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when patience is a kind of suffering

Katie and Henry at the farm

Patience is a word we toss at small things.

Waiting for dinner, for traffic to move, for the phone call, for the slow walker, slow talker, slow thinker. . .

A commonplace patience. Spoken in just a minutes. Implying an end to the wait . . .

I wonder whether there is anything that requires more patience than waiting for someone to become . . . Patience seems inadequate for that sort of waiting. Sometimes, the old words are better.

Love suffers long . . .

Long-suffering*
a. to not lose heart, to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes
b. to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others

This word? This word is a love story.

Long-suffering is a covenant. The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness . . . 

Long-suffering allows time. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity . . .

Long-suffering is generous mercy on the sinner begging forgiveness of foolish debts: Lord have patience with me and I will pay thee all . . .

Compassion, grace, mercy, forgiveness intertwined, woven through God’s long-suffering sort of love over and over and over through laws, through lifetimes, through generations, through priests, through kings, through prophets, through Jesus, through the pen of St. Paul: love suffers long.

This is God’s love. The love a parent has for a precious child. The love that waits an eternity for us to catch up. The long-suffering love that outlasts our foolishness.

Oh friend, this is a hard kind of love to do. 

I know.

I quantified waiting in days, weeks, months — not years, not lifetimes.

I measured forgiveness in chances.

I made threats, ultimatums, behavior checklists, demands.

I expected too much too soon . . . the perfect dad and husband should emerge from the years chained to addiction.

I didn’t want to wait for God to work His wonderful long-suffering ways. I wanted Dave to be the person he was supposed to be today.

God, you are too slow . . .

I don’t know when a Dave clean and sober for real finally became enough for me. When I realized this honesty was laying a strong foundation for an entirely new way to live.

Love is patient.

Maybe, then, patience is a prayer. A sacrifice. A letting go. Not my timing, but God’s.

Patient while layers of deception are peeled away.

Patient while demons are exposed and destroyed.

Patient while life is relearned.

Patience must be a forgiving grace. A grace that works both ways.

There came a time when Dave had to learn to be patient with me.

Patient while a tightly wound knot of pain is picked apart til undone.

Trust is not rebuilt overnight, even by the most earnest and true. Too many lies, too many promises, too many words, too many times, too many years.

Patient . . .

while I grilled mercilessly

while I ranted angrily

while I hurled wild, wounding accusations

while I hid

while I let go of defenses

while I healed in places addiction leaves ugly scars

while I learn how to deal with myself after so many years of blaming my faults on him.

Maybe that’s it — the key to patient love — realizing there might be a tiny bit of suffering long involved in being married to me.

* * * * *

Sometimes, no matter how imperfect I know I am, I forget my flaws.

But God is patient with the impatient.

His love suffers long, waiting for me, without a list of demands, without unreasonable expectations.

He rewrites in His own hand what I have smashed in anger.

He dispenses endless forgiveness when I’d rather pout on a hillside under a plant.

And His kindness leads me to repentance.

Just as it does with Dave.

* * * * * * * * * *

*Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

1 Corinthians 13:4
Exodus 34:6
Romans 2:4
Jonah 4:2
Matthew 18:26

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sue #

    Thank you for writing this. I am reading it now at a time when I am tired of waiting. I read somewhere else today that God uses our love for our spouse to teach our children how to love and to let them know they are loved (even when they mess up). It is a confusing mess to be in. The world says leave, I feel the Lord is saying wait. Reading your blog confirms it. I am that tight knot of a not so trusting spouse. It us hard to love and be loved as a knot.

    Like

    02/26/2014
    • Oh, it really is confusing, Sue. The beautiful thing to me is that God is patient with me and my knotted up self, too. All decisions are difficult, especially when you have children to worry about as well. Praying for you tonight for wisdom. — Deb

      Like

      03/01/2014
  2. D K #

    Good thoughts – thankful that God is patient with impatient me, too.

    Like

    02/26/2014
    • Honestly, I sometimes have to remind myself I’m not superior because my sins seem more acceptable. I think it helps.

      Like

      03/01/2014
  3. Dawn #

    Deb, I feel like you’re reading my thoughts…but you’ve been where I’m at, so you know my thoughts. You have an incredible way of putting it all on “paper”. Thank you for taking the time to do it. Dawn

    Like

    02/28/2014
    • Thank you, Dawn. Some days it’s hard to rehash the past, but remembering moves us forward, too — remembering how God has changed us both. And if any of this helps people going through addiction, it redeems a very unlovely past. I’m so happy you are here!

      Like

      03/01/2014

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