I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting!! Christmas is an especially trying time for me as I wait restlessly to distribute gifts. In fact, sometimes I’ve given everyone their gifts weeks before Christmas, and then, I’ve been forced to go buy more gifts. I definitely lack one essential character quality.
That character quality is patience and today we’ll look at ways to develop the character muscle of patience, especially during the holidays. What better time to learn to wait patiently?
I’m not defending my lack of patience, but our culture has really contributed to my inability to wait. We're surrounded by fast food, quick fixes, and instant gratification. Whether it’s television programs that introduce, develop, and solve every problem in 30 minutes, or prepackaged meals and gifts, we’re inundated with the idea that everything we want should happen now, now,now!
With that reality as our cultural norm, how do we transform our character from impatient to patient?
Like any other muscle, we must develop our character muscles. Studies indicate that for an athlete to develop predictable muscle memory, they must repeat the same movement 6,000 to 8,000 times. Practically speaking, that means that Dustin Pedroia must swing his bat predictably for six to eight thousand times to cause his muscles to consistently produce a winning movement.
It’s no different with our character memory. For us to produce predictable results, we must practice the same character quality over and over again. That’s really the answer to the question, “When will those children ever learn to be patient?” Well, they’ll learn to be patient after they have practiced being patient, rather than impatient, for six to eight thousand times.
Although that number may seem overwhelming, honestly, we have hundreds of opportunities to practice patience Every.Single.Day. Instead of simply instructing your children to act patiently in the heat of the moment, take some time to pre-activity them before they are tempted to react impatiently. Reminding our children, “The doctor’s office may be crowded; you’ll have to wait patiently,” will give them a few moments to prepare themselves to respond patiently.
Remember, each time you instruct your children to practice patience, you are building your own patience… One instruction at a time! Your patient interactions with them will give your children a clear picture of Christ’s patience toward us.
Aren’t you thankful that Christ is patient with our shortcomings? And shouldn’t that thankfulness overflow into patience with our own children and others?
So… how am I ever going to wait until Christmas? I’m almost positive I’ll have six to eight thousand opportunities to practice the important character quality of patience between then and now!