When I was growing up, we used to have an album (yes, vinyl) that we would listen to a lot.  One of the songs on the albums was called “Have Patience” and I have to tell you that I think it was specifically designed to teach that I didn’t have patience.

That song just lumbered slowly along like the SUV I was following the other day, mercilessly subjecting everybody else to its own schedule (no, I did not take that picture while I was driving – I found it on Flickr).

Have patience
Have patience
Don’t be in such a hurry
When you get
You only start to worry

Have Patience from Bullfrogs and Butterflies

And here’s what I learned about patience – go slow and chill out. I learned to do “patient” things.  I learned to endure quietly.  But, I think that is an incomplete view of patience because it only addressed the speed of action and my emotional response to waiting.  They were missing something.

Patience has a point.  There is a purpose to patience – it might be simple survival or it might be to take over the world – but patience has purpose.

The Point of Patience

The point of patience is not actually waiting or being predisposed to inaction or with being powerless to affect change.  The point of patience is not necessarily to relax.  The point of patience is simply to take action at the right time.

Athletes understand this.  Military generals understand it too.  They can be patient in the face of great frustration because they are waiting for the right time to do something.

Waiting is important – but only important until it’s time to stop waiting and take action.  Emotions are important.  It’s important to both control and harness emotion.  But denying that there is a goal or that we’re experiencing emotion is futile.  In fact, I’d go so far to say that denying emotion and purpose are unbiblical.

Think for a moment about King David, Moses, Abraham, and the Apostle Paul.  While none were perfect, each was goal-oriented and (mostly) patient yet open with their emotions.  Jesus expressed deep frustration, yet remained patient.  In fact, the Bible goes so far to tell us that God is not slow, but is patient with a purpose (2 Peter 3:9).

My Struggle with Patience

If I look at patience this way, I see that most of my struggles with patience have been related to my emotional response to waiting and not knowing when the “right time” is.  And while I’ve often not felt patient, I have sometimes actually been patient.  Other times I have felt patient but, in retrospect, I was just slow.

But I can tell you from the few times I’ve gotten patience right, it’s worth it.  I think specifically of waiting for my wife, which took a little while but was well worth it.  I often didn’t feel patient but I waited.  And when I realized I’d found her and that the time was right, we were married within months.

I waited patiently – with purpose and expectation – even though I didn’t feel like it.  And when I saw that it was right, I moved.

How about you?

When have you been patient?
Do you struggle with emotion?
How has patience worked out for you?

Image credit: kingoftv

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