the medical minefield, scheduling therapy, the (for some) unending quest for diagnosis, and over-committed schedules all contribute to a losing patience.  Is chronic lack of sleep a familiar companion? Let us not forget the “homework wars” looming large right around the corner with the new school year.  Any one of these reasons, plus many others as well, may push patience to the breaking point if reserves are low.

As Christians, we are meant to strive for patience. It is a virtue to be cultivated. The Apostle Paul writes of patience in several of his letters to churches he founded or planned to visit. In his letter to the churches in Corinth, he expounds on the characteristics of love. The first attribute of love is that “love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4). Paul writes to the churches in Galatia listing the fruit of the Spirit, the qualities cultivated in your life when living as a follower of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things” (Gal. 5:22–23). To the Colossians he writes, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col. 3:12-13).

Paul writes of the importance of cultivating patience because even two thousand years ago people struggled with patience. I suppose some comfort comes in knowing it is a universal area for personal growth, but how do we cultivate it? How do we learn to become more patient people, especially in the midst of long-term stress and difficulties? When I think of what it feels like to lose my patience, there comes a tipping point and beyond that patience is broken.

In my book, Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving, I included a chapter about patience that includes strategies about unlocking each person’s triggers for losing patience.  Here is an excerpt from the book offering a few strategies to combat those triggers:

Breath prayer/mantra. Breath prayer involves picking a word or short phrase and repeating it silently or aloud in conjunction with the pattern of breathing. Breathe in to the thought “Love is patient.” Breathe out to the thought “Love is kind.” Alternate phrases include: “Breathe on me breath of God,” “Create in me a clean heart,” or “Let there be peace.” Any phrase that is peaceful and centering for you is appropriate to use in those moments when patience is at the breaking point.

Exercise. There are physical symptoms that come before a loss of patience: fidgeting, tensed muscles, some describe a tingling sensation. Hard exercise releases pent-up tension. Make regular exercise a part of your routine. In the heat of the moment, if appropriate, do some push-ups, crunches, or lunges. Run around the block. Play racket ball against the garage door. At times I would ask my son to run to his room as fast as he could to get something, and I would time him. I would be very impressed by how fast he was and then ask him if he thought he could do it even faster. By the time he raced up and down the stairs five times, he was tired, his frustration was gone, and he was in a great mood from endorphins and playtime. If running in the house is against the rules where you live, a trip to the car in the garage or the mailbox could serve the same purpose.

Journal. Emotions and tension need expression in order to be processed and released. Some find journaling a great resource for sharing feelings of frustration, resentment, and impatience. Through that process you can gain a deeper understanding of self. If you have concerns about a person reading your journal, use electronic media that can be password protected or secure a written journal in a private place.

Prayer. Never underestimate the power of prayer. It does not have to be a long prayer, and it does not have to be out loud. Simply pray, “Loving God, I am at the end of my patience. I am overwhelmed and I don’t feel I can hold it together right now. I need you to strengthen me. I need you to calm me. I need you to give me peace. Most of all, I need you. Amen.” What a powerful lesson for a child who struggles with behavior to hear you pray a prayer like that, or for you to pray together.

Communicate. Talk to someone about your frustration. It helps! If a person is the source of your frustration, have a conversation with him or her at a time when you are calm and have a clear perspective. Opening channels of communication is likely to help alleviate the strain. If the source of frustration is not a person, but rather a situation, confide in a spouse, good friend, or pastor who can be objective and help you look for solutions or simply provide a sympathetic ear.

Find support. Being part of a community of people on a journey similar to your own is helpful. It provides a forum where you can be easily understood because others live with situations similar to your own. Find a place where you feel that you belong and can connect in a meaningful way that is rejuvenating. Others living your with similar experiences may have resources and helpful tips that will provide a solution to your problem. Even if others cannot offer a solution, it is healing simply to be heard and understood.

There are no perfect parents and everyone will lose their patience at times.  Give yourself permission to be human. With intentional practice and anticipation of situations that will test patience it is possible to improve personal patience.

Patient God, We are so grateful that your capacity for patience far exceeds our own.  Help us find ways to tap into your infinite reserve of calm in those moments when we feel we may lose it. Forgive us our human failings when we fall short and help us find grace  and forgiveness in others.

