Patience

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Week 4: Patience

Published September 28, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” Colossians 1:11

This week threw me into a bit of a limbo over how I could better work on my Patience. My biggest problem lay in how I could practice it differently than I did Peace. That was when I realized how closely tied the two are and it reminded me, yet again, that each Fruit relies on the others. There were quite a few things that tested my Patience this week, and these same things also tried to erode my Peace. It was a little more difficult to attempt both of these qualities simultaneously, although challenging myself IS what I’m supposed to be doing throughout this challenge—why does it still surprise me sometimes when the water gets rough?

“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14

I had to remind myself of this fact more than once the past few days and continually caught myself as I started to lose my cool. I actually came up with an attack plan for this week—this I did instead of organizing the essay that is due in a few days; it’s amazing what procrastination can encourage you to do!—and I knew I had to recognize when I was becoming agitated. If you don’t realize you’re doing it, then you can’t correct it, right? This was probably the hardest part of the week, to admit when I was wrong and make the choice to change my attitude. But I knew I had to start here if I wanted to get anywhere else, and please, take my word when I say that it is far easier to identify bad behavior and put an end to it in the beginning. Let me tell you, though, that I was greatly relieved when I began to notice the signs of my slipping composure rather quickly—a tapping foot, a strand of twisted hair around my finger, clenching my jaw, rolling my eyes, and a litany of other anxious tells. Not saying I always stopped the action or changed my attitude, because it is hard to break habits, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It was a constant challenge (ah, yes, that pesky little word of improvement) to catch myself, but I made an effort, sometimes even begrudgingly so, but I really wanted to try.

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

My epiphany about Patience and Peace being so closely linked came rather quickly at the start of this week. To practice Patience, oftentimes you have to be content and at Peace with something. It was hard to work on both at the same time, but this was actually one of my more productive weeks because I not only got to use a new Fruit (feel free to giggle, because it just sounds so funny … or maybe I’m just juiced up on java), but I was also forced to bring with me the previous skill that I had been working on. Up until this point, this whole endeavor was just a challenge, the results of which I was simply curious about. But now I am honestly excited to keep on with this and continue learning and improving.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the LORD has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

It is without a doubt easier to lose your cool and wallow in Grumpy Ville than to make an effort. As always, it is a choice. You decide whether or not you want to make the change. So, I guess the choice is up to you: The Easy Road, or the High Road? (Feel free to switch lanes at any time)    

Week 1: Love

Published September 7, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Hey, everyone! Okay, so with school forcing me back into finding my “groove” again and working (babysitting, housekeeping, data entry for the Christian Coalition, etc. Yikes-A-Bee!), I have been a teensy bit busy this past week—hence my lack of a post on my usual Tuesday. Forgive me, loyal followers! But I also decided to start a Fruit of the Spirit Challenge, and so I wanted to wait until Friday so I had the whole week to let my fruit ripen (oh, yes; I intend to produce quite a few fruit puns … Did you get the “produce” joke?). I got the idea when I was writing my “Lend Me Your Ears” post and thought that this might be another fun adventure. Okay, so every Friday for nine weeks I will post about my efforts to practice each one of the Fruits of the Spirit and let you know what I discover. This isn’t so much of a show-and-tell as it is a New Years’ resolution to see if I can improve my outlook on life, exercise more patience and self-control, and, essentially, show more kindness and love to others. I’m also not just going to practice Love or Patience or Kindness for seven days, though: I will do my best to keep these Fruits with me for life and continue to demonstrate them day to day. Easy, right? We’ll find out!

“Faith, Hope, and Love remained. And the greatest of these is Love.” 

1 Corinthians 13:13

When I decided to start this particular challenge, I didn’t really have to ask myself what Love was. I mean, the definition of Love is pretty obvious, and so I assumed that I was going to start this off with an easy-peezy challenge. Most of you are aware how often I chow down on some humbling pie (or crow; whatever), so you can just add this one to the list. The small bump I ran into—on day 1, I might add—had more to do with how to emulate Love more in my life outside of saying it to family and friends. How could I show more Love? Didn’t I already show it in my actions? Wasn’t it just the same as exhibiting Kindness and Goodness to others? And I really, really did not want to go up to a random person at the store or school and tell them I loved them, so I hoped expressing it more verbally wasn’t what I needed to do. Actually, Day 1 of this little experiment to better myself came and went without any progress being attainted; I spent the entire day trying to figure out the how. By Day 2, I decided I just needed to do something. Period. But what could I do differently?

