Let me be real for a minute. Patience has not always come easily for me. I raise 4 children, aged 8 months to 10 years. I currently homeschool one, potty train another, wake up with my baby at night, and send another off to school. My days are busy, hectic, and filled with beautiful moments. There are days where I wish I had more patience, and days where I feel like I have failed. Yet if you were to ask my friends or my children about me, they would likely tell you I am a patient and calm person. It has not always come naturally, but in those overwhelming irritating moments I focus on one simple yet powerful thought – it’s not about me.
The other day I had one child throwing up, one child crying, one child asking for help with school work, and a husband trying to talk to me. It was overwhelming. Almost everyday is. I could feel the burning anger welling up inside me. Wanting to burst. Wanting the noise to stop, to be left alone. To stop caring for them, just for a moment. I deserve peace, don’t I? After all, look at everything I do!
If I lost my temper, if I yelled, if I retreated to my own interests and shut them out it would only make things worse. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Slow to become angry. Easier said than done. But the only time anger is good is when it is righteous, and selfless. I have found the way to diffuse anger, the way to have patience in those trying times can all be taken care of by one simple thing…. empathy. Putting myself in the shoes of another. What are they going through right now?
I looked into those teary eyes and I saw a little baby who was overtired and just wanted a nap. I looked at my other son and saw how sick and uncomfortable he was. My daughter had been patiently waiting for help, and was being ignored. Suddenly the frustration was gone. Suddenly what I wanted, didn’t matter so much.
See, whatever is in our hearts will come out. Some way, some how it reveals itself. The only way to deal with emotions and weed out unwanted behaviours in ourselves is to deal with the root; that is, our hearts and our thoughts. When you find yourself off track, the way back is always simple. Love. Empathy is a key element to love.
For those of you who are as human as I am, take this and hold it close to you. The next time you are angry or frustrated, consider the thoughts and feelings of the next person. Look to a solution, to what will bring you together rather than further apart. Empathy is the pathway to patience. Love is the antidote to anger. We are all people dealing with our own stresses and struggles, and at the end of day not all that different from each other.
Finally, be patient with yourself. Make sure you are taking care of yourself. I often find myself lacking in one area or another. I just can’t do it all all the time. That’s okay. What matters most is the relationships that are being built. Give yourself grace, space to keep learning, and patience. Find a way to take a break, without feeling guilty. The more love you can give yourself, the more you will have for others.