Originally published Monday, 14 March 2016.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV
Before I was married, I imagined that patience was needed before the altar more than afterward. In our pursuit for purity in our relationship I thought I was exercising all the patience I would need to... and it was a lot, so I figured God would think I’d learned all the patience I needed. Me and our marriage wouldn’t need any more patience exercises or anything like that, right?.... and heaven laughed...hysterically!
Apparently patience and waiting were something that was going to become a hallmark of the Motls. We waited seven years to get married, almost ten years to have our little one after years of infertility, ministry desires have waited and simmered (and continue to) for seasons until the Lord lined circumstances up for all the needed ingredients to blossom. And those are just the public, visible occasions for patience.
Just like you, our marriage has held countless private moments where one or both of us just had to dust off our patience pants and wait. Life brings grief, loss, disappointment - and as we process those things individually we might feel out of sink with our spouse. One of us might be enjoying a season of blessing and success while the other struggles under a feeling of disappointment or failure because some doors were closed. The Lord might lay a goal or direction on one person’s heart, but the other doesn’t feel the same urgency. Patience is the glue that holds our hearts together as we walk this journey of life.
I remember one day I was so very done holding onto patience over one area of our marriage. I was just so discouraged and frustrated I was ready to let it all explode. I felt the Lord so distinctly say to me, “Now is not the time to let go of patience.” It was like He was showing me that it was simply a matter of choosing to not let this gift, this shining facet of His character, fall from my grip. I had no idea if holding onto patience would produce any changes, but I decided I’d hang on. Maybe just for today, but I’d hang onto God’s character for our relationship. Later that day, my man actually said, “I know you’ve been really patient about all this and I’ve been trying...” He didn’t know it, but I went and balled my eyes out. I was a hair away from blasting him because I felt entitled to it, yet he was trying and noticing that I’d been patient. I could have washed away so much from his good efforts and our relationship with one moment of lost patience. That area of our relationship still requires patience and some of the desired outcomes I might wish for haven’t happened yet. But holding onto patience has produced fruit in me. And who knows, maybe that’s the point of it all.
Early in our marriage, my hubby and I took another newlywed couple camping in Yosemite. We went on this epic hike. But it was a LOT longer, than we’d packed water for. The other husband in our little newlywed group took off ahead of everyone, forgoing the trails and making his own. He had his water and his wife’s. I shared mine with her and my little water bottle was soon empty. I didn’t realize what was wrong at the time, but since I tend to not drink enough water anyway, I got dehydrated. The rest of the hike I was like a deadweight. My hubby got behind me and kept encouraging me on. I was so thankful he stayed back with me even though he could have been making much better time. Eventually we got to the top and the view was amazing! He took me to the top of the world!
That hike has been a picture for me time and time again. We can hike off on our own, or we can stick together and even if it feels like the other person (or their issue at the time) is a bit of deadweight, the view from the top will take our breath away and it’s worth the extra time and patience to share it.
If patience is a fruit of the Spirit you'd like to grow more in, check out Free to Flourish: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit.