Power in patience


I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s power in patience.

Consider anyone you know who seems especially patient, and you’ll see a person who is in control. I don’t mean in control of their circumstances or in control of their life but in control of themselves.

Patient people tend to be relatively measured and calm. They have perspective. They don’t miss the forest for the trees. They’re fully present in the moment, and they don’t let frustrations derail them. They have self-control.

In fact, they can sometimes make patience seem easy… even effortless. But, make no mistake, it’s just as hard for them as it for the next person. The difference is in the practicing.

Practice makes permanent. Practice makes patience.

Patience recognizes that, while we often can’t control an outcome or timing or circumstances or people, we can always choose to control our response.

In fact, patience is like a diet. Most diets operate under the premise that you need to eat a certain way for a certain amount of time so you can achieve the results you want, and then life can continue as it did before. Only, all too often people end up gaining back all the weight – and then some – because the diet wasn’t sustainable.

The truly sustainable diet isn’t a diet at all… it’s making a change in eating habits that’s practical for the long haul. It’s only once we accept that there’s no magic formula… just a new way of life and a new way of eating – one bite at a time – that real change happens.

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The same is true with patience. We will become more patient once we come to the realization that patience isn’t a quick fix, but a change of mind. It’s changing how we react to disappointments, waiting, anger, frustration, things not happening that we wanted, or things happening that we didn’t want. Or things happening in a different way or a different timing than we’d hoped for. Step by step, patience is developing a determination to change the things we can change – ourselves… our actions and our reactions – and turning the things we can’t change over to God.

But, what if you’re like me, doing reasonably well with patience in many ways but feeling like you’re fighting a losing battle in certain situations?

Well, the Bible has the answer for that.


When I come to the end of myself (which is often…), Jesus is always there to fill up my weakness with his strength. And, what He’ll do for me, He can do for you.

Can’t do it on your own?

Power up…



Patiently waiting…


I’m convinced our ability to navigate ‘waiting’ is pivotal to patience.

Just consider all the things we could be waiting for at any given minute…

Waiting for something to start, waiting for something to end, waiting for something to happen, waiting for answers, waiting for healing, waiting for results, waiting for justice. Or small things like waiting in traffic, waiting in line, and waiting in waiting rooms. (I find it humorous that they’re actually called waiting rooms, pretty much giving you the heads up that waiting will happen).

I’m famous for standing in a line and then switching to a different line, that seems like it’s progressing faster… only to discover that the line I’d abandoned was the quickest. The same goes for waiting in traffic. And yet I still persist in changing lines and lanes. Although, while it used to regularly drive me crazy, I’ve come to pretty much expect it. My ability to patiently wait has improved over time. And, when I find impatience creeping in, it’s often a measured response.

But, trust me, patience doesn’t come easily. Or perfectly. I’ve worked on patience probably more than any other attribute in my life. And I know better than to ever think I’ve mastered it because that’s precisely when circumstances show me how far I still have to go.


Our 21 month purebreed British bulldog, Charlie, is a dog who’s always waiting.

Waiting for water.

His need is insatiable to the point of fixation. According to the vet, it’s psychological. But, to Charlie, the need is very real.

He will drink to the bottom of his dish, no matter how much water is in it. He’ll drink until he gets sick (which history has shown us repeatedly). To him, water is the equivalent of a t-bone steak. So we have to be keepers of the water dish.

And so, Charlie is a dog who waits.

Some days, his entire day is spent waiting for water. He’ll lay by his food dish for hours. If water should appear, he doesn’t want to miss it. But, regardless of how often he gets water, as soon as he’s finished drinking, he starts the waiting process all over again. Sometimes, he’ll break it up with naps but, trust me, a whole of waiting goes on.

Charlie has become a very patient dog. But, even then, occasionally the waiting gets to be too much, and he’ll bark once as if to say, ‘Hurry up, people!’. But, we just say no, and he goes back to waiting… because he’s learned that he’s most apt to get what he’s waiting for when he’s being patient.


That’s a valuable lesson for people. Our patience might not always achieve the results we’re hoping for but it will always do far more than our impatience will. At the very least, being patient changes us.  We become kinder, more tolerant, more tolerable, and self-controlled people. Happier people… because impatience never made anyone happier. Or more popular.

So… need patience?

Just wait for it…


Have patience…

Patience is foundational to navigating life. But, patience doesn’t come easily to most of us, perhaps because it gets tested so many times in any given day.
Last week, I was driving in the middle of three lanes of northbound traffic during rush hour traffic through an intersection where they’re constructing the first diverging diamond interchange in Canada. As I started to pass under the recently laid spans of the bridge deck, a heavy piece of bolted metal dropped onto the hood of my car, leaving distinct indentations and damage to the paint.
Have patience…
Two days later, we took our 21 month old British bulldog on a rare drive only to have him pee on the seat between us shortly after we had stopped to give him an outdoor pee break.
Have patience…
The day after that, I wrote an entire blog post that disappeared forever just as I was about to publish it (even though I had saved it numerous times throughout the process).
Have patience…
A couple of days after that, life threw me an unexpected – and unpleasant – curveball that I didn’t see coming, and that I’m continuing to have to deal with.
Have patience…
Several months ago, I had received a recall notice in the mail for my car, which I took to the dealership only to discover that the notice was for my last Nissan vehicle. The one I had traded in 3 1/2 years earlier. I phoned Nissan Canada to have the error corrected, and then promptly forgot about it until today, when I received a second recall notice in the mail for the same vehicle.
Have patience…
I did reasonably well with 4 of the 5 instances I’ve described above but I assure you that’s not always the case. Patience is something I grapple with circumstance by circumstance, and I’m reasonably certain I’m not the only one.
Just this past week in the news… Justin Bieber got decked after punching a guy in the face in Cleveland. Twin sisters got in a physical altercation while driving in Maui, and one lost her life when the car subsequently plunged off a cliff. A disagreement in a Costco parking lot in Toronto turned into a brawl between two middle aged couples, prompting one news source to say that we’re living in an age of rage.
This is what the Bible has to say about patience…
“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” Proverbs 14:29
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32
It’s easy to be impatient and hard to be patient. But patience is worth it. Impatient people are rarely happy people and usually not that fun to be around, not to mention that others tend to notice when you do things that go against the tide of human nature.
Sometimes you even get featured on Oprah.
But, God always notices even if no one else does.
My goal, my prayer, and my hope is that I will get patience right far more often than I don’t. That the times I demonstrate patience will point others to the One who is able to do in me exceedingly abundantly above all I could ever ask or think.
The patience of Job?
I’m aiming for the patience of Joy

