Thursday, April 21, 2016

in praise of patience

I have a clipboard, plain as can be, that holds my daily to-dos and my deep heart aims.  Under the top page with the week all lined out, I have pages of words that need to be revisited.  Often revisited.  Like today.

These words from an old Ann Voskamp post I edited slightly for flow (I selected these lines from throughout her longer, better post) but these are what I need tucked into my heart to blossom and bear some loving beautiful fruit this morning...

This is the order of love:
First love is patient. Patience is first a willingness to say thanks in suffering. 
Patience in the moment only comes from gratefulness for the moment. …. 
The inspired Words says that the foundation of love is first patience.
How can I be patient in the tipsiness of this domestic chaos?
How can I be patient in the pain of now?
Love is only patient if it’s first grateful for what is.
When I am not patient? My failure to love is first a failure to be grateful for who people are right now.
And my impatience is a result of my unthankfulness – I’m impatient for the children to be someone different, for the cashier to hurry up, for this to get done right now.
The more dissatisfied I am in this moment, the more discontented I am with who they are, with what is happening — the harder it becomes to be patient, to be loving.
Patient people dare to gratefully accept people where they are. Grateful for who they are now, appreciative of works of art not yet finished, but still deeply loved.
Patient people dare to receive the present always as a present — grace.
Patient people dare to live only in the present. Because they know that is where God is.
Lack gratitude — then lack patience — then, ultimately, lack love. To be love-full, I’ll first need to be grateful.

I need to remember this in parenting, perhaps more than anything.... but really, I need patient, grateful, trusting love in everything, every part of my life, every piece of my heart.  
When our child disobeys and an impatient spark of correction from a parent results in a long morning of refusal to listen, I am reminded again:  love is patient.  What if we had heard that first defiance and came to our child to say "I love you too much to let you disobey like that.  Dear, I want to help you know that this is not a path of blessing you're on right now and because I love you and want so much for your life to be blessed, for you to be in on the blessings I have planned for you today, I have to help you turn away from this disobedience."  
I think it would have gone a lot better than "That's enough!  You two, this is your discipline...." (One kid worked with us on this poor approach and took it honorably and moved on to make peace out of all of it.  But not the other child...) 
This quick discipline approach seems exquisitely consistent with my heart sense of justice and I-can-only-take-so-much-til-my-sanity-snaps.    But it seems that to those assumed and selfishly required "rights" of mine, Patience (Jesus) has a better word to speak.  
"Love my child."  

And yes, of course, we want to know our children's hearts.  We must seek for the whys and the "what's going on that you're choosing to do this?".  Hopefully that will be another way in to their hearts to show them they're loved.  Another way to point them to the wonder and the miracle and the mystery promised to us of the Gospel.  
I have no rights of my own to claim.   My justice, my sanity- they're not mine to defend or protect.  I'm called to lay them dow, to love.   His love for me is enough.  

The command to love our enemy is a command to find our hope and our satisfaction in God and his great reward — his future grace. The key to radical love is faith in future grace. We must be persuaded in the midst of our agony that the love of God is “better than life” (Psalm 63:3).   (- John Piper's devotional "Solid Joys"

So, John Piper is writing about loving enemies that may kidnap or kill you.... but sometimes, there are parental agonies that seem to come at least a little bit close to that, don't you think?

My Lord has every right to every part of me.  My desire for justice is to be born patiently, hemmed in and communicated with authority in love and firmness to bring about the blessing that we all really want most of all.  Make it so, Lord.  I am far from such selfless love on  my own.  Show your love through me, through us!  May our children know thy are deeply, soulfully, wholly loved.  May it be so, in me and in our home, for your glory Jesus. 


  1. Thank you for this good challenge and reminder

  2. I needed to read this today... having trouble with the oldest. He's getting better, struggling Middle Schooler. When he breaks my heart it's so hard to be patient. Love is patient.