Finding the Root of Our Impatience

Root of Impatience | Christine M Chappell | Clean Home, Messy Heart

“I am a mom of an almost 2 year old girl and lately my patience is getting worse! When you are losing patience, what part of the bible do you run to?”

I was recently asked this question by a reader and thought it to be a terrific opportunity not only to reflect on my own heart, but also on what the Scriptures have to say about our struggles with impatience. Many of us, especially those with young children, find ourselves losing the battle to remain cool, calm, and collected when our patience is being tested. Quite frankly, the hope for change can appear slim as we see ourselves falling into the same response patterns time and time again.

Yet as with any issue of the heart, God’s Word has much to say about our impatience, just not in the way we might think.

The biggest key in overcoming our impatient tendencies is to first recognize it as a fruit of a root. Our impatience is a red flag of something else lying under the surface—a deeper heart issue that is being exposed by our inability to extend grace to our children or loved ones.

[bctt tweet=”The biggest key in overcoming our impatient tendencies is to first recognize it as a fruit of a root. ” username=”@chappellwrites”]

Here are some common examples of how impatience might look in our day, and the biblical sin that is producing such bad fruit:

  • Anger | My daughter continues to cling to my legs while screaming and crying, even though I know all her needs are met. I yell and push her away, angry because she is interfering my ability to do the chores.
  • Bitterness | My husband forgets to empty the cat litter, even though I asked him this morning. I snap at him rudely because this isn’t the first time he’s forgotten, and I wish he would just do what he said he was going to do.
  • Pride | I’m driving through traffic and stuck behind someone driving below the speed limit. I honk my horn and flash my lights because I want them to know I have important places to be and I need to get there quickly.

Somewhere in our impatience is the passion we have to be served, to be in control, to be obeyed—to be like God. Pride is our biggest stumbling block to growing in patience.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? James 4:1

Personally, the Lord has shown my issues with impatience are tied to anger and bitterness. When I am failing to give grace to my children, it’s because I’m angry at their behavior or the inconvenience they are causing me. Other times, I am bitter about having to deal with their sin because I would rather be doing something different…something I deem more important. Underlying all of this is my pride—the feeling that I deserve better than what the other person (child or otherwise) is giving me.

By labeling the sin which is being uncovered by our impatient responses, we can know the precise Scriptures to seek out and pray over. It is not until we address these underlying issues within our hearts that we can weed out those harmful roots—making room for the fruit of the Spirit to bud forth.

Once we have pinpointed the root cause of our impatience, we need to confess it, not only to the Lord, but also to others. Confession and repentance are critical because if we’re only asking Scripture to be a wand we waive while awaiting a magical dose of patience, we will be disappointed in the result. What we need is a changed, pure heart which can remain steadfast when we aren’t getting what we want, and the only way to achieve that is by the grace of the Spirit.

[bctt tweet=”What we need is a changed, pure heart which can remain steadfast when we aren’t getting what we want, and the only way to achieve that is by the grace of the Spirit.” username=”@chappellwrites”]

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

The Spirit propels us toward heart change as we identify sin, confess it, repent of it, and seek forgiveness from those we’ve been impatient with.

We may think it to be silly to apply our faith in such a way with a toddler or young child, but we aren’t looking to heal their hearts of anger and pride—we are looking to change our own. Therefore, even confessing and asking forgiveness from your little one when you have slipped into the impatience trap for the umpteenth time is of tremendous value. After all, is there ever too young of an age to model this biblical exercise of faith? From whom else are they to learn?

In the thick of the moment when those feelings of anger rise up, tempting us to grow impatient with our children, may our prayer for help from the Lord turn into confessional plea. Let’s confess as soon as we feel that war within which prohibits our ability to give grace to our children. “Lord, I am growing angry over this {inconvenience, situation, accident, behavioral issue, etc.} I repent of my anger and ask for your grace! Remind me of your unending patience toward me, the biggest of sinners! Empower me by your Spirit to respond in love.”

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! Psalm 143:10

[bctt tweet=”The Spirit propels us toward heart change as we identify sin, confess it, repent of it, and seek forgiveness from those we’ve been impatient with.” username=”@chappellwrites”]

 


 

If you’d like to take a closer look at your heart in this matter, may I suggest some journal prompts that may be of assistance:

  1. Write out a recent occurrence of you losing your temper/patience. Explain what it was about the other person’s actions that caused you to grow impatient, and describe how you felt in that moment. Use descriptive words such as angry, bitter, disappointed, frustrated, upset, disrespected, unimportant, etc. (you may consult the Identifying Pride or Anger “Hot Button” List provided below)
  2. In spite of the behavior of the other person involved, consider what the Lord has called you to address. Read Matthew 7:4-5. Confess the sinful responses you’ve been able to identify. Write the confession in your journal.
  3. Follow up your confession with a written intent to repent, meaning a declaration that you are desiring to turn away from that particular sinful response and instead call upon the Lord’s grace to change in that area. Use a promise from Scripture that affirms God’s willingness to heal you from the transgression, such as Psalm 51:10, Ezekiel 36:26-27, James 5:15, 1 John 1:9, Hebrews 8:12, etc.
  4. Close out your journal entry by affirming the gospel’s power in your life. Thank the Lord for his justice, mercy, and grace. Thank him for his Son, his sacrifice, and his forgiveness. Thank him for his Spirit and his Word.

Resources for reflection

Here are some additional resources you can use for further contemplation on this issue. They may assist you in identifying the sinful roots that are bearing the fruit of impatience.

Identifying Pride Handout (IBCD.org) {click here}

Anger “Hot Button” List (IBCD.org) {click here}

Anger/Heart Journal Page (IBCD.org) {click here}

Paul David Tripp, “Walk with Patience” (PaulTripp.com) {click here}


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