Without our permission, we’ve been handed a new normal. The control over our lives we thought we had has been usurped. Poof. Gone. And finding patience at home is one of the hardest parts of this quarantine life.
My own simmering pot of anxiety and restlessness has already suffered a few bubbling spills … Oops, that sentence was way more contrite than I meant it to be. My need for patience grows as my cabin fever increases…
Truthfully, there’s plenty to be impatient about. We seem to be stuck in a season of waiting.
- Things to go back to the old normal or for new routines to take root.
- Your kids to figure out how to entertain themselves.
- Working from home to feel natural and productive.
- New job opportunities because you just lost yours.
- Your spouse to help you out a little more.
- Yourself to get a grip and quit it with the daily emotional breakdowns.
You could add to this list with your own concerns, I’m sure. In fact, I can find plenty of reasons to be impatient, even when I’m not living in a quarantine crisis.
How can we find patience at home?
I’ll confess—I often justify my own impatience. Shouldn’t I get impatient when the cat won’t stop competing with my laptop for lap space? Or when my family’s previously unnoticed habits start driving me up the wall?
But what will you do with that pent-up frustration? While you can keep justifying outbursts, will that really help the situation? The people living with you probably have an opinion on that.
So, how can we foster real patience at home? Here are five tips.
1. Ask for patience.
To be honest, I’m the least patient with my family. The level of comfort we have translates in my mind “they can handle my impatience better than others.”
I know I should try harder, but I simply don’t have it within me, especially right now, to pull patience out at will. It’s a supernatural gift I have to want and ask to receive.
Thankfully, I know who has it. God’s Word tells us in James 4:2, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” Perhaps I don’t have the patience I need because I don’t ask for it.
The good news: No matter how many times I blow it and forget to pray for it, it’s never too late. If we truly want what is of Him, God gives to those who ask.
2. Pray for greater love.
It’s interesting that Paul begins the list of love’s attributes with “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4). It makes sense, though, because when someone who loves us unleashes their impatience on us, we’re taken aback. We don’t feel loved or cared for.
If love is patient, then the greater your love, the greater your patience. So what if we asked God to increase our love for our quarantine-mates and let Him increase our patience along with it?
3. Think before you speak.
Proverbs 17:27 wisely says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”
Do we intentionally restrain our words? Do we value fostering a “cool spirit” instead of a hot one?
When it comes to the nitty-gritty, the difference between patience and impatience is not in the situation itself, but in the response.
Patient people have not been served an irritation-free life on a silvery platter. They’ve simply chosen to pursue patience, training themselves to think before they speak. And we can choose to do the same.
4. Try a little thankfulness even during quarantine.
Many of the things we’re currently impatient with are not people-related, but circumstantial. We’re waiting to send the kids back to school or for the weather to change. Unlike with people, who we can at least attempt to change, there’s nothing we can do about our current situation. I find the best thing to do is look for ways to be thankful.
Where I live we’ve had two solid weeks of rain—not my ideal quarantine weather. But I’ve worked to thank God for the beautiful birds congregating around my bird feeder and for the spring flowers brightening our neighborhood. Opting for gratitude has genuinely cheered me up and helped me find a little more patience. We are, after all, asked to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
5. Give yourself grace.
Practicing patience at home includes practicing patience with yourself.
Maybe you checked off that last bullet point in the intro (the one about daily breakdowns?). There’s no way to predict how we’re going to react to unforeseen changes in our lives. And sometimes we don’t enjoy how our physical and emotional selves respond. Especially during a quarantine.
Case in point: Like clockwork, every Monday since this started, I’ve had a minor meltdown. Revving up for another week at home seems to take it out of me.
But I’m working on giving grace when I’m upset with myself, as well as with those I’m living with.
The speed at which and the vast number of things we’ve had to adapt to is unusual. Everyone will respond differently. So as I notice myself adapting slower than others in my home, I’m learning to say, “It’s OK.” If I cry a little bit more than the rest, “It’s OK.”
God gives me grace and so should I.
I keep thinking how consistently patient Jesus is with us. Psalm 103:13-14 says, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
Let’s pursue patience that looks like Christ’s in this time of new normals. And learn to accept that this life was never in our control in the first place.
Copyright © 2020 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Lauren Miller serves on staff with FamilyLife as a writer in Little Rock, Arkansas, though she’ll always be a California girl. She graduated from Biola University and the Torrey Honors Institute where the Lord first planted in her a love for family and marriage ministry. As a single, she loves serving the youth at her church, watching British dramas, and reading a good book in her free time.