Patience. I can truly say that I haven’t really had much of it throughout my life. Impatience was always a big part of who I was. Within the strands of my life, there have been many lessons that have led me to a better understanding of patience. I’m thinking deeply about it this morning.
I believe the early childhood trauma played a part in my impatience. My home life was very disheartening because of the constant dysfunctions of my parents. They were divorced, but still tried to make their marriage work for many years. They should have separated, or fixed their toxicity long before I was dragged through it. I was on the sidelines watching their madness, and witnessing their abusive relationship. As a boy, I just needed an example to follow. My examples were not good. I would watch my dad hit and cuss. I would hear him tell me things about my mother that no kid should hear. It was a long and rough life as I was growing up. As I look back, I now know that they did not know any other way.
That lack of security and uneasiness obscured everything that I was as a young boy. I remember the constant worry and fear that accompanied me everywhere I would go. I specifically remember being socially awkward at the time when I began to attend school. I never had brothers or sisters, and never really had much contact with other kids of my age until kindergarten began. I was pretty much void of social interaction with anyone but adult family up until that point. Most of my cousins were much older than me, so hanging with a kid was not something they had wanted to do. There were times where my school days were filled with impatience. I was so distraught from everything that was going on at home that my whole day at school was filled with stress. I felt terrible the entire day as I waited for my mother to pick me up from school. Sometimes in the middle of class I would burst into tears. I just wanted to go home. Impatiently, I would wait to escape that place where I had felt insecure, only to return to a place that was also insecure. Maybe I had felt that one day I would go home, and that security that I desperately needed would be there?
This went on for many years. All of what I just said went on, over and over, year after year. My patience was worn like a river rock. My self-esteem, my self-confidence and who I was becoming was not like most of those kids around me. I started to question myself. I really started to become very impatient and anxious as I was waiting on a change to come. A change at home. A change within myself. I was not like the rest of the kids, and I started to wonder why I was not encouraged to do anything by my parents. I now know that it was because of their toxic relationship, and their focus on it was priority. I was crying out for a place within something, but I was never shown a direction. I was never really encouraged.
Patience is the ability to endure difficult circumstances such as perseverance in the face of delay; tolerance of provocation without responding in annoyance/anger; or forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can have before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast. Antonyms include hastiness and impetuousness. -definition (Wikipedia)
By the time I was a teenager, I was fed up with waiting. My life became so engulfed by anger and bitterness towards my parents because of their unbeknownst negligence. I was becoming a person who really had no patience for anyone or anything. If something took too long, I would blow up. If my mother wouldn’t do something for me, I would cuss her out. If my day wasn’t going well, I would get wasted. If I needed something, I would steal it or steal money to get it. If the day felt long at school, I would leave. I was spoiled by my own reasoning. It made me a narcissistic, standoffish kid with no patience for the cruel world. I was rude to even the nicest people. On top of all of this, my parents were still caught up in their toxicity. I hated everything about my life.
Patience was gone.
In my adult years, I have developed. I grew up and learned from my mistakes, but honestly, the early learned behaviors, the trauma and unhealthy ways of development have taken years to reverse. I’m still a work in progress, and the lingering past has made it very difficult to ‘unlearn’ these old patterns. It’s kind of like finding a way through a labyrinth. A lot of dead-ends and turnarounds. Patience for me is sometimes hard, but not like it was. I make a conscious effort by observing myself from an outside view, very often. Self-awareness plays a huge part in my walk through this life in which I choose to live today. I’m becoming patient more and more with each coming day.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
These verses are kind of important to me for a number of reasons. It is interesting to see that when written, love was described as “patient.” When I was in those years of bitterness, and walked my path with little tolerance, I was not loving. I was not loving towards others, or myself. The rest of these verses go on to define His love, and I have noticed that many of these descriptions were missing from my youth. Within my parents. Within my environment. It is comforting to know that through the Lord, my patience is being refined by His grace. It is great to have a relationship with a teacher who not only has saved me from judgment, but has also saved me from myself. Each day, He patiently shows me how to become a more patient man.
More of my journey can be found at: my-journey-online.com