Sunday, May 3, 2020

PATIENCE is a Virtue

“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5:22-23) 
Photo Credit: Susan Lowry Hare
In a letter to the Christians in the town of Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote about nine good things the Holy Spirit can bring into our lives if we will allow Him to direct our thoughts and actions.  Paul called these “fruit of the spirit,” and he included PATIENCE on the list. (Some Bible translations will use the words “forbearance,” “endurance,” or “long-suffering” to refer to patience.)

Patience is the ability to handle waiting, delays, interruptions, and problems without whining or complaining. That’s a tough one for anyone who is human! After all, haven’t we all gotten impatient at times when we have to wait in a check-out line, when our food comes late in a restaurant, or when we want to talk to someone who never seems to get off the phone?  And most people can relate to jokes about our kids crying out, “Are we there yet?” when we’re on the road for a family vacation.

Have a family conversation about some of the times that it can be difficult to show patience without the help of the Holy Spirit.  Children might think about how hard it is to wait for a birthday party to come around, or a fun vacation, or even just waiting for dinner! And most kids will relate to how hard it can be to wait our turn when we’re playing a game.

Baking provides a great opportunity to talk abut the importance of patience for good outcomes. Consider how Chelsea at Moments a Day uses baking to teach her children about patience, and then either talk about it with your kids, or guide them through a baking experience (try making banana bread, blueberry muffins, or a chocolate cake) to make the lesson come to life:
Whether it’s waiting patiently while little brother has his turn stirring, or waiting that five extra minutes – that feels like forever – for the oven to get to the correct temperature, there are small opportunities one after another that require my kids to practice patience throughout the experience. 
I ask questions like: What if we do not wait for everything to be stirred properly, and rushed through this step so that lumps of flour were not mixed up?  What if we took the muffins out before they were cooked, and half of each muffin was still wet batter?  They see through real life examples that the results of the activity would not be the same if they did not patiently do each job as it was supposed to be done. 
Even roasting marshmallows over the fire pit can present an opportunity to talk about the benefits of patience. After all, don't we all have to demonstrate patience to wait for that perfect level of goo-iness for the ideal s'more?

You might be familiar with the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment from the 1970s, where children could choose between one small reward (a marshmallow) immediately, or two rewards if they were willing to wait for a period of time.  You can try a version of this with your own children to start up a conversation about waiting, patience, and delayed gratification:

Put a favorite treat (like a gummy bear, M&M, marshmallow, or Teddy graham) in one bowl, and a handful of the treat in another bowl. Give your child this choice: “You can have a treat, but you have to choose: You can have the first bowl with only one treat in it before dinner, or you can wait and have the second bowl with the handful of treats in it after dinner. Are you willing to wait patiently until after dinner to have a lot more treats?”

You can follow up with a conversation: Which did you choose? Why did you make that choice? Do you think you showed patience, or not, with your choice? Do you think you made the best choice? Why or why not? (I recommend making space for their own individual opinions; they may have an interesting argument to offer!)

Coloring Page
Parents, we are the role models of patience for our children. How do we behave when our order runs late at the restaurant, when we are caught up in traffic or someone is slow to turn at a light, when the doctor is running late with her appointments and we’re stuck in the waiting room with our kids? Our children are watching us and taking their cues from us. Let’s be open to God’s promptings to develop the fruit of patience in our own lives, as well.

If you missed the earlier posts on fruit of the spirit, you can find them here:

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