Impatience – How to Eliminate Impatience
I love the story of the little girl who became impatient and restless as the preacher’s sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, “Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?”
We all smile at this cute little story about impatience, but impatience is not something to smile about. It creates unnecessary stress, damages relationships, and prevents us from enjoying life.
If there is one thing I think all people universally hate, it is having to wait. Yet, it is important to understand that my innate hatred of having to wait does not automatically cause me to become impatient. Sometimes having to wait causes me to get impatient, sometimes it does not. That’s good news, because if having to wait does not automatically cause me to become impatient, then there is hope that I can begin to eliminate this unhealthy response.
Impatience - What really does cause impatience?
Very simply, impatience is the result of being delayed from having the world be the way we think it needs to be, right now. Impatience starts as a thought process, and is triggered by a delay. If I think I need to get the family to school on time, I’ll become impatient with my kids when they don’t get dressed quickly enough, causing our departure to be delayed. If I think I need to get in and out of the bank quickly, and the teller chats with all the customers ahead of me, I’ll get impatient. It’s my belief that I need, not just desire, something right now, that causes impatience. In other words, it’s the delay in getting something I think I need, that causes the impatience.
The more important it is to have things be a certain way right now, the more impatient I will become if I get delayed. If I’m delayed at a railroad crossing by a train when I’m out for a leisurely drive, I probably won’t become too impatient. But if I’m racing to the hospital with my wife in the car and she’s about to give birth to our child, any delay at a railroad crossing will understandably produce impatience. The intensity of our impatience tells us how much we think we need to achieve our own agenda right now and how much we are not trusting God’s timing for our life.
Some mornings on my way to the office I pull into a gas station to get gas. Sometimes I have to wait in line. Although it may be a little inconvenient, the wait doesn’t usually bother me all that much. But just this morning I got impatient when I was delayed twenty minutes by a long line of cars in front of me. My impatience exposed my belief that I needed (not just desired) to get to my office on time before my first client arrived.
When I became impatient this morning, I was not choosing to believe God was in control and that His plan and timing were best. I was not choosing to trust God’s promise to cause “all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28). As a result, the delay in getting what I thought I needed caused me to become impatient.
In order to better deal with my impatience this morning, it would have been helpful to remind myself of these truths, and then say something like, “God, even though I really wanted to get to the office on time, I’m going to choose to trust you that you have a good purpose in this delay, and that your timing is perfect.”
Impatience – The Solutions
Simply put, the solution to impatience is learning to trust God for how things turn out in our world. More specifically, we need to trust that God’s timing and purpose for things is good, even when our plans are delayed. Instead of trying to control people and things to accomplish our goals according to our schedule, we need to “fight the good fight of faith” and choose to trust God’s outcome, no matter what it is and how long it takes.
When we choose to remind ourselves that because God is good, and His love and grace are enough, we can trust Him for how our day turns out, even in the midst of delays. Over time, with God’s help, we will find ourselves becoming more patient.
Compliments of Bob and Judy Hughes, www.lovefocused.com