I once heard a man say that a lack of patience was really a lack of love, and that rather than praying for more patience, I should ask God to fill me with more love. I was immediately offended by this idea, because as a parent, I love my children, wildly… I just needed more patience.
But the more these words tumbled through my cells, the deeper they penetrated my heart, and I have come around to a place of full agreement. Patience is a product of love and where the well of love is deep, so too will be the reserve of patience. After all, patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and the Spirit is love.
Love (and any of its fruit) cannot be contrived, learned from a book, or teased out of an emotional pep-talk-to-self; trust me, I’ve tried this for years and years – if this worked, I would be an expert. Willing there to be more love in my heart, is like waiting for my pine tree to grow dollar bills. I can desire it, but life doesn’t work that way.
However, as I gain increasing insight into the Father’s immeasurable affection for me, my own love-tank fills and spills over into my experience with my children. It’s like all that grace just can’t be contained in me alone and patience begins to come naturally, even when a child may bust out into unrestrained freakiness.
It’s almost like I don’t mind the ear-blowing tantrums and frustrating explosions of chaos, because grace has fitted me with new glasses and all I see is love when I look at this tense, drooling, red-faced two-year-old who desperately needs to consume the entire bottle of (ahem, real) maple syrup himself, thank you very much.
Love colors everything beautiful, even when the object of my affection is in the throes of something ugly; after all, this is how God responds to ugly: He loved me first, before I deserved it.
It was His love that made me beautiful on the inside and it is this power-love spilling over in me that will produce a spectacular harvest of Spirit-fruit in my heart towards others, regardless of how they live or behave.
When grace spills over like this it nourishes good things.