(Hold Your Horses print can be purchased here!)
The practice of patience toward one another, the overlooking of one another’s defects, and the bearing of one another’s burdens is the most elementary condition of all human and social activity in the family, in the professions, and in society. ~Lawrence G. Lovasik
I was 27 years old when I met her. Susan Ward was the kindest, most gracious woman I have ever known. Our sons went to school together and I had just graduated from medical school and was in residency training in family medicine. I was working 80 hours a week, sleep deprived, bearing a heavy weight of guilt because I missed things like field trips and volunteering to work the lunch line at my children’s school. I was short on sleep, short on patience, and short on friendship.
Susan had a smile a mile wide and the sweetest Mississippi accent. She introduced herself to me and invited my kids to play at her house after school. That was the beginning of a relationship that changed me and the way I have parented. I had never witnessed someone who was so patient and loving with her kids. She didn’t see them as a distraction or a nuisance and she was constantly teaching them and telling them stories.
I watched her every move; how she was so calm during her son’s meltdowns and easily diffused the situation, how she talked so kindly to her boys when she corrected them, and how she constantly reinforced good behavior. She loved those boys and everybody knew it—most certainly them. I can’t imagine how my life would be different if I hadn’t met her.
I still work at that kind of love and grace and patience, especially with the kids.
Life is stressful and there are a hundred reasons to lose your cool everyday. But, when you see someone show mercy and grace and kindness and patience, it stops you in your tracks. It’s not the normal way of the world. Susan’s way of living and being with her family changed the trajectory of my life. It so inspired me that I began to reevaluate all the relationships. Was I extending this kind of rare kindness, love, understanding, forgiveness, and patience to the people in my life?
I’ve spent a lifetime trying to grow up just like her.
Think about your own relationships. What word would describe how you relate and live and engage with your world? Are you always on edge? Do you constantly lose your cool? If you dared ask your children or your husband how patient and kind they find you to be, what would they say? Maybe it’s time to restart and rethink how you want your life to be. You have the power to change those poor habits and to do the hard work of relating in better ways. Don’t just pray for patience, practice it. Start today with the very people who try us and test us the most—our own families!
Challenge Day 20: Identify a recent situation where you felt stressed or tense and, as a result, snapped at a loved one. Reflect on how you could have handled the situation differently. What are some ways you can think of to alleviate tension in your day-to-day life?
Be sure to read Ruth’s corresponding post, Less Tension.