Back when I was a teenager, I was pretty certain that patience was one of my strengths. Then I got married. And had kids, ten of them. Since then I’ve discovered that my patience lasts only as long as life is going smoothly and everyone is being nice to me.
These days our home is full of teens. Most of us probably remember hard moments with our moms during our teen years, right? Well, it turns out being on the receiving end of all that teen angst is every bit as hard as being an unhappy teen. God is using this challenging season to teach me a thing or two about real patience.
Some days my store of patience feels bone-dry by noon. When I get snappy with my kids, without fail I feel frustrated with myself too. Here I am with all these good intentions—I passionately love my family. And yet, I’m doing exactly what I don’t want to do. It can be tempting to judge my success as a person by how well I’m performing and how happy the people are around me.
I understand Paul’s frustration in Romans 7:22-24 (NLT): “When I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me…?”
Thankfully Paul goes immediately on to remind himself—and me— in verse 25 of the source of his hope: “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Only by His power can I experience victory.
What about you? Do you fail at times in relationships, and then beat yourself up over those failures? Maybe it’s not a gaggle of teens currently stretching your limits. It could be a difficult boss, a challenging relative, or a time of great struggle in your marriage.
Here’s the beautiful truth to remember in exactly those moments. Whether you’re loving or whether you’re struggling, whether you’re perfectly patient or the grumpiest person you’ve met all day, His love for you remains unchanging.
Our value to Him is not dependent on our performance. We are precious in our Father’s eyes, always, no matter what. Remembering that truth has the power to calm our hearts and draw His peace deep into our lungs and soul and spirit. It can even make it easier to love the people around us more deeply, more fully, more unconditionally.
More like He loves us.
Mary Ostyn is the author of Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting (Nelson Books, November 4, 2014). Mary and her husband John live in Idaho where they are parents to ten children, including four daughters from Ethiopia and two sons from Korea. Mary blogs at owlhaven.net.