Patience and the Cat

Patience is a virtue right?

cat-1940489_1280I’ve watched as a cat waits for that perfect moment to pounce. They will wait…and wait…and wait. Long after I’ve completely lost interest, they’ll watch and wait.

Joyce Meyer said, “Patience is not simply the ability to wait–it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”

Watch the cat, and you’ll likely notice they focus on the object of their interest. Besides an occasional scratch or lick to settle an itch, they don’t move. I’m not like that.

You know that moment when you click on something on your computer or phone, and the little circle appears? And it circles, and circles, and circles? I’m out of there. I go do something else, and come back later, because I just don’t want to sit there waiting on the computer to think. I have better things to do. Lots of things.

domestic-cat-1774535_1280I wasn’t always so impatient. I raised three sons. And, as you can imagine, there was a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for everyone to get ready to go. Waiting while someone finds a missing shoe. Waiting while someone makes a last-minute stop in the bathroom. Waiting. I learned to carry a book, or a Kindle, or whatever I needed to keep busy while I waited.

But time is not the only reason we need to practice patience. What about putting up with attitudes and differing opinions? Sometimes you can’t fathom what a person is thinking. How in the world can they believe that? Why can’t they see things the way you do? Why doesn’t everyone just get along?

Be patient and understanding. Life is too short to be vengeful and malicious. — Phillips Brooks

Patience is hard. Sometimes it goes against the grain. It’s uncomfortable — like the sound of a fingernail on chalkboard. Irritating.

But patience often rewards you.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

watermelon-832055_1280Ah, the fruit. Waiting until that melon is fully ripened before you pick it, almost guarantees a sweet reward. You might get that promotion you waited so long for (without complaining). My children often received a reward from me for patiently waiting while I ran errands, or took care of business.

cats-1885228_1280Yes, the patient cat may catch the mouse, and bring the carcass to you as a prize. They assume you’ll be every bit as proud as they are and reward them in some way.

The Bible teaches that patience and perseverance will eventually pay off. You don’t like how things are going? Wait a while. Don’t complain, but do your part to ensure a change, if necessary. Continue to study and improve yourself. Let patience become your nature.

If the thing you desire seems out of reach–keep dreaming–stretch yourself a little bit. Like the cat, stay focused.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” — James 1:2-4 NIV

Love is a Battlefield

Remember that eighties song, Love is a Battlefield? This post is not about that song. But it does describe a battle similar to the one in the song.

Love is difficult. To keep love alive and your heart pliable, you need to learn to forgive. Forgiveness is hard, but not impossible. You can practice forgiveness daily, just by reading your social media timelines. Remember to keep an attitude of forgiveness as you read!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about courageous forgiveness (you can read that post here). running-573762_1280Often, forgiveness requires great strength. Forgiveness also requires something else: endurance. It’s not a sprint, it’s a cross-country run. You need to think in terms of forever.

mule-893336_1280How do you achieve the forever forgiveness? Being stubborn really helps–take it from one who knows. But it can also work against you. Stubborn refusal to forgive someone holds them captive…in your mind, emotions, soul. In your heart of hearts.

Let them go.

cat-1208511_1280
Come on, make my day!

You may feel you have every right to hold someone captive in your emotions. Their treatment of you was horrendous. He stole your innocence. She lied about you. Your father hit you. Your mother called you stupid. Therefore, you decide they will never hurt you again. Because you mean never to speak to them again, and if they even look your way–

Are you familiar with this kind of pain? The crying out? The anger?

When others meet the angry person you have become, they will want to turn around and run the other way. Can you blame them?

Not forgiving someone doesn’t always manifest as anger. Fear is another symptom of not releasing forgiveness. You may not want to leave your house, for fear of running into the person who hurt you or caused you pain. You may even consider changing churches, or leaving a job.

You’re on the run. And that’s not healthy, either.

In that post about courageous forgiveness, I talked about facing the hurt. Forgiving the perpetrator. Moving forward. Every time you remember the hurt, turn it around and say a prayer for the person who hurt you. This way, you’re taking ownership and retaining your freedom from the past.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.–John 8: 14-15 NIV

But you can’t do it alone. I have faith in God. I’m confident that when I pray, He listens. I’ve seen prayers work in my life. Sure, there were times when my prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling. Everyone goes through that. It’s a time of testing. Persevere.

chain-218900_1280Why? It’s worth it, to gain the confidence that comes with freedom. And now, I can move beyond what happened to me so long ago. I can trust and love, not just because the one who hurt me is long dead, but because I made peace with what happened. I released that person from the memory of guilt that kept a part of me in chains.

When I truly forgave and overcame the memories, the chains loosed and fell away. My freedom was complete.

I still have memories that pop in for a visit now and then. I see something on television, or hear someone talking about a similar event, and I’m tempted to experience that pain chain-297842_1280again. The chains rattle, as though they’re ready to jump back into place. But I refuse. I whisper my thanks to God for His everlasting forgiveness and mercy. My heart is free.

I’ll end with this story of an ongoing situation in my life. Someone among my relations can’t stand me. The problem started a long time ago through no fault of mine. Though I’ve tried over and over, I can’t fix the situation. My apologies for whatever it was that happened (I truly don’t know) were not only not accepted, but publicly rejected. I’ve even received letters calling me ugly names.

I was tempted to be angry, and actually gave in to anger for a while. I mourned the relationship that this event blocked. The sorrow, the anger, the mourning–these can also be stepping stones along the way to healing. Like when someone dies. When I finally recognized that, I was able to face the pain and let it go.

I can now say that I have forgiven this one also. I still hate the circumstances and mourn the loss of relationship–that’s only natural–but I love this individual with all my heart. I pray whenever I think of them. I bless them and hope for the best in their life. Will I ever see this relationship healed?

Though I would love that, it really doesn’t matter.

I’m no longer bound by the dark, hateful unforgiving nature that presses in on the bad circumstances of life. Neither am I bound by the temptation to hold a person captive with that hate. You see, holding them captive keeps them in my thoughts far longer than letting go of the bad feelings.

Love is a daily, ongoing battle sometimes. The battle is for your soul.

James1-2_8 Rev