"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." - Romans 5: 1-4 . . . . . .
Last week, the group I serve with at church wanted to recognize other church members who they believe were showing the fruits of the spirit by writing the fruit on a small piece of paper and giving it to them. A friend caught me off guard and handed me this piece of paper that said "patience." She said it was for everything I had been going through this year.
Being recognized for anything makes me uncomfortable, but it got me thinking. This church launched last September, and I have been attending since Launch Day. This means these people--the people who have become friends, my church family--have watched me go from downcast and crying almost every Sunday and every small group, hardly speaking to anyone, to serving on the team, smiling, and interacting with others. This person has watched me grow. And the one thing I have been hearing from God consistently this entire season is "patience." So it's no coincidence I was given that word.
. . . . . .
I tend to process emotions and changes pretty quickly. I used to get upset when others didn't process this stuff as quickly as I did, which usually led to more frustration. I'm that person that thinks "here is how to handle these emotions, put this piece here, and let's move on." But I've learned that I can't do that because pressuring people into processing what they're feeling won't help them process any quicker or any better.
So I have to practice patience and allow them to process in their own way and on their own time.
. . . . . .
I have been asked why I haven't moved on with my life. The initial response is simple: my heart has not changed, and for a while depression and anxiety ruled my life. But the more complex answer is that moving on looks different for everyone. And I chose to move forward.
I knew I couldn't stay in a depressive haze forever. But I also hated it so much when I got the "Christian responses" because they felt so insincere to me. The more I became involved in my church, though, and the more I began praying and learning about God, the more I felt like my world would be okay. Because I had to allow God to answer me, not people. And that's when I began hearing "patience."
So I stopped what I had been doing and took time to re-evaluate my choices and decided to take things in slowly for the first time in a long time. I began getting back into things I enjoyed. I started writing again. I took time to properly train and bond with Belle. I went back to my roots, so to speak. I started seeing the girl that I had been when I married my husband, and when she started to shine through again, I saw hope.
But it's not something that could happen overnight. Because trials breed patience, which breeds hope.
. . . . . .
The truth is, though, I am not that exact same girl. And thank goodness.
I am older. I know a bit more of myself. I have a stronger faith. I believe and love harder. I will try harder than that girl would have.
Because trials also change us. But they change us into who God wants us to be.
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If you are struggling, be patient. Often times the battle isn't ours; it's for God. I guarantee He is moving, even if you do not see direct evidence. You may not see it right that minute, but when you look back, you will see He did some incredible things.
And if you know someone who is struggling--it doesn't matter what the struggle is--be patient. If they don't process like you do, be patient. If they need time or space, grant it and be patient. If they don't want to talk about something, if they don't want to move forward, if they don't want to have the "Christian conversations," just be patient.
Sometimes we have to go through tough times to see God, to draw near to Him. He will use those storms to change you and to glorify Him. Those storms will build your character, teach you to persevere, and show you how to walk in love, patience, and gentleness.