Category Archives: Patience

Snowballs and Forgiveness

Picture full of evenly spaced snowballs, with the words "Snowballs & Forgiveness" superimposed.Snowballs and Forgiveness

by Lydia Floren

I mess up.  In big and little ways.  I can judge people. Disrespect their boundaries. Poke my head in where it doesn’t belong. I can be inconsiderate and rude.  Selfish. Unforgiving. I can neglect my health, Indulge myself in a pity party. Waste time…You get the idea. I mess up. A lot.

And, when I realize I’ve screwed up, I make it all worse by beating myself up.

“Why did you do that? you know better than that? What’s wrong with you?”   And then, I pile on the guilt of past misdeeds, like I’m wagging a finger at myself.  “That’s just like the last time…will you ever learn?…” And I have just started on my general sorry-ness.  My favorite phrase at this stage of the self-guilt-trip is, “I am not enough.”  I am not good enough, kind enough, considerate enough, productive enough, forgiving enough, _______ enough,.    My accusations snowball into a huge mound of negative thinking that rolls over my hope. Pretty soon, I have convinced myself that, “I am a bad person. I will never change.”

This dirty snowball that has barreled down the hill of my past failures, finally rolls to a stop at God’s feet.  I look up into His gentle, kind eyes.

“I’ve done it again, haven’t I Father?”, I say. (He nods) “I’ve messed up, and then made it all worse by beating myself up, instead of remembering that I am forgiven and loved. Thank you, that You came to set me free of this condemnation.  Remind me again, please, of who I am, and who You are.”

“You are, My precious child,” He responds, “so precious and valuable to Me that I was willing to give My life for you to be with me in eternity.  Never forget that.  I am more powerful than every evil in this world, and I love you.  I have already paid for every single one of your transgressions—past, present and future.  Instead of trying to fix yourself, just leave this all at my feet, every day, and follow me.

“Start again, today, right now.  Enjoy this day I have given you, and be at peace.  Know that as you walk with me, I am healing you day by day. I am exposing Satan’s lies and accusations and bringing you into increased truth in your life. So you can live as you were born to live:  connected to me, accepted by me, made perfect by me, and used by me to love those who cross your path.”

Under the heat of God’s truth-light, my snowball of condemnation melts away,

until all that remains is a little patch of dirt.  He reaches out with His foot and scuffs it away, and then His gaze meets mine.

“Where are your accusers?”, He asks.

“Gone,” I say.

He nods, and then responds. “Sin no longer has power over you.  I have broken that power. I have set you free from its hold.   Walk in that freedom.  Go and sin no more, remembering that I am right beside you every minute, protecting and guiding you in your journey.”

We share a smile. Then He throws His arm over my shoulder, and together we step back onto our path, talking and laughing as we stroll along.

Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. John 8:32

A small pool of dirty water in a parking lot, with melting snow adjacent.  Caption says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

Distraction Detours

Two directional signs in the woods.by Lydia Floren

We all get distracted from time to time, especially those of us with ADD. Here is an example of what I call a “distraction detour” from my life recently:

I am finishing a task in the kitchen before I head out to run errands, and realize I need something from upstairs, so I run up to get it.  I walk into the spare bedroom, and immediately notice that it is a mess. I pick up a book and put it on its shelf. And then I rearrange the shelf a little. And before I know it I have completely organized the room.

And then I look at the clock.

 Two hours. I’ve been up here two hours. How in the world did I get started on this?  Oh yeah, I came up here looking for something…what exactly was I looking for?

I shrug my shoulders, and hurry back down to the kitchen.  As I enter, my eyes fall on a T.J. Max bag sitting on the counter. Oh yeah, the baby shower gift. That’s why I went upstairs: I needed a gift bag.   I turn around and climb back up the stairs muttering “gift bag, gift bag, gift bag” with every step, so I won’t forget why I came upstairs this time, and end up getting side-tracked all over again.

Sigh. Distractions happen. And occasionally–more for some of us than others– they sidetrack us. An unplanned two hour detour in a busy day, shoots a hole in our careful plans, and keeps us from accomplishing as much as we had hoped.  But we don’t have to let these DD’s ruin our day.   When my day is disrupted by a Distraction Detour, I get frustrated with myself for letting it happen. All too often, I will continue ranting at myself for the rest of the day every time I think about it.

What is wrong with you? Can’t you even go upstairs and find a stupid gift bag in under two hours?  Look at the time! Even if I hurry the rest of the day, I’ll never get everything done now!

Distraction detours impact our plans, but they don’t have to steal our joy.

