September 11, 2014

Don't Pray for Patience

Don’t pray for patience.

Because “ask and ye shall receive.”

And you know what strings are attached to that prayer? Lots of situations that are supposed to teach you patience.

But guess what. This week, I didn’t want to be taught patience. I didn’t want to have to experience frustrating circumstances (and sometimes people) that make my day awful, but along the way are supposed to help me learn patience. I just wanted to have it. No strings attached.

"You sound a little impatient, Mommy."
So this afternoon, instead of sincerely begging, “Lord, please bless me with more patience!”, I came up with a new prayer. Now, I am simply praying for perspective.

“Lord, please give me better perspective.

Perspective that will help me to see the world through Your eyes. Perspective that will work like taking a chill pill and will last me a solid 8-12 hours. Perspective that will remind my brain to stay calm, and my heart to stay loving towards others. Perspective that will not make me act like (and probably look like) a raging hornet as I go about my day.”

I pray for perspective, because perspective tells me to “lighten up, Francis.” (Just like my Dad had to tell me way too many times growing up.)

Perspective tells me to laugh a little. (Which is much better than crying in the car on your way home after getting lost and missing your child's doctor appointment.) 

So here is how I wish I had perceived the series of unfortunate but unimportant events of this week. Here is what my attitude should have been:

“I love that I have the opportunity to snuggle with my one-year-old at 5 a.m. while she cuts molars. Because I have always wanted to know what it’s like to snuggle with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

“I don’t mind at all that my chap stick is completely soaked with spit from Jocelyn sucking on the tube all morning. Because I have always wanted to know what it’s like to make out with a camel.”

“It’s okay that I came back from the bathroom to find Jocelyn’s rice and vegetable lunch moved from her plate to covering the kitchen floor. Because it looks like confetti! And I love surprises!”

“It doesn’t matter that Google maps gave me incorrect directions twice in the past week. Because Sunday isn’t the only day for a nice, long joyride.”

“It doesn’t matter that I woke Jocelyn up from a nap to take a  drive, get lost, and completely miss her doctor’s appointment. Because waking a sleeping child up from their nap is worthy of an episode of ‘Moms Gone Wild!’”

“I don’t mind that the Target lady keeps badgering me with reason after reason why I should sign up for a Target card. Because maybe she was on a state championship debate team in high school or something, and is now just freshening up her skills before she attends law school.”

“I don’t mind when insomnia keeps me up a few hours after the time I wished to go to sleep. Because it makes my dreams of being awake in a completely quiet house without any messes being made come true!”

“I don’t mind that I tried four times to hang that little shelf, and have now poked four holes into the drywall and have broken four plastic anchors. Because I always wanted to have a wall that looks like Swiss cheese.”

“I don’t care that our daughter can’t seem to learn, no matter how much we discipline her, that it is not okay to slap people in the face. Because that insomnia has me kind of tired this afternoon, and I needed a nice wake-up call.”

You see? Perspective is everything.

Perspective tells me what is important. That the people in my life are more important and more valuable to me than any to-do list I never accomplished.

Perspective tells me to be grateful for what I have, and who and what is right in front of me.

Perspective tells me that even when I don’t feel like a patient person, I can be at peace with the knowledge that my day and all of its happenings are in God’s hands.

Perspective, most importantly, tells me that my life is not about me. And if, on this very day my life is meant to be a series of unfortunate yet unimportant events for the improvement of my character to be just a smidge more like Christ and in some way benefit those around me, then let it be my pleasure.

So will I really stop praying for patience? Of course not. 

But as I experience those daily grind circumstances that are teaching me patience, but are also putting my wires on the fritz, I need to pray for perspective. Perspective that keeps my eyes and my heart focused not on myself, but on Christ and on those He has entrusted into my care. 

Perspective that reminds me of God's clear will for my life: to Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.

"What then are we to do about our problems? We must learn to live with them until such time as God delivers us from them…we must pray for grace to endure them without murmuring. Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly." - A.W. Tozer 

Grace and Peace,