Inward Discovery: Illusive Patience 

By Rob Gibson  May 12, 2016

Post #4 in: Gleanings from a Sabbatical. My hope is my journey, potholes and flat tires included, will help you on your journey too.  

A primary focus of the journey was to meet God deeply in my soul. That may sound godly and pastor-ish, but it was a selfish want. I wanted God to fix me, fix my frustrations, fix my brokenness and do it quickly. He is God after all, so he could “Git Er Done” if he wanted. I wanted it now, because my patience was tattered and frayed. I learned that I’m in a big hairy hurry and God is not – he wants a relationship, not a quick fix. 

I thought I had learned (past tense, done, nailed it) patience at a deep level 18 years ago. I was fired three times in two days by my business mentor, friend and man my kids called Uncle. My career, business investment, close family friendship and a lot of money painfully vanished. We fought a costly legal battle over honoring your word, doing what is right, and not hurting innocent people. The battle scars challenged and taught me forgiveness and patience. Patience with believers who act badly, patience with my wife as she hurt over lost trust, patience with friends who stop caring, and patience to trust God to do justice his way on his schedule. I learned patience as I fought to restrain myself from condemning him (he is a sinner like me, his sin just hit me head on) and resisting the urge to beat the fool out of a someone I trusted and hurt me. 

That was a lesson in patience, but I wasn’t done yet. It fueled a desire to fight against the immoral and unjust, to make things right. You know, there is a lot of wrong stuff in this jacked-up broken world! So it can be an endless, exhausting fight. 

One big broken thing, though I didn’t immediately focus here, is ME. It’s always easier to focus on external problems than look into my own soul. So I took the fight to the world through ministry. However internally my impatience and dis-ease was deeply fueled by a battle against my own brokenness and inability to get it all right, be really good one, the way I expect the world to be. All have sinned and fallen short, got it, but I can fix that!  

Now my head logically gets that I can’t “fix” everything and make everything all right, but logic doesn’t fix the pangs of our heart. As the Troll in Frozen (Disney, 2013) says, “the head can be persuaded…the heart is not so easily changed.” See my heart impatiently wants everything to be right, especially with me. I am a perfectionist by nature (and that’s not a virtue). On the Enneagram (a nine point personality profile) I am the “moral Reformer/Perfectionist who strives intensely to get it rIght and make the world a better place. Not necessarily vices, except when my heart says my value, worth and well being are intricately connected to being right and getting it right. 

The result is a touch of craziness – because value, worth and wellbeing are out of reach in this paradigm. The internal drive to perform, reform and perfect torches the impatient fuse. When it blows the dynamite is demanding intensity, criticism and seething anger as I doggedly seek to fix stuff so the world and I will be ok, meet the (my) standard, be above criticism and have it right. The problem is a perfectionists standards are never met … it’s never right enough and perfect is allusive in this broken world.

So my selfish demand was for God to fix it all, especially me. The challenge is God said that won’t happen till Christ returns and that exacerbates an inward groaning for the day of redemption (Romans 8:23). God is trying my patience and taking me deeper into a perfectly secure relationship with himself!  

Next week I’ll talk about patience in brokenness and receiving God’s love.

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