So what’s a person to do when you recognize you have a DD?  And how do you keep a Detour from turning into a Disaster? Here’s a few things I have learned in my long experience with DD’s:

PUSH THE RESET BUTTON.

As soon as you realize what is happening, stop.  Take a deep breath. Give thanks. As my friend Denise often reminds me, “There is always always always something to be thankful for.”  Next, walk through the rest of the GRACE pneumonic we’ve talked about before (see Living GRACE)—Give thanks, Release, Accept, Continue, Enjoy.

Give thanks. Thank You, God, for my mind, no matter how scattered it gets. For Your love and patience, for the way You made me. Thank You that You multiply my time, and will help me to do what is most important without worrying. And thank you for what I got done these last 2 hours, even if it wasn’t on today’s to do list.

Release. I give all my time to you, and all my plans. I release myself from the expectation of perfection.   Please show me how to give myself grace, and lighten up a little (or a lot). And help me to quit “shoulding on myself.

Accept. Here’s where I am now, Father. It’s __o’clock. I have ___ hrs left in the day.  As I regroup, show me what is most important. Help me to eliminate and concentrate.  

[You might make a short to-do list, 3-5 things, depending on how much time is left.]

Continue.  Start out fresh, right where you are, as if it was the beginning of the day,

Enjoy  the rest of the day, free of worry and minus the self-guilt trip. God understands, and he loves us just like we are. So lighten up.  Laugh a little, and then a lot.

Distraction detours happen to all of us. Don’t let them highjack your joy. Be kind to yourself. Step back, regroup, handle them with GRACE.  Laugh a little (and then a lot) and move on!

Don’t remember the former things; don’t dwell on things past. Isaiah 43:18

Rejoice in the Lord always. Phil 4:4

Waiting for Directions

Weathervane showing North, South, East, West, with a horse on top of an arrow

This week’s post  is from a guest writer, Rebekah Lowe:

Waiting is hell. Okay, it isn’t, but it is really, really hard.

I have just come through a time of waiting, and it was no day at the beach. Unless it is a day with sunburn, sand in your shorts, and lots of jellyfish.  Waiting is hard. Even when I know all the things. Like, that I don’t want to rush ahead of God’s best choice for me. And that I can trust that there is a good reason that I am waiting.  And that He always thinks up better solutions for me than I do for myself.  And that He will take care of me in the meantime, while I wait.  Still…

We were going to sell our house and move.  Not just for fun.  But because we needed to reduce our expenses.  It took us awhile to face facts, to understand that a move was necessary.  But we came to realize it, researched best options to sell, and put the house on the market.  In terms of real estate markets, we live in a hot neighborhood, in a hot city, and it was Spring.  The triple threat, right?  We thought we would sell the house in a couple of days, for near asking price.  Everyone said so.  We had watched God sell houses with remarkable speed for us several times before.  I was fond of saying, “God does real estate!”, and He certainly does, just as he does anything He chooses to do for us.

The first weekend came and went, with many lookers, but no offers.  We  visited another possible home for us, and began to calculate what we might offer for that place.

hourglass with red sand

The first month came and went, with many lookers, but no offers.  We dropped the price a little, and I made my first of many spreadsheets, so I could analyze what we might net, at any given price.

I’m sorry to say, the first year came and went.  Year!!!  By then, I was just about at my wit’s end.  Price drops, a different real estate company, nothing seemed to help.  I still knew, just knew, that I dare not try to wrest control back from God.  Not that He wouldn’t let me, He would have.  God is a gentleman, as Lydia Floren says.

Rather, I knew whatever options I could manufacture would never live up to whatever He was waiting for.  AND, it seemed pretty evident that factors that made sense in this world, like market strength, price points, and selling strategies were not the barriers.

So, I waited.  Not without complaint.  Not all that patiently.  With the encouragement of my friends, I waited.  With pleas for Him to do whatever needed doing, I waited.  With Him meeting our needs all along the way, I waited.

And last week, He sold the house.  I still don’t know why we were waiting, God and me, but I know that good things came from it.

  • During the last year, I went from reluctantly selling the house to being thrilled that the house sold:  God gave me plenty of time to get used to the idea.  Maybe He knew I wasn’t ready.
  • I remembered what it is to wait without knowing what we are waiting for.  May I never blithely comfort a friend who is waiting again!
  • I learned yet again that God will continue to meet my needs, one step at a time.  Apparently, I have to relearn this regularly.  Maybe this will help me with a much harder problem down the road.
  • We found a wonderful new home that wasn’t available when our house went on the market.  Maybe someone in that neighborhood needs me, or maybe I need them.  Or, maybe God just thought it was a cute place for us.

