I am not a patient person. I don't know if I've always been this way, but I'm certainly low on patience lately. It's not a good thing.
I hate waiting at red lights, and I'm one of those people who will go to whichever lane has the fewest cars in it. I check to see which cars look like they'll move the fastest (i.e. soccer mom van vs. a Mustang? Clearly, the Mustang will win.)
I get frustrated with every single driver in this town that does not use a blinker when turning or pulling into a parking spot. I missed the memo on not using your blinker whenever in the downtown square of Lincoln, IL. I guess I should join the rest of the community on this one.
I hate waiting for people to e-mail me back, call me back, or text me back. I prefer instant communication, even though there's a little bit of fun in the anticipation.
I don't like worrying, because it seems to go hand in hand with impatience. They both contribute to each other. When I'm worried, I become stressed. When I become stressed, I become impatient. When I am all of these things, as of late, in combination with being cold, I clench my jaw. I woke up in the middle of the night 2 nights ago with sore teeth and a painful jaw, which I am now calling "stress jaw" (thanks to Chels).
But all of these things lead me elsewhere. Impatience does not show love. Just the other day at our SFG (small group, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about), Lindsey and I were reading with our girls from a Max Lucado book and the chapter just happened to be about God's love in the form of patience. (Mind you, this is directly following my driving us to the coffeeshop behind a slow old lady driver...at which I complained the entire time.)
It turns out, it's not a coincidence that Paul lists patience as the first description of love in his long list of what love is and is not in I Cor. 13. Before love is kind, it is patient. Before it trusts, hopes, or perseveres, it is patient. Before it is not easily angered, it is patient. Before the fact that it never fails, love is patient.
It seems as though I fail at loving people when I become impatient. Well, it doesn't seem that way, it IS that way. I need more patience. I need to love more.
But before I can extend it, I need to acknowledge the source. God is love. God is patient. I'm thankful that He is. Otherwise, He'd have given up on me by now. I've thrown enough red lights in His path saying "wait, I'm not ready to give this up yet" or "I can do it on my own" or "I'll just go ahead and stick with my plans or do this my way." Instead of getting frustrated and honking His horn, He just sits and waits for me to give Him the green light. I have turned my own way without giving Him a blinker of warning, and He remains patient. I'm glad I'm not Him. But I'm glad He is who He is. He is love. He is patient.
I'm thankful that He is "slow to anger and quick to love." My human nature leans toward the opposite. His grace can only be administered because He is patient. And that just reminded me of Romans 5:8--"while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." He didn't wait for us to change. He just took action while we were still sinners. He didn't get mad. Instead he chose love. He still does today.
So why am I impatient? It's silly, really. Just because someone in front of me didn't use a blinker? Just because I haven't heard from someone in awhile? Just because I have to wait 30 seconds at a red light? Just because I'm already cold and I can't make it until warm weather comes back? I have a feeling the cold is going to get worse, and that all stoplights are not going to turn green when I approach, and that not everyone in Lincoln is going to start properly using their blinkers.
Why am I in such a hurry? After all, grace comes in the form of love, which comes disguised as patience. Waiting is not always fun. But it can change you. It's working on me.