The first lesson to be learned and
practiced is loving patience. It requires
some time to bring any two lives into
perfect unison so that they shall
blend in every chord and tone.
—J. R. Miller
In the 1970s, Heinz came out with series of commercials illustrating how slow their ketchup flowed from the bottle. Point being that their ketchup was thicker and richer than the other brands on the shelf. To reinforce their brand, “Anticipation, you’re making me wait” was their theme song, along with a tagline that read, “Taste that’s worth the wait!”
While watching an episode of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, I learned from a young age how centrifugal force was my ally when it came to dressing my dog and fries. Kids nowadays don’t know how easy they have it with plastic squeeze bottles and condiment pumps, but while they have it easy, they’re missing out on the simple lessons learned through patience.
Adults aren’t any better. Fast food, fast cars, fast money, and fast access to pain relief have left us weak void of muscle tone when it comes to flexing the muscle of patience. We should exercise and practice patience daily in order to increase in strength.
What is it? We’ve all heard the familiar saying, “Patience is a virtue,” but when asked to define it, I had to stop and think for a minute. Patience is defined as “Bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.” That includes nagging, of course
Can you see how this would be an asset to any marriage? In a perfect marriage, we’d see two people living in harmony without complaint. There’d be no provocation, there’d be no sign of irritation or annoyance, and tempers would be under control. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a messy world where the abundance of an angry heart spouts forth more times than we’d like. We say and do things that pierce the heart of the one we love, and our heart is pierced in return.
We’d all love it if our husbands had patience like that—if they put up with our annoyances without complaint or irritation so we could experience instant marital bliss. That would be easy, yes, but instead of seeking a shortcut in hopes that our husbands will change, I’d like to encourage you to focus inward and exercise that patience yourself. Take your eyes off your husband’s failures and turn them toward God as you allow Him to reshape and work through you. You might not understand the momentum once you step onto the potter’s wheel, but centrifugal force is our ally when we’re clay in His hands. Trust in the potter at all times.
You might think that you have all of the answers and need to protect your husband from making the wrong choice, but nagging, pouting, losing your temper, and complaining aren’t going make him a better man.
I often hear women say things like, “I can’t get my husband to respect me . . . I can’t get my husband to love me . . . I can’t get my husband to pay attention to me, the kids, or the house!”
Here’s the thing—while neither you nor I hold the power to change him, God does.
Have you ever tried to control the flow of water in a busy stream? It quickly makes its way around to the other side of your hand. And if you’ve ever tried to grasp water, you know that it only slips through your fingers like air. We aren’t capable of controlling a river stream any more than we are of controlling a heart.
Look at this verse:
The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD,
as the rivers of water: he turneth
it whithersoever he will. (Proverbs 21:1)
While you might not have a king in your life, what we can take away from this verse is that God holds the power to change the mightiest and strongest of hearts—we don’t.
Trying to force another person to change is like begging a seed to grow. It sprouts when it’s ready to sprout and produces fruit when it’s of full maturity. All we can do is provide water, sunlight, and patience. God takes care of the rest.