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PatienceGetting Dressed Takes Patience
By Lynda Schab

My patience, as well as my authority, was being tested. My two-year-old son stood three feet away from me, a grin plastered on his jelly-stained face. In his hand was a fragile porcelain angel, part of my growing collection. It didnít matter that it wasnít the most expensive angel I owned; the fact was, he wasnít supposed to touch it - and he knew it.

I stood there, debating what to do. As I imagined having to sweep up shards of porcelain, I knew I couldnít wait too long. But I had a feeling that if I went with my first instinct - which was to shout, "No!" at the top of my lungs, lunge toward my son, and grab the angel - it would probably end up in pieces.

Besides, if I did follow through with that impulse, I knew that I would soon be scolding myself for losing my patience again. I would wonder why I couldnít be more like those calm mothers who always seem to have everything under control, whose children are always well-behaved, and who never even think about shouting. Fortunately, this time I controlled myself, so I was able to rescue the angel and place it on a higher shelf. Iíll admit I wasnít entirely calm about the situation, but I didnít get carried away.

Patience is invariably put to the test by children. Babies cry. Toddlers dawdle and endlessly challenge the rules. (When that happens, some mothers count to 10, but I think that would just give my son more time to find something else to get into.) Preschoolers expand their vocabulary to include words that parents find shocking. Preteens and teenagers have their own ways of testing a parentís patience. They may not actually say, "You donít know anything; youíre just my mother!" but they let you know thatís what theyíre thinking. And when it comes to chores, they might as well wear a button with the following slogan: "You actually want me to do work around here?"

Some parents whisper this prayer several times a day: "God, grant me patience - right now!"

When my son is having a "terrible two" moment, patience is the fruit of the Spirit I most struggle with (self-control comes in a close second). Something tells me that the instinct to scream, "No!" isnít the recommended approach, so I turn to my "parenting manual" for help and search the topical index under patience.

The first passage I turn to jumps off the page and into my heart: "Therefore, as Godís chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12).

How wonderful to be reminded that although I have many shortcomings, even when I blow it and lose my temper, I am still one of Godís chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Because God loves me and instructs me to have patience, he will give me the ability - even if I donít always have the determination - to be patient, as well as compassionate, kind, humble, and gentle.

I am to clothe myself with these qualities. Just as I have to put on my jeans, sweater, socks, and shoes, I must dress myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. When I donít make a conscious decision to clothe myself with these virtues, Iím not doing what God has commanded.

God faithfully provides me with the freshly washed change of clothing I need. God expects me to ask him for it and to take the responsibility for putting it on. Itís amazing how smoothly the day goes when I have committed myself to be patient. I can enjoy time with my son without getting irritated by things that really wonít matter two days, or even two hours, from now.

Of course, permanently seizing this virtue, making it part of my character, is not the easiest thing to do. But the next time my patience wears thin and I feel myself getting ready to lose it, maybe Iíll pause, take a deep breath (I still wonít count to 10), and listen for that warning bell in my head that reminds me to put on my clothes.

"Lynda Schab is a freelance writer who resides in Michigan with her husband and two children, all who try her patience from time to time. She can be contacted at Lschab4jc@yahoo.com."
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