Have you ever said something like this to your kids when things are challenging?
“Sorry I was upset. You know that I love you, but I am just so frustrated right now!”
The words, “I love you,” are buried in the middle of this defense of angry behavior. They may well be familiar words. But the problem with familiar words is that they often lose their impact and may become background noise to your children. More is needed than just words. Real, tangible actions must accompany the words of love. Let’s start with patience.
I Corinthians 13 says that love is patient. A working definition of patience is living in the expectation of God’s care. Patience and frustration are polar opposites. If love is patient, then frustration is not an expression of love.
We often refer to patience as something that we can lose – as in “you are really causing me to lose my patience.” But how would it sound if you were to say “you are really causing me to lose my love for you?” If love is patient, then “losing” patience can be equated to losing love. Said this way the idea of losing patience is not a pretty one.
Both toddlers and teenagers are equally adept in calling for patience to be deployed. Love is not just a mindset, but a particular action that God commands us to take. Biblical love is not a natural thing. We can naturally love ice cream. We cannot naturally be patient. Biblical patience is the fruit of the Spirit. It cannot be modeled by sitting on a rocker on the front porch. It is modeled by a deep abiding trust that God will care for me as I seek to be a faithful parent. It is modeled by compassion replacing exasperation as you live with your children. It is modeled by patiently enduring in love the struggles your children have, just as your heavenly father is patient with you.
Loving your children is shown by patience. Any specific situation we face in raising our children can be challenging and overwhelming. To be patient is to believe that God will care for you and your child. You can believe that God has wisdom in his word that will exactly fit the situation at hand. You can offer patient love instead of frustration. You can trust God as you cry out to him for help. You can be different. You can, through the power of the Holy Spirit, be patient!