So, if you are waiting, you have my full understanding, and buckets of empathy.  If you belong to God, what I cannot give you is sympathy.  Because, despite how it feels, good things are in the works for you, and you are being cared for all along the way.  This interminable waiting will end, and end well.

And remember the quote from the movie, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?”  The hotel manager is reassuring a guest and says, encouragingly, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end.”  So true for God’s people:  if it is not yet all right, it is not yet the end.  Just you wait.

Rebekah Lowe

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. when you walk through fire you shall not be burned.  and the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43:2

Praying for Patience

The words Praying for patience on a background of a purple petunia

“Whatever you do, don’t pray for patience!”

Have you ever heard someone say that? I know I have. It seems to be a common half-joking-but-more-serious warning, that Christians sometimes give each other. But why not pray for patience?  Isn’t patience one of the fruits of the Spirit? Isn’t it a great asset in our relationships and our faith? Why shouldn’t we pray for patience?  Here’s the reasoning:

“Don’t pray for patience,” people say, “because if you do, God’s going to send you a heap of trouble.”

But is that really true? Does God punish you for asking Him for patience? Does praying for patience give God a cart blanche to “Job-ify” your life by bringing you hardship?

No. Of course not.

Troubles are a part of life 

In fact, Jesus made it very clear that difficulties are a part of life, including (and sometimes especially) for believers.  “In the world you shall have tribulation” he said in John 16:33  If we think living a life of following God is trouble-free, we haven’t been reading our Bibles. Trials are a reality in each of our lives and they’re going to keep coming. Count on it.

An Opportunity

As far as I can tell, “praying for patience brings trouble” logic is based in a misunderstanding of Romans 5:3-4

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.”  Romans 5:3-4 (AKJV)

Notice that Paul doesn’t say, “Pray for patience and God will bring tribulations (troubles).” He says glory – or be thankful – in your trouble, seeing it as an opportunity for good – patience – to come from the hardships.

Our Choice

Hard times are acomin’, and they will keep on coming. We have no choice about that.  But we do get to decide how we respond to adversity, and our choice will either make us bitter or better.

When we decide to give thanks (glory) in the middle of every situation, we are reminded that our difficult circumstance is not for nothing. At the very least it will strengthen our ability to be patient, and endure it with grace.

by Lydia Floren

The S Word

"The S Word" written on a lemon tree.by Lydia Floren

One of our favorite family phrases comes from the movie Aladdin.  The little parrot, Iago, gets all upset and starts venting to his boss, the evil Jafar.  Jafar’s response is simply this: “Paaaaatience, Iago. Paaaatience.”

What gets us so riled up, that we lose our patience with ourselves or others? For me, it is the S word.  No, not the four-letter S word….the six-letter one:  “should.”  When “should” creeps into my thoughts and makes its way into my conversations, patience goes out the window. Joy is replaced by restless discontent.  I start focusing on what is wrong instead of what is right.

“They should be doing this. I should be doing that.”

“They should fill all of these potholes.”  “I should get more respect.” “The computer system should always work perfectly.” “I should be able to manage my time better, or be a better person.”

Should is a toxic word. It poisons our peace and eats away at our patience. Shoulds stress us out and put stress on those around us.

Cure for the S word

The cool thing is, there is a cure for the S word–the “should” infection. It’s the T word: thanksgiving. The practice of giving thanks in all things stamps the shoulds right out of our life. Gratitude banishes discontent, restores our joy, and replenishes our patience.

“Thank you Father, that we have paved streets, and that these potholes will eventually be filled.”  “Thank you that You respect and value me, and are teaching me to respect and value myself.” “Thank you that the computer system works 99% of the time, and there is a great team of people working on keeping it that way.”

It doesn’t come easy.

Replacing the “S” word with the “T” word takes some practice. It doesn’t come easy.  In fact it can feel quite awkward and contrived, especially at first.  But, it is incredibly powerful at restoring our perspective and our joy.

“Thank You that every single one of us is imperfect and in process, and You love us right where we are.” “Thank You that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made.” “Thank You that I don’t need to do anything to earn your love, and there is nothing I can do that will change it.” “Thank you that You are always present and at work, and working things to good.”

“Thank you that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for.”

When we cultivate a grateful heart we quit “shoulding” all over ourselves and those around us. Our words and actions are motivated by love instead of driven by discontent.

How has the “S” word invaded your life?  What happens when you replace it with the “T” word?