Rev Doc Lorna

“Meditation By Young Women” by tiverylucky courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

The Greatest of These is Love

When my son was an infant we did not live near extended family.  They were all in California, with two outliers in Oregon.  We lived in Alaska, having been whisked there five years prior by my husband’s company the day after we said, “I do!” With Craig being the only grandchild on one side of the family, and only one of two on the other side, we received requests to provide many videos of our whopping five-pound guy.  We then received complaints that they were a bit dull and the baby didn’t do anything.  It kind of made me wonder how they had never noticed when my husband and I were babies that we didn’t do anything either.  Perhaps the memory had faded with time.  Nevertheless, we kept up the videos.  We left off the long crying spells, the colic, and the inability to be comforted.  We left off the anxiety as milestones came along just a bit later than expected. Not enough to cause complete alarm, but just enough to make you go, “Hmmmm.”

This past Thanksgiving I visited my mother and she surprised me with a DVD that condensed all of those videos sent over the early years of Craig’s life. Our family of three settled in around the fireplace to share those memories recorded decades earlier and long forgotten. First baths, first smiles, cuddles in the rocking chair gave way eventually to tottering steps holding his daddy’s index fingers like handlebars. Watching his first haircut, I am amazed that Craig still has both of his ears after seeing him whip his head around trying to see what I was doing with those scissors.  I especially enjoyed the clips of me chasing him through the house, complete with Mark’s camera commentary and Craig’s shrieks of laughter encouraging me to ever higher levels of ridiculousness.  Parents will make complete fools of themselves for their children!  I collapsed on the couch, telling Mark, “I think it’s time to stop.  He seems tired.”  To which he replied, “I think mommy is the one who seems tired!”  He was right, and has video evidence to prove it!

I think that is what I recall most from those days, being tired, being a busy working mom, being a bit anxious about Craig’s development.  As a first time parent I had no point of reference.  Every child cries and cannot be comforted, every child can be picky about food, every child can be hard to put to bed, but … As years went on diagnoses came. First, ADHD. Then OCD. Then dysgraphia. Then anxiety. Then Tourette’s. Then Asperger’s. My focus became therapy and medication and behavior plans. Well, my focus was Craig, but also a whole lot of new things that became part of the world of helping Craig to be the best Craig he could be.

Somehow, in the midst of the intervening years those are the memories that crowd to the front. Toss in some vivid memories of “proud moments in parenting” when I was not as patient as I should have been and I realize I forgot something very important at the heart of it all.  I forgot about how truly, deeply, madly I love that baby boy who has grown into a young man of whom I am so proud.

Of course, I know I love my child.  He is part of who I am, even as he is separate and autonomous.  Yet, those videos brought home for me the underlying purpose of parenting. Deep love. It is so much a part of my everyday life that somehow deep love faded into the background of daily recognition.  In the shrieks and giggles and racing legs clad in fleece-footed jammies, I glimpsed it.  I even glimpsed it in those “boring” videos of us sleeping on the couch and rocking in the chair.  I think that is why we recorded so much of those times.  It wasn’t that they were exciting to watch, but that they were steeped in a new found deep love and wonder for the tiny person who was, and is, the biggest part of our lives.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth at a time when they had forgotten a bit about who they were and why they were a church, a gathering of people representing Christ to the world.  He wrote for many chapters offering guidance, suggestions, and the occasion admonishment.  Finally, in chapter thirteen he spelled it out plainly. The Christian walk is all about love.  He reminded them that love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  He concluded that chapter, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13 NRS).

Faith, hope and love. Those are the definitive guides to parenting. Faith in God for guidance and direction as we shepherd our children through life, raising them up to their potential, whatever that may be.  Hope for a future that we cannot see, one that can be wrapped with anxiety and worry if we allow ourselves to be isolated from hope. Love, the greatest of these, prompts us to sleep on the floor next to a crib, go one more round with the insurance provider to advocate for our child’s needs, or simply make funny sounds to see a little face light up with joy. Of course we do those things and many more! We are made in the image of God and God’s character is defined by love for all people and all of creation. That deep love we feel for our child is but a dim reflection of the love that God feels for us, for our children, and for our families, whatever size and shape they may be.  God’s love is always there, even when we forget to notice. I wonder.  When we get to heaven will God show us a shaky home video of our lives, reminding us of all the times and all of the ways that we were loved by God as we grew as Christians and reached up to our potential as followers of Christ?

Faith, hope and love.  We need all three as parents; and the greatest of these is love.