Recently I’ve found myself getting really angry during my drive to work every day. Not a pleasant, “Oh, you silly driver, I’m kind of annoyed that you just cut me off.” I get blood-pumping, teeth-gritting, fist-clenching mad at my fellow drivers. Sometimes it’s for something as silly as them actually going the speed limit when I’m trying to get to work a little faster by going slightly above the speed limit!
Goodness, it baffles me when I think about why I get so frustrated.
Yesterday when I had one of those irrationally angry moments, I realized something. I realized that sustaining that anger is not helpful for anyone. Certainly not to the driver who is the source of my annoyance, for they could never actually be aware of my feelings, and certainly not to me. I want to sustain a life with the least amount of stress and negativity as possible. So when I was in the car, gripping my steering wheel with white knuckles, I reluctantly tried to step back from the situation (metaphorically, not while I was driving 😉 ), take a deep breath, forgive the person, and relax. Sure, I might be a few minutes late to work, but it’s not a big deal. In the scheme of things, being 5 minutes late will not kill me or anyone else. It’s literally not worth stressing about.
“Okay, Maggie,” you’re thinking. “I’m so glad that you’re trying to approach those situations more healthily. What does this have to do with me, though?”
What I’m getting to is that our American society is all about impatience, anger, stress, and urgency. We’ve been trained to hold these things tightly as though our lives depend on it. But the thing is that we don’t just suffer mentally and physically from harboring all this rage and discomfort. There are also a load of spiritual reasons why we need to recalibrate our lives to exclude those things as well.
In chapter 3 of Solitude & Contemplation, the author writes, “When we are patient […], we calmly bear pains or trials without complaint; we are not hasty or impetuous but steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.” Earlier, the author explains, “Patience is a virtue that increases in us as we practice it—something not easy in our manic society today. But think about how patient God is with us, waiting for us to listen to his voice and heed his call.”
So, patience is about stopping and listening to God despite the noise. Refocusing on patience will help us to breed characteristics that will get us through difficult circumstances and allow us to come out the other side stronger. Not only that, gaining the quality of patience will bring us closer to our Father, allowing us to really see and be thankful for all the times he was faithful to us and patient with us. Imagine if we were truly aware of the Lord’s blessings in our lives all the time. I think I would be much happier, much more optimistic, much more compassionate and kind, and the list goes on.
In a lot of ways, patience is the key to solitude. Without patience, it would be very difficult for me to sit quietly with God because I’d be busy wondering how long it’d take before God speaks. It requires patience, trust, and calmness given by the Holy Spirit to enter into solitude and truly listen to God’s whisper.
This week I’ll be praying for all of you that God would give you an extra dose of patience, and that during a loud, frustrating, or chaotic moment in your day that you’d be able to find solitude in God.
Please comment below with any experiences you’ve had that may relate! Also, check out my other blog posts on Solitude (My Bedrock: Finding Myself while Alone with God and Entering the Dark Cave), and comment on those as well, if you have a moment!