"patience" on purple petunias

 

Shoes At My Door

Shoes At My Door

by Lydia Floren

When we first moved to Wisconsin, I was surprised to find that, when people came to visit, they always left their shoes at my door. I soon learned that Wisconsinites shed their shoes, just like they do their coats, when they enter someone’s home. Children learn to do this almost before they begin to walk. In fact, around here, taking your shoes off when you cross a threshold ranks right up there with the “yes ma’am’s” and “no ma’am’s” of the South: good when you do it, really rude when you don’t.

At first this shoe-at-the-door thing didn’t make much sense. But that was because we moved up here in July. By December, the reason became obvious: snow. Well, not just snow –  the sand and slush and salt and mud that accompany the winter months. Taking shoes off keeps everyone’s houses from being dirtied by the outside mess. This is such an ingrained habit in our Northwoods culture that, even when the weather is nice and the streets are clear, everyone still sheds their footwear when they come inside.

We each have some mud on our lives, especially this time of year.

Extra commitments, financial concerns, worry about family, renewed grief, loneliness. Some of the stuff is obvious while other parts – like the stirrings of old hurts –  stay hidden beneath the surface.

As we step into each other’s lives, wouldn’t it be cool if we would remember to first take off our “muddy shoes”? That might mean setting aside happenings from earlier in the day: a difficult circumstance, or unpleasant encounter, or hurry or stress. Maybe it means withholding judgment, extending grace, forgiving, getting out of our own perspective and choosing to enter theirs.

This holiday season we are going to have many distractions.

And we are going to step into a lot of lives.

May we remember to set aside our stress and tread gently, giving others (and ourselves) extra grace.

BTW, wouldn’t it be wonderful if this “extra grace-giving” became a habit we practiced all year long?

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Love is patient, love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4

Patience

Perfectionists are  a restless lot. As a perfectionist-in-recovery, I am no expert on patience.  Impatience?   Now that is something I know well.

Much of my life I have lived in the world of impatience.  I am impatient for a project to be done, for people to hurry up and catch up, for the house to be perfect, my kids to be perfect, my husband to be perfect., and– most of all– for ME to be perfect.

Every perfectionist is really hard on themselves, and I am no exception.  I try-I really do-to correct all my imperfections, to achieve the elusive status of “perfect,” for once in my life.  (I wonder what that might feel like?)  Occasionally I get close, and have the momentary sense of satisfaction before the all-too-familiar restlessness returns.

I am learning that perfection is such a hopeless goal, and it is so unnecessary:.  The truth is, I am already perfect.  God through Christ has made me that way.  My  job is to claim perfection for myself, not to create “perfection” in myself.

Patience grows in the soil of contentment, watered by thanksgiving. From belovedlove.org

Patience takes root when I quit focusing on self-improvement.  In fact, it really flourishes when I quit focusing on myself altogether, and

  • I give thanks for God – His character, wisdom, kindness, honesty, integrity, and
  • I give thanks to God, for His enormous love for me and every other person on the planet.

Patience thrives when I am thankful to God for His infinite patience with me, and for teaching me – slowly and surely – to be patient with myself.

Patience grows in the soil of contentment, watered by thanksgiving.  And as I turn my face toward the warmth  of God’s Love, that patience blossoms with Joy.

Do I Do That?

Do I Do That 10:22:15by Lydia Floren

Don’t people just annoy you sometimes?  For example, maybe

  • You’re in a hurry, and someone’s blocking traffic.  Really?  There is a slow lane for a reason, buddy.
  • All your friends are talking about a great party last week, and you weren’t invited.  What’s that about?
  • Someone talks too loud at the next table of the restaurant, or crowds you in the airplane seat, or gets ahead of you in line.  Tone it down already. Keep to yourself. Wait your turn.

Annoyances can quickly change a decent day into a crappy day.

A remedy:
My sister, Rebekah, taught me a great tip to counter this tendency to let people get to me. When she starts to get annoyed with someone, she’s learned to stop and ask herself this simple question:

Do I do that?

I’ve been trying it.  When I sense my irritation rising, and I remember to ask myself, “Do I do that?”, my mind shifts gears.  That simple question prompts me to look at things from a different perspective, and to think about someone else – not just myself.  And, of course, It doesn’t take long for my answer to slam me in the gut:

Do I do that?  Yes, yes I do:

Yes, there are times when I block traffic.
Yes, I do hurt people’s feelings (albeit unknowingly).
Yes, I can be rude.  Or just plain selfish.

But wait wait wait.  This is ME.  I don’t mean to be vexing.  YOU understand, don’t you?  Don’t you?

Aaaah.  I get it. If I am not trying to annoy YOU, maybe – just maybe – YOU aren’t trying to annoy ME either.  And you know, maybe – just maybe – I am on edge for an entirely different reason.