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

I started off slow—holding the door open for strangers, even if I had to stand there for longer than my patience allowed, and helping my mom with the groceries and dinner without being asked. Then I worked at being more forgiving when people made a mistake or interfered. I tried not to be so easily offended, to be a better listener, come through with my promises, pay attention more, laugh and smile more often with people, and be more sensitive to their needs. One of my biggest issues is that I don’t generally think before I speak, so then I decided to practice holding my tongue more and trying—really trying—to only say positive things. I was very surprised when toward the end of the week, I didn’t have to remind myself to stop and think as often, but sometimes I just knew whether or not it was a positive thing to voice. Now, keep in mind, I am the farthest thing from perfect, so I still slipped-up constantly during the week, but if I recognized it, I did my best to correct it afterwards. Don’t beat yourself up if you try to do this challenge with me and struggle with this part (or every part, if you’re like me), because it’s all about progress and growth; habits don’t change overnight! You gotta keep at it!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son for that whoever believes in Him shall not parish

but have eternal life in heaven.” John 3:16

Hmm. Did you notice some of the things I put into practice to exhibit Love? I didn’t even realize it until yesterday, but to show Love—the first of the Fruits of the Spirit and the most important Commandment—I had to emulate Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. It almost makes the rest of this challenge null, because we’ve already covered all nine of the Fruits in one week! But I really want to focus on each of these individually, because obviously I learn more when I break it down. I really don’t have anything profound to say about this first week other than my realization that Love is at the center of it all. I also think that this will end up being my most challenging week because it forced me to put all the other qualities into practice, and that was not easy. I feel like Week 1 was preparing me for the following weeks and giving me a sort of “crash course” in what to expect. I don’t know about you, but I am very interested to see what happens between now and next Friday. Stay tuned for Joy!

“The road to true love never did run smooth.” –Shakespeare

I Turned Out Okay. . .

Published May 25, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

“And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.” Thessalonians 5:14

I’ve been looking over a list of author questions for an interview I’m doing with a blog, and one of the questions got me to thinking about how energetic—that’s a modest word—I was as a kid. Generally, I make a point of not overthinking my childhood because it can be rather exhausting for my old and weathered mind, but once my head gets wrapped around an idea, I tend to go for it. So, I was sitting there sorting through some of the more . . . interesting moments in my young life that might be entertaining for those who would come across the interview. You have to understand, I was a curious youngster and, well, to be honest I was the type of kid who would have had a Kool-Aid mustache as a permanent fixture on their upper lip (though I wasn’t really allowed to have Kool-Aid because it made me more hyper than usual). If you continue reading, you’ll understand why I was having a little trouble coming up with one singular crazy childhood memory that really jumped out at me.

I decided I could talk about the time when I was four or five and stuck a dead skunk on my head so I could look like Davy “Cricket” (I was curious, remember?). The horrified looks on my mom’s and grandma’s faces are priceless now, but at the time I was very disgruntled that they didn’t like my fashion statement. Or I could tell my future audience about my first time at the “big girl’s” tea party. My grandma Ruth, a fellow storyteller, used to throw these fantastically elaborate tea parties for all her grand-girls each summer. I was five and had been dying to go to one of the grown up parties that my two older sisters had been going to for years, so I was ecstatic to be invited that year. Unfortunately, that excitement turned into energy in my little body (the equivalent of five Snickers bars in a middle school boy). Since I was all hopped up on joy, I spent ten plus minutes before the party officially started running around the elegantly decorated table in my party dress, snatching whatever food my little hands could hold and munching on pre-tea snacks as my grandma chased after me. Then there was that year when I was really young that I ate all the erasers off the pencils. Mom tried to break that habit by putting cayenne pepper on all the erasers, but apparently I was born with a thirst for spice, so. . . For the record, I’ve been cold-turkey off the stuff for nearly two decades. Praise the LORD!

Somehow, amidst all these musings about my eventful childhood, I remembered with great clarity how I learned the alphabet. Seems like an odd jump to go from chewing erasers and inventing skunk hats (it was revolutionary, I tell you!) to my ABC’s, but this is how my train of thought works. First off, let me tell you that my grandpa Don is awesome. He is the most patient man you will ever meet, my co-demiser of the evilius gopherous (gopher) species, the man who taught me to tie my shoes, and he is my favorite person to cook and bake for—he loves food as much as I do!

I think I was in kindergarten, and my mom could not for the life of her get me to sit down for more than a minute to learn the alphabet. So, she called in her dad, the master of the ABC’s and a former teacher. Somehow, my grandpa realized that it wasn’t the letters I was having trouble with, but rather sitting still that was keeping me from concentrating. Patient man that he was, he brought out the chart and plastic letters and allowed me to climb on the back of his chair, duck under the table, jump up and down in place, hang upside down from the chair seat, and run around in circles while I shouted the letters back to him. Needless to say, I had my ABC’s memorized by lunch. God seriously gifted him with patience, and I have no idea how he sat there so calmly that morning, but I’m glad he did.

It helps to have someone who understands you. I realize that not everyone has someone in their life who is patient enough to figure them out, but my life is full of encouraging people—my grandpa is one of these special people. I know I would have eventually learned my ABC’s, because my mom is an incredible teacher and learned from the best, but I like to think that my grandpa gave me that little push toward my future in writing, so I should thank him for jump-starting my career. I mean, what author doesn’t know the alphabet?

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” -Saint Augustine

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