Patience with people
HAVE you been exasperated with your spouse lately? Or your boss, or your children, or anyone else you thought wasn't acting right? We can all be more patient with others. And through prayer we learn, step by step, that the patience which heals--the kind the Bible recommends we let ``have her perfect work''1--doesn't involve just outwardly keeping still while we churn mentally. Genuine patience is expressed in loving our fellow beings as Jesus loved, growing in grace through meekness and compassion, quietly touching hearts.
But how can we do this? you may be asking. Isn't it hypocritical to go along as though everything were just fine when clearly (in our opinion) the other person isn't measuring up, isn't even trying to see our point of view?
Maybe the more important question is, Are we trying to see his? Even if we can honestly say we are, something more is needed. We need to pray humbly to see others more as God knows man; to discern their real being. The Bible teaches that God made man in His image and that everything He made was very good.2 So if the reality of every individual is good, it's to everyone's benefit that we strive to perceive more of that good, regardless of how hidden it may seem. People may be difficult sometimes, but if we realize the actual nature of everyone, we won't sit in judgment of others, claiming that we are good but they aren't. This is just what we're doing, however, when we let impatience and self-righteousness cloud our view.
I recently had an experience that pointed up how crucial patience (genuine patience, not just foot-tapping silence) can be to the harmonious solution of our troubles--and in fact how hopelessly entrenched these troubles can become until meekness and patience are learned.
When our taxes were nearly doubled last year my husband and I decided to remodel our large aboveground cellar into a rental unit to help defray expenses. In general we both agreed that this was a necessary and desirable step.
The cellar, however, was crammed with forty years' accumulation of ``things.'' My husband, who was a widower when I married him, had lived in this house most of his adult life and had seldom thrown anything away.
``Call the clean-out people and let it all go,'' I said glibly. ``Oh no,'' protested my husband. ``I need time.'' (You've had forty years!)
I felt sure that a harmonious solution to a troubling situation, no matter how hopeless it looks, can be revealed through prayer. And so it was.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, ``What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.''3
So I prayed. Fervently. Daily and hourly. And I found plenty of discord to weed out of my thought. I was not only un-meek concerning what I saw as ``all this mess''--I was contemptuous. How could an intelligent man even let this happen, much less cling to it!
But as I humbly prayed I realized that what was simply a matter of course for me, because I'd moved dozens of times in my life, was for him a maze of wrenching decisions. He knew the job had to be done, but the doing was painful.
Continuing to pray for more humility and meekness, I opened my heart. And there I found a way, through compassion and understanding, to respect my husband's possessions. Soon, together, we were able to channel them into various acceptable directions until finally, to our mutual joy, the cellar was ready for the builders.
How tempting it was at first to dig in my heels and stay disgusted with the ``mess'' in the cellar. But I knew that wasn't the example Jesus gave the world. He had compassion for his fellowman. He loved. And I could love too--by waiting and listening and understanding until patience did indeed ``have her perfect work.'' And best of all, I grew in grace!
1James 1:4. 2See Genesis 1:27, 31. 3Science and Health, p. 4. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Ecclesiastes 7:8