Parenting demands patience. It doesn’t matter if you have one, two, three, four or ten kids. If you’re going to do parenting right, you have to have a whole lot of patience.
But sometimes our patience is running in short supply. Sometimes the last thing we want to do is show our kids a little patience. Sometimes the only thing we want to do is shout at the top of our lungs, “JUST DO WHAT I’M ASKING YOU TO DO AND DO IT NOW!”
And I get that.
But what if there was another way to think about patience? What if there was another way that we could approach our parenting that could help us have patience even when we don’t want to?
My Three Year Old’s First Nightmare
Our girls are really good at going to bed when they’re supposed to and staying in bed until we get them up. It’s a rare occasion that we have to intervene for any reason during bed time.
But then there’s the other times.
About a month ago my three year old daughter had her first nightmare. It was about three in the morning and she started screaming at the top of her lungs.
So so there I am, laying in bed, waiting for it to pass. But it never did.
So I did what a good dad does. I went into her room and comforted her until she could go back to sleep.
Everything was fine. Until the next night.
The next night I went to tuck her in, and she asked me this question. She said, “Daddy, is it going to be very dark in here?”
I told her, “Yes.”
And then she lost it. She was inconsolable. She was determined that she would not be in that bed with the lights off.
But let me fill you in on a little bit of the back story.
That day was not a good day for me. I had a long day at work. My wife was sick. We had problems with our health insurance and I spent all morning trying to work things out. Then I went to the pharmacy to pick up her perscription and they didn’t have our medical insurance. I tried to get them on the phone, but there offices were closed so I had to pay out of pocket. Then I went home and realized I forgot one of the prescriptions. So I had to go back and do the whole thing again.
You know. It was one of those kinds of days.
So I literally had not had one moment of rest, one moment of peace and quiet all day long. And all I wanted to do was sit down in front of the TV and take it easy.
And this was my moment.
Except it wasn’t because my baby girl was terrified to go to sleep.
I remember in that moment all I wanted to say was, “Dreams aren’t real. There’s nothing to be scared of. So go to sleep!”
Except I couldn’t. In that moment the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t be a jerk, Jared.”
And I remember thinking to myself, “This isn’t an inconvenience. It’s an opportunity.”
Inconvenience or Opportunity?
Part of the reason we find it so hard to be patient sometimes is because we tend to think of patience as an inconvenience rather than an opportunity.
We think of patience as bearing with, persevering through, or enduring an unwanted situation.
And sometime it is.
But what if it could be more than that?
See my initial reaction to that situation was one of inconvenience. “I’ve had a long day. All I want to do is kick back and watch some TV, but you won’t let me!”
Patience doesn’t go very far when you’re thinking in terms of convenience and inconvenience.
And I’m so thankful that God showed me a better way.
Finding Purpose in Your Patience
As I was feeling the frustration of being inconvenienced by my kid, it was almost as if God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, Jared. There’s an opportunity here!”
And I realized that I could use this inconvenient situation as an opportunity to teach my baby girl something true about God.
So I did.
I said, “Olivia, you’re afraid. But you don’t have to be afraid. God’s word says, ‘Fear not for I am with you.’ You don’t have to be afraid tonight because God is with you. Everything’s going to be OK.”
And she said, “God’s here now?”
And I said, “Yes He is.”
Then she said, “But I do not see Him.”
(I didn’t realize this was going to turn into a three year old theology lesson.)
But I replied, “That’s because God is Spirit. He doesn’t look like you and me. But He’s here. He’s with you all the time no matter where you are. You don’t have to be afraid because God is always with you.”
And some how in her three year old mind something clicked. And she said, “OK daddy. I’ll go to sleep.”
A Better Way
Sometimes we have to do more than bear it. We have to do more than persevere. We have to do more than just make it through the inconvenience.
Sometimes we have to look for purpose in our patience and find the opportunity that’s standing right in front of us.
I could have grit my teeth. I could have bore the inconvenience. But I would have missed out on the opportunity to plant a little nugget of truth in the heart of my baby girl.
I’m so glad I found the opportunity in that moment of inconvenience.
Question: What kind of opportunities have you found in your moments of inconvenience? Join the conversation clicking here.