Tag Archives: fruit of the Spirit

The Price of Patience – My Special Education, Lesson #6

Being Jon’s mom and caregiver requires a lot of waiting. Waiting for him to get up, waiting for him to get dressed, waiting for him to eat, waiting for him to get in the car, waiting for him to get out of the car, waiting for him to cooperate, waiting for him by staying home when I’d rather not.

Always waiting. Waiting and more waiting. It feels like a large percentage of my existence is about waiting for Jon.

All this Jon waiting has somehow earned me the ‘patient person award’ according to many folks who are acquainted with our situation. cat

I’ve been told more times than I can count, what a patient person I am, as if I came by it naturally, like my hair or eye color or the big round birthmark on my right knee cap; as if I was born with patience already piled high in my chromosomes and it was this propensity for patience that qualified me to be Jon’s mom when God was handing out kids in Heaven one day.

“I don’t know how you do it,” is what people often tell me.

There are days I don’t know either.

What I do know is patience is not natural to the human psyche (even mine), and any I’ve collected so far has come at an enormous price. It is obtained through continual acts of giving self away and deciding to love unconditionally, by intentional practice, careful perseverance and persistent prayer.

Sometimes that prayer is nothing more than the desperate cry, “Help!”

I’ve found acquiring patience to be very costly, demanding and at times, downright painful.

2 Peter 1:5-8, lists eight virtues we should add to our character. One of them is patience. The word ‘add’ in this passage implies that we’re missing something, haven’t mastered it yet and like a diligent student, need to continue learning and practicing until we’re skilled. There’s nothing here that implies it will be easy.

Everyone I know resists the school of patience, wishing for the degree without going to class.

Many years ago as our youngest son, David, and I waited in a very long concession line at a movie theater, I witnessed a scene I’ll never forget.  The young man working the counter accidentally spilled a large coke he had just poured for the customer in front of us.

The sticky mess spread all over the counter, ran under the cash register and started dripping to the floor. The station had to be closed while the mess was cleaned up and everyone waiting in our line had to move over to the end of another longer one.

The man behind us, who’d already been mumbling in my ear about the long wait, immediately exploded into rage, yelling and swearing at the poor employee, calling him names and announcing his incompetence for the entire lobby to hear.

Sadly, this man had his young son, possibly nine or ten years old, standing next to him and Dad was setting a model for an impressionable young mind, that was less than exemplary.

I remember thinking how this guy needed to live with our Jon or someone like him for a while so he could possibly experience an all inclusive transformation into a man with a speck of mercy instead of a selfish out-of-control fool; red faced, eyes bulging, veins popping and mouth contorted, spewing anger and insults, over a spilled coke! 

In that moment I silently prayed for my children to never have to watch me acting like this man. I asked God to teach me to be more patient when life doesn’t go my way and humans don’t behave according to my expectations.

Most of us come into the world kicking and screaming. We demand our rights from the very first breath. We are selfish from birth. Our level of patience or lack thereof reveals our true self and it grows in how we respond to the various circumstances encountered throughout life, situations that test, stretch and challenge us to the core. plant hope growth in rocks survivor

Colossians 3:12-13 tells me to “put on patience” with the idea that if I decide what to wear when I get dressed in the morning, I can also choose to be patient today, right now, even this minute.

It might feel impossible initially, but as God meets, with His grace, my desire to endure, patience grows in the midst of any inconvenience, hardship or annoyance a day might bring.

I admit, being the perpetual mom of a guy whose quirky behavior often pushes me to the limits of my own patience can be tricky. But because of my son, I’m continuously pressed into patience. I certainly didn’t start out with much but Jon helps me grow this character fruit a little more everyday.

There are worse things I could be doing than waiting a little longer, laying aside my time and desires for another and learning to let go when life doesn’t fit my preconceived conditions.

Jesus patiently put aside everything for me, His own rights and even His life and in reaching for the unlimited grace and goodness of the One whose greatest joy is to lovingly improve me, I can do no less for my son or for others.

2 Peter 1: 5-8 “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

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…”

Philippians 3:3-8 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Self Control or Patience? I’ll Take an Order of Both, Please!

I took Jon to Wendy’s fast food restaurant the other day…well…let’s say, I tried.

He emerged from his room in the early afternoon, around 1pm, desperately needing a shower, shave and change of clothes and headed for the garage to get in the car; his signal that, ” I’d like to go someplace now.”

I told him there would be no going anywhere looking like he just crawled out from under a rock. He frowned and shuffled back inside to the bathroom.

By the time we got in the car, Jon had showered, put on clean clothes and it was almost 7:30 pm. 

He was also wearing a plastic headband with paper Mickey Mouse ears taped to it, garden gloves and a flowered belt from my closet. Random items were tucked between the belt and his waist, a plastic sword, a drumstick, a long glow stick with a bright red heart on the end and several other unidentified objects.