Asking “Do I do that?” prompts me to give grace to others, and grace to myself.

Try it.  The next time you find yourself getting annoyed with someone ask

Do I do that?

Let us know how it goes!  We’d love to hear from you!

Worth the Wait

O’Hare Airport: The Ultimate Test of

Patience, Part 4

(Click to read Part 1: The Scramble, Part 2: Cot City, or Part 3: Giving Thanks!)

Pelicans in tidal pools at Hilton Head

We made it to Hilton Head, and spent four glorious days in a room overlooking the ocean.  When we returned, people asked “how was your trip?” My mind immediately went to

  • sunrises over the water,Sunrise over water at Hilton Head
  • walks on the beach collecting shells,
  • discovering an old Civil War graveyard,discovering a Civil War graveyard at Hilton Head
  • biking down flower-lined streets to a secluded park overlooking the bay,
  • wandering out to an isolated part of the beach at low tide with friends, finding sand dollars and conch shells inhabited by crabs,Gathering shells on the beach with friends at Hilton Head
  • eating great seafood at some wonderful restaurants, including low country boil, and some truly wonderful key lime pie, and
  • strolling through Savannah with my sweetheart.strolling through Savannah with my sweetheart

The “O’Hare experience” was a forgotten nightmare only briefly recalled (just a little PTSD) as we passed through Chicago unimpeded on our way back home. Funny thing, a couple of our new/old friends from the original flight were on the plane with us back to Chicago. They were all smiles. They had a great time on their golf trip–36 holes the first day there.

It is amazing how blessings eclipse tough experiences when we let them. We remember what we choose to remember. We remember what we remind ourselves to remember. And what we share with others is either a gift or a downer.

All good things come to those who wait, especially in difficult situations. Being patient is possible when I know that God works all things to good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose. This truth gives me real hope: I can anticipate with joy the good God is doing and will do.

When did you choose to remember the good during a difficult situation?

Hope is anticipating wtih joy the good God is doingBy Lydia Floren

 

Giving Thanks

O’Hare Airport: The Ultimate Test of Patience, Part 3

(Click to read Part 1: The Scramble, or Part 2: Cot City!)

Beach at Hilton Head

One pair of our travel buddies from Eau Claire, who were going to the same conference we were, were not fortunate enough to actually make it to Hilton Head.  They turned back home after their 3rd connecting flight from Houston fell through (don’t ask).  Nevertheless, Bobbi wrote about her blessings on her Facebook wall, which got me to thinking about my many blessings. So the morning after we arrived I made my own list of things to be thankful for. (Thank you Bobbi, for reminding me to be thankful.)

  • Got to get to know—and bond—with Jeanne, a fellow traveler. What a wonderful person.
  • Some awesome, patient, hardworking airline folks, especially Jill and Lon with United Airlines.
  • Kate from the Westin, who kept our room ready for us, despite >24 hour delays.
  • Two crosswords finished with my husband.
  • Our luggage came on our airplane!!!Birds at Hilton Head
  • My knees and other joints didn’t bother me [always a concern as I gather a few more years], despite tromping from one end of the airport to the other and back again a few times.
  • Exercise.
  • The inner peace and calm I enjoyed almost the entire travel time.
  • My husband’s company, and great care for us.
  • The great sense of humor of fellow travelers, which helped make the long delays more tolerable.Magnolia Bloom at Hilton Head
  • Much to laugh about.
  • The commitment to safety of the FAA, airlines, and airport staff, despite much pressure from us road-weary travelers.
  • My own toothbrush, toothpaste and a change of clothes with me.
  • Carryon bags with wheels!
  • A book on my kindle.Blooms at the beach at Hilton Head
  • Chargers for computer and phone, and a place to plug them in.
  • A great night’s sleep in cot city–thanks to earplugs, a sleeping pill, and my husband-protector, even though we were awoken by a guard at 4am and told to “move along.” (Is this what a homeless person feels like?)
  • I am not a homeless person.
  • An oceanfront room at a gorgeous hotel.
  • Low country shrimp and grits for supper first night, courtesy of Becky and her company.Sunrise at Hilton Head
  • Great conversation at dinner, and of course an audience to share our travel saga with.
  • A shower, a comfortable bed, and privacy.
  • The drum of ocean waves as we slept.
  • Room service breakfast.
  • A quiet day to rest.

1 thess 5 18

When did you give thanks in a difficult situation? Leave your replies below!

Click here to read O’Hare Airport: The Ultimate Test of Patience Part Four – Worth the Wait!

By Lydia Floren