Are you packing?

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I’ve decided that driving – particularly in rush hour traffic – is an excellent litmus test of character.

I both live and work close to one of the city’s major arteries, just 19 km (12 miles) from one to the other.  Six lanes of traffic on a divided highway.  Speed limit 100 km (60 miles) per hour.

When I travel to work each weekday at 6:30 a.m., traffic is relatively heavy but moves along briskly.

It typically takes 12 to 15 minutes to get to my destination.


My after work commute is an entirely different story.  When I leave work at 4:00 p.m., traffic is ‘stop and go’ most – if not all – the way.

It typically takes up to 63 minutes to get home.

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Last Friday, it took 59 minutes.

Not so nice…

I had ample warning.  As soon as I started the car, the radio host cheerfully announced that all major arteries were clogged due to various mishaps, and that the commute was going to be even slower than usual.

His advice to drivers?

“Pack some patience”.

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I had 59 minutes to consider that statement.  Here’s what I came up with.

When you go on a trip, before you even leave home, you carefully decide what to pack in order to make the journey as enjoyable as possible.

No one starts packing in the middle of a trip.

And anyone who’s ever not packed well will tell you that the trip instantly becomes more stressful.  Minor annoyances become magnified.  Nothing seems to go right.  Tempers run short.

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It pays to plan ahead.

That analogy carries over to driving in rush hour traffic.  You’re going to be on the trip regardless, so it only makes sense to plan ahead to ensure it will be as stress-free as possible.

It pays to pack patience.

I’ve seen perfectly nice, normal people get into their vehicles and then somehow lose their minds behind the wheel.  Cutting off people, driving on the shoulder, weaving across lanes, recklessly speeding, taking risky and unnecessary chances, road rage, and more.

You know what I’m talking about…

Dangerous impatience.

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I see the results of impatience every day.  Someone rolls their car after losing control when they sped across three lanes of traffic.  A small car sustains heavy damage when a Ford F-150 rams into the back.  Multiple car pile-ups.  Injury accidents.

What I don’t see very often is patience.

So, yesterday, I decided to be intentional about it.  I packed late but at least I packed.  I’m usually reasonably patient in traffic but I’m no saint.  Things get to me as much as the next person.  I can always use improvement.

I can honestly say that it really did help to focus on being patient right from the beginning.

For the most part, I was able to ignore the sometimes ridiculous antics of other drivers, and to stay relatively relaxed as I inched along at a snails pace.

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At the 51 minute mark, a small car cut in front of me without warning, and promptly slammed on his brakes.  I came to a stop thisclose to his back bumper.

The word ‘jerk’ was possibly uttered.

Ok, probably uttered.  But I did only whisper it (true story..).

So… I was less than perfect.  But, just imagine if I hadn’t been focusing on patience in the first place.

No thanks…

The bottom line?

I’m packing…

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The patience of Joy

I’m trying so very hard to be patient today.  I’m not sure how much I’m succeeding.  Part of the problem is I have way too much time to think lately… and thinking is usually counter-productive to patience.

For a very long time now, I’ve been having to do a whole lot of waiting in my life.  And, to be honest, it’s getting kind of tiring.  So much so that, today, I started to bargain with myself.  If I could only get a permanent, full-time job, I would be so much more patient with everything else in my my life that I’m waiting on.  I just need to be able to stop waiting for even one thing.

Uh-huh.  As if that’s even up to me.

Oh, it does involve effort on my part.  After all, it would be extremely unusual to be offered a job I didn’t even apply for.  But, the facts are that the outcome is up to someone else, not me.  And, so I wait.  Whether I want to or not.  Although, who really does want to wait?

I came across a definition of patience today that was a real reality check…

“Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity.”

Wow…  That deserves a moment of silence.  I’m thinking this could partially explain why people refer to the patience of Job and not the patience of Joy.

I have to say that I have a renewed respect for Job.  He lost everything.  His home, his possessions, his children, his wealth, and even his health… and only then did he lose his patience (if you consider patience in the context of that definition).  There’s a reason his story is included in the Bible.  Few, if any, of us are anywhere near as patient as Job, myself included.

But, if Job could be patient through such devastating circumstances, surely I can learn to be patient with the things I’m waiting on.  God is in control, and He’ll work everything out at the right time, in the right way.

He did it for Job, He will do it for me.

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