WHAT a calming effect patience has. We often admire others who have it, and we want to express patience more consistently ourselves. But how can we do this, when so much seems to be going on that makes us impatient? By learning to let God govern us!
The Bible tells us that we are God's reflection. This means that we express what God is. God is mercifully patient, kind, and loving. Then, because we reflect Him, we reflect these same qualities. We can't even imagine an impatient God. So when the temptation to be impatient appears, we can be sure that it doesn't come from God, good.
I felt I had made some progress in becoming more patient than I had been when my children were young. And when I wrote an article about an experience I'd had with my daughter, now grown, I wanted her to confirm that I was more patient now than I had been during her growing-up years. In her note she said this: ``You are more patient than you were years ago, although your toe still taps.'' I laughed when I read that, but I wondered what she meant by it.
It wasn't long, before I found out! I was one of five other customers waiting while the lone clerk attended to someone who couldn't decide which wallpaper she wanted. The clerk phoned for another clerk, who never came. The rest of us waited. And waited. Suddenly, as I stood there, I realized that my toe was indeed literally tapping! That was what my daughter meant. I had probably been tapping my toe for years without noticing it. I would have to watch my thought. My toe didn't tap involuntarily--it was my thought that needed controlling instead.
Standing there, I asked myself, Is my impatience connected to anxiety? Isn't that really a lack of trust in God, who gives us all we need? Isn't it a selfish ``me first'' attitude that keeps me look-ing at my watch, glancing out the window, pacing up and down irritably?--or tapping my toe?
Christ Jesus was a model of patience. Paul's letter to the Romans, in the Bible, states: ``Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ'' (15:5, 6). Being ``likeminded,'' I felt, would include treating others as we would like to be treated, with gentleness and restraint. It also would involve expressing Christly consideration toward others. Time after time, Jesus patiently explained to his disciples various points of his teaching that they did not fully understand. And each time we control impatience instead of letting it rule us, we are glorifying God and following Jesus' example with our expression of patience.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes in her book Miscellaneous Writings: ``The loving patience of Jesus, we must strive to emulate'' (p. 7). I began by loving myself enough to see myself as God's reflection, showing good humor. Surely I could express self-control. I stopped tapping my foot right at that moment. As patience replaced my irritation, a clerk appeared and waited on me! How grateful I was for this lesson. And how it has made others laugh with me about my tapping toe!
If we find ourselves being impatient, we need to look to God as our source of goodness and find patience there. My ability to be patient is growing, I'm happy to say. And practicing being patient is great exercise. You'll find that it keeps you so occupied you won't even have to tap your toe.