If you are anything like me (and by now you're probably hoping you're not), you probably utter the phrase "BE PATIENT" about 57 times per day. To your kids, to the dog, to your husband, maybe even to yourself.
"Son, if you interrupt me one more time while I am on the phone with the bank, I promise you things will not go well for you. BE PATIENT!"
"Sweetie, I know your brother stuck his finger on his bottom and then told you to smell it, but that's no excuse to hit him in the face. BE PATIENT!"
"Self, I know you want to punch a hole in the sheet rock right now and that there is an intense rage inside you that is aching to be released, but BE PATIENT!"
Easier said than done. It's sad but true, I often become impatient while disciplining my own children because they were impatient. Another irony of motherhood.
All that having been said, I have to brag on Emerson right now. A few months back she had a great triumph over impatience. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong place, and at the wrong time. Let me explain.
It's about 9:30pm, and in our home that means that the kids have been asleep for about two hours. Brandon and I had been doing our Bible study -- I mean, watching Survivor on TiVo, and when it was finished I suggested that we, ah...take a shower. Together. Hey, people, we are married, and married people have shower prayer time every night, right?
Anyway, we went in our bathroom, closed the door, and commenced to...showering. For a long time. Lots and lots of showering.
After we "showered," we ACTUALLY showered, and then we finally cut the water off. I opened my side of the shower curtain to lean out and get my towel, and I almost. had. a. heart. attack. Seriously, I almost fell on my back in the shower.
Seated DIRECTLY outside the shower, on her itty-bitty "Emerson" stool, was my five-year-old, with elbows on knees and chin in hands, staring. Just staring. Kind of like this kid:
I screamed. Loud. "EMERSON!"
I yanked the shower curtain closed and burst into nervous laughter. At this point my husband is laughing so hard he can't breathe.
I try to compose myself (as if that's possible as I am naked and in the shower with her father), and I pull the curtain back and poke my face out. "Um, sweetie, ahhh, what are you doing?"
"Well, I woke up and I needed to talk to you, so I came to find you. I heard you and Daddy in the shower, and you said it's rude to interrupt adults when they're talking, so I just sat on my stool. Aren't you proud of me, Mommy? I was VERY, VERY patient."
At this point my husband's not bothering to hide his laughter, and I am on the brink of hysteria, thinking that I have now scarred my daughter for life.
"Well, how long do you think you were sitting out there, honey?"
She thought hard for a minute, then answered, "I don't know, Mom. I'd say 10 minutes. You guys were in there a LONG time. And you were talking VERY loud."
Yes, yes we were. Talking. Very loud.
Too loud, obviously, when there are children in the house and our...talking...might wake them.
Then she asked me, "Mommy, why were you and Daddy getting a shower at the very same time?"
"Because...Mommy and Daddy were both very, very...dirty, Emerson. That's why. Now why don't you go in your room and get in bed and I'll be there in a minute."
"Okay. But I sure was patient, Mom! That was real good!" She hopped off her stool and trotted back into her room.
I turned and stared at my husband. He laughed. I worried. I worried that the next time in preschool her teachers asked her to fill in one of those "my parents are..." surveys, hers was gonna say something like, "My Mommy's favorite thing to do is...to get in the shower with Daddy when they are very, very dirty."
She, of course, forgot and hasn't mentioned it since. Either that or the story is now stored in her arsenal for use at the perfect future time.
In all seriousness, though (if that's even possible now) we try to focus on creating a patient atmosphere in our home. We encourage our children to be long-suffering. We try to teach them that what is immediate is not always what is best, that sometimes we have to be patient in order to really get what we want.
The problem is, with three small kiddos, patience is often hard to come by. It's easily taught but not easily retained. They struggle with it.
I struggle with it.
It's a daily battle.
God's Word encourages us all, young and old, to practice patience in all that we do. God sets the example for us:
"The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression..." Num. 14:18
"But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth." Psalm 86:15
He is so good and is 100% consistent in His patience with us. We could learn a bit from Him. The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:12-13:
"Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and PATIENCE, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." (emphasis mine)
I can't expect my children to be patient all the time. I guess I CAN expect them to be patient in the inopportune times, though! But, our job as mothers is to seek a heart of patience for OURSELVES so that WE are living testimonies of God's character to our children. That is how they learn. That is how they grow in maturity and in self control. That is how they look more like Jesus.
It's a tall order. It's a lot of work. It's not, by any stretch of the imagination, easy. But, imagine how our children might grasp the power of patience if they were to watch you and me treat others with the very same attitude, extending grace to others and loving them with Jesus' love. It's a challenge, and one that I believe we can and should accept. If you desire to see patience and peace reign in your home, I'd encourage you to pray right now that the Lord will start the heart-change with you and your husband. Go ahead, feel free to pray.
One more thing. I would recommend, very highly, that all doors be locked and all fart-fans turned on to drown out the "talking" next time you and your husband decide to "shower" together. You're welcome.