He handed me a note and I stared at the scrawled print trying to figure out what it said. Considering the way he was decorated, I had a feeling I already knew.

I deciphered the words, DISENI and MIKEY MOSE and realized I was correct. He wanted to go to Disney. 

Problem number one, it was already late and we don’t live in Kissimmee anymore. From there, Disney was a fifteen minute drive. Now that we’re located thirty miles north of Orlando, Disney is an hour away, maybe more depending on interstate traffic.

Problem number two, our Disney passes expired several years ago and Jon doesn’t understand it costs a bundle to get in the park and is barely worth the price when you’re staying all day. Forget it if you’re showing up an hour or two before it closes. 

I handed the note back, “Sorry Dude, it’s too late to go to Disney now. You took so long getting ready we don’t have much time to go anywhere. How about Wendy’s or McDonalds. They’re both open late.”

He scowled as he took the note back and turned it over. I waited another ten minutes until he finally wrote WEDYS on the back. By the time we pulled into Wendy’s parking lot it was 8:05pm.

I shut off the car and told him that his costume was pretty impressive but “If you don’t want people staring at you all night then you better take all that stuff off and leave it in the car.”

Sometimes he cares about that, other times, not. He carefully took everything off except the flowered belt. 

I got out of the car and walked over to wait for him near the door. It was now 8:30. 

Jon stayed in the car at least another ten minutes trying to decide what he wanted to bring inside. Finally the door opened and another five minutes passed, then two legs appeared beneath. 

After several minutes went by he stood up. He remained statue still in that spot for about five minutes. 

He finally shut the door and stayed next to the car for nearly ten minutes, pushing buttons on an imaginary keypad under the door handle. 

I pulled out my remote and hit the lock button. The horn beeped. Jon frowned. 

It took him another eight minutes to walk from the car to the sidewalk curb. Once he was actually on the sidewalk that led to the entrance, I went inside, sat down at a table near the window and continued to watch his slow progress toward the door.

While I watched, a woman who had passed me thirty minutes prior, as I waited on the sidewalk, finished eating and came back by me to leave. She glanced out the window at Jon, who was slowly making his way to the door in intermittent starts and pauses.

“Are you with him?” She asked.

“Yes.” I forced a smile. 

I was hungry and tired of waiting. Honestly, I really wanted to go outside and give my kid a big boot in the behind with my foot to get him moving. It took every ounce of self control I had and a lot of Jesus talking to stay in that chair and keep waiting. 

I also realized if someone saw me do that, I’d probably be in handcuffs for assaulting a disabled person in Wendy’s parking lot. So I stayed put and prayed for more patience and grace and tried to put my thoughts on something other than my snail slow child.

“Is he your son?” the woman asked, not waiting for an answer. “I’m a special ed teacher in Orlando,” she continued.”It sure takes a lot of patience sometimes doesn’t it?”


“Yes it does,” I replied, “And I think I’m about to run out if he doesn’t get in here pretty soon.”

I smiled again, hoping she wouldn’t think worse of me for what I’d just said. She was trying to complement me after all.

Her preschool size grandson was pulling on her, stretching her arm so far he slid sideways to the floor. He was ready to go and I found myself wishing Jon was like him; wishing I could be over the agonizing amount of waiting that happens whenever I take Jon any place. 

The woman smiled back. “You are a very patient person,” she said. 

I was thankful what I was really feeling wasn’t showing on the outside.

I realized then that we easily confuse self control with patience. I was anything BUT patient right then. My ability, by God’s grace, to control myself when I wanted to do anything but had been perceived as patience.

“Thank You God, for self control,” I said out loud to God and myself as she turned to leave.  

Self control isn’t a popular topic in our impatient culture but it’s such a crucial foundation to the other character qualities we need. Love, peace, endurance, tolerance, kindness, gentleness, patience all start with putting self aside for the good of another.

Proverbs 25:28 states, A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Sounds to me like a place left defenseless. Without self control, all boundaries are gone and every destructive thing has access to our life.

My outing with Jon didn’t end any better than it started. He came through the restaurant door at 9:25pm. We ordered by 9:40 and I sat back down while Jon took his time at the soda machine and condiment counter. 

I ate quickly and was booting up my laptop, relaxing into a few hours of writing time, when the manager walked back to let me know they were closing. 

We had to leave.

“At 10 o’clock?” I asked in disbelief. Hadn’t I seen advertisements, posters and billboards announcing Wendy’s late night hours all over the place? 

Jon hadn’t even sat down yet. He was still pumping ketchup into little paper cups.

I sighed, put my laptop away and readied myself for the struggle coming to get him back out the door he had just come through.

Thank God for self control. 

Like my good friend Glee always says, “Just ‘cause self control is last on the list doesn’t mean it’s not important,”

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..