Friday, August 10, 2012

PATIENCE: wait Joyfully!

“Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”- Joyce Meyer

Why is it that patience is one of the hardest fruits of the Spirit to practice as a Christian? Maybe you're like me- you have patience for children and waiting in long lines at the ice cream store, but when it comes to people walking slow in front of you or when in traffic and driving, you have ABSOLUTLEY none! But, I'm talking about patience when it comes to things that are a bit more significant ;)

I know that a huge part of what makes waiting so hard is the fact that we live in a society that demands instant gratification. The new college grad wants the Vice President job at a top company that pays $100,000 a year, the new married couple wants to buy the more expensive house that they can't really afford, with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, and the teenager can't wait to be out of the house and treated like an adult. You're getting my drift I'm sure. . .The truth of the matter is that most people these days don't want to start at the bottom and WORK and WAIT to get to where they want to be.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of wanting instant gratification at times. A great example would be when I graduated college. I wanted the perfect teaching job right away. It never even crossed my mind that I might have to do something else for awhile if I didn't get a teaching job when I had planned to. Life being what it is, things did NOT go as Jessica had planned. I had to substitute teach, clean houses, work as a receptionist, and nanny all in a period of two years before I got hired at school full time. Did I enjoy working up to three jobs at a time? No, I hated that I had to work weekends and nights more than anything.  Were any of those jobs anything that I really wanted for myself? No. Did I always have a good attitude about having to work those other jobs? NO WAY. I had just spent four years in college to be a teacher and the day after graduation, I expected to get my dream job immediately.

I have friends who are in their later 20's and 30's who have been waiting for what they feel like has been forever, for a spouse and family, to buy a house of their own without roommates, and for jobs that would allow them to be fincially sound. I have watched these friends continuously wait for one or more of these things to happen in their lives and have noticed that some of them are really good at being patient, while others aren't. Some of them have days where they are doing good in their waiting process, and then days where they just are so done and wonder if God even has these desires of their hearts planned for their lives at all. But then, I've also witnessed patience pay off for some of them too!

Joyce Meyer who is my favorite Christian preacher, really caught my attention one day when I was listening to her podcast when she said, “Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” She also went on to say that we will spend majority of our lives waiting for something, so why not enjoy the wait. It clicked for me how true that statement really is. If we are spending 95% of our lives waiting, why not enjoy life while we wait? That's what God wants us to do. Many of us have all these plans for our lives, and while they may or may not be a part of His plan, we cannot make them happen whenever is convenient for us:

“Timing is so important! If you are going to be successful in dance, you must be able to respond to rhythm and timing. It’s the same in the Spirit. People who don’t understand God’s timing can become spiritually spastic, trying to make the right things happen at the wrong time. They don’t get His rhythm – and everyone can tell they are out of step. They birth things prematurely, threatening the very lives of their God-given dreams.” ~ T. D. Jakes

I absolutley love this quote in every way! Looking back on those two years where basically nothing went the way I had planned, I learned so much about myself and what it truly meant to work hard. I did a lot of things that I didn't want to do, but it has all paid off and I know that I would not be the same person I am today if it weren't for that experience. I also grew so much closer to God! I honestly believe with all my heart that He makes us wait and go through storms because He simply wants us to grow in our walk with Him- it's like He slows us down to get our attention, which enables Him to do a huge work in us so that we become better and more like Him- "He must become greater; I must become less"- John 3:30. I know that for a fact because if I had gotten everything I wanted WHEN I wanted it, it would have been a disaster because I simply wasn't ready and had so much to learn before He finally decided to bring me to where I am now. I didn't enjoy the ride every day in the beginning, but after awhile I learned to because I got to a point in my relationship with God where I truly trusted Him and where He was taking me. . .even if I didn't understand it one bit! I got to a place where I could have a good attitude and be joyful every day. . .well, most days anyway :) Thanks to this experience, I have gotten so much better about how I wait for things. I'm a human being of course, so even though I've gotten better at waiting, its still not easy. I can honestly tell you that I am in another waiting period in my life right now, but that I am experiencing more good days than bad days because I trust God, which is giving me so much peace and joy!

This is one of my favorite scriptures of all time and God has put it on my heart to share it right now,"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps"- Proverbs 16:9

As hard as it can be, we need to continue to tell God the desires of our heart and simply trust Him and His timing and not take it upon ourselves to try and make our plans happen prematurely.  Often times, it seems like He ends up delivering a better plan than we did in the first place, so why ruin it? We need to enjoy life while we wait for whats to come. Another favorite verse of mine,"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it"- Psalm 118:24. I wake up almost every day with this verse in my head. Does it always mean I end up being joyful and glad that day? No, but it sure helps me get started with the right attitude! A step in the right direction!

As Joyce said, we are always waiting for something. Big and or little things. We may want to be promoted in a job, we may want to be the fastest in next year's race, want to start a family, to travel the world, start a restaurant. . .you name it. We all have a thing or two on our list, but chances are we aren't going to get it right away and that things will not go exactly as you planned- I know we all already know this too well. It may mean that you're going to have to work very hard in a job or jobs that you don't really want to work at, God may ask you to do things that you don't really want to do and you may end up waiting way longer than you ever imagined. Most people don't get anywhere without having to work hard to get to where they want to be, right? We need to remember that everyone has to start somewhere, even if it's at the VERY bottom. God wants us to learn and grow during our waiting process, and we all know that that means life won't always be sunshine and rainbows.  And if you love God and Trust Him through the waiting, you'll get blessed beyond what you ever thought possible. A verse I'd like to end on that is my VERY favorite verse of all time is this, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose"- Romans 8:28

Oops, I actually have one more verse I want to share because it is so important to PRAY and give thanks to God constantly, especially when we are having to practice patience: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God"- Phillippians 4:6