Tag Archives: patience

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

 

 

Advertisements

Special Needs Parenting Introduction

 Special Needs Parenting Cover

Today I am sharing with my readers an excerpt from the introduction of my book, Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving.

I have hit the bottom of the tank today. We had our annual review at the school, and it’s so hard to hear in concrete terms how delayed my son is. I know it. None of this information is new, but it’s so hard to hear again. I worry about his future, let alone how we will afford all of his therapies today. Every single day there is so much to do that I feel I can barely keep up. The needs are unending, and I am not nearly enough.

—Blog Post, Anonymous

 Have you ever been that parent? I have. My experience isn’t exactly the same as my friend’s recent blog post, but it resonates in many ways. Challenging behaviors at school? Yes! Worry about my son’s future? Yes! Endlessly running around to therapy appointments? Yes! A sense at times of being overwhelmed in day-to-day parenting? Yes! A view of the future shaded by anxiety? Yes!

Our journeys as special needs parents are as varied as the differences among our children. Each child is unique and precious in the sight of God, and there is no other exactly like our own. Yet there are common challenges and common experiences shared among us as special needs parents. As clergy, I have led a variety of parenting support groups for more than five years and it never ceases to amaze me that, regardless of how varied the diagnoses within each family, there are common cords that bind us together emotionally and spiritually. Throughout the years I have seen healing of deeply held emotional and spiritual wounds through coming together in a supportive, welcoming Christian community and working through our challenges together.

My journey toward writing Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving began years ago when members in my congregation asked me to lead a Bible study for special needs parents. I looked for a resource I could grab off a bookstore shelf that would address the emotional and spiritual concerns of the special needs parents and had limited success. I was in the midst my studies in a doctoral program at the time and I realized that I had found an area of tremendous need for resources within the church. This epiphany changed not only my academic focus, but the trajectory of my ministry.

Through my personal journey as a special needs mom, my experiences as clergy walking with families with special needs, and academic research into how best to build family resilience, I developed a seven-week study. Each chapter addresses a common challenge and offers a positive perspective grounded in scripture and practical tools that can be revisited again and again.

  • God and Special Needs
  • Understanding Chronic Grief
  • Breaking Free from Guilt
  • Tools to Increase Patience
  • Self-care for Caregivers
  • Building Healthy Relationships
  • Hope and Healing

Whether parents read Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving as part of a small group study or read it individually, I pray this book provides both insights into a loving God and practical tools for the journey ahead. Encouraging special needs parents is at the heart of my calling in ministry, and I hope that the book will be a blessing.

Next week I will share a passage from chapter six, Building Healthy Relationships.

Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving is available at Huff Publishing and Amazon.

Blessings,

Lorna

Papa, Patience and Power

Driving

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NRSV)

Throughout my father’s life I saw him change and grow.  He wasn’t always the most patient person, but really, who is?  I can be at the head of the line myself some days. In hindsight ,I think my dad dealt with a lot of stress that he kept to himself.  I was shielded from it, but I think that just made his load heavier at times.  Through the gift of a life well-lived and experiences taken to heart, he mellowed over the years. I remember one time riding in the car with him when he was in his sixties and he missed a stop light.  As he stopped the car, he turned to me and winked, “Now I’m first!  Looking at it that way, it has no control over me. I took its power away.”

That has always stayed with me.  There have been times I have felt powerless in the midst of a situation, especially when watching my child struggle.  I think of my dad’s wise words at times like that. When worry, frustration, grief, etc. get a toehold (or a death grip!), I use my dad’s wisdom of trying to see it from a different perspective. How can I take away the power of something that has negative control and needs to be weeded from my life?

In Psalm 51, the psalmist writes, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NRS)

This is a psalm of returning to God and turning away from sin.  I think that same idea applies here.  Asking God for a clean heart, a fresh start, a new attitude creates a new perspective. It gives the power and glory to God in all things.

Prayer:    Patient God, Thank you for the power to renew and refresh and put our hearts in the right place. Give us a fresh view of the world full of wonderful possibilities. Amen.

Photo: “Driving In Car In Fall” by digidreamgrafix