Why I No Longer Pray for Patience in Parenting

5 Dec

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I don’t learn my life-lessons that quickly.  Wouldn’t it be nice to just read some instructions in a book, the close the cover, walk away and say to myself “got it, I will never make that mistake again.”  I usually have to walk the road–the long way–for any lessons to truly internalize.  This is a story about one of these long journeys.

Over the years I’ve been searching incessantly for patience in my mothering.  I have poured over parenting books and scripture, and I have prayed the same prayers over and over.

“Lord give me patience.”

“Lord, please let me respond in patience.”

“Lord supply me with the patience I need to answer them properly.”

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When it comes to bad kid-behavior, I am so predictable in my response patterns.  There are three levels: normal voice with a calm tone, outside voice with a serious tone, nuclear explosion.  
Normal. 
Serious…
Nuclear.

 Sometimes I can stay on serious-mode for three or four iterations, until I remember that I haven’t used my nuclear setting, and then they get a double portion of nuclear, which is followed by a brief period of time when I about black out.  Figuratively.  And to top it off, there is that back-blast of guilt and grief that always knocks me over. Anger in parenting is such a nasty cycle.

 

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There’s probably more than one reason my clever three-level correction plan hasn’t been working.  For one thing, I have allowed very irritating behavior to proliferate without giving it actual correction beyond verbal chastisement.  (Although, we recently completed a “manners boot camp” that truly changed things around here, and I think it will have lasting results…)  But aside from that, I’ve usually hovered over the old “give me patience” refrain in hopes that it will be the magic solution to fielding all the drama going down around me.

I’ve been living with constant waves of disappointment in them and myself.  It’s pretty difficult to enjoy my children in this craziness.  A couple of days ago, I asked the Lord why I don’t have any patience after all my begging for it.  And I got an answer so strong in my spirit that I knew it could only be His voice.  It said:

Stop asking for patience all the time. 
You should be asking for eyes to see the good.

For me that was a mic-drop.

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This whole time, I’ve been begging for patience to help me bear the horrible childish behavior in my home.  I’ve been waiting for a bunch of stand-alone good moments to add up and outscore the seemingly zillions of irritating moments…and the tally remains askew day after day after day.  It would be irresponsible of me to just “have patience” with the sin.  It would be damaging to overlook it–I do have to hold them accountable.  But since I have had this shift in my prayer/thought life, there is a peace that settles over these exasperating situations.  

  • To see the good, I have to look for it intertwined with all the sin. 
  • Good things are alive amidst the turmoil. 
  • In order to see the greatest amount of good around me, I gotta remember that it will be happening at the same time as the chaos is going down.

I have been missing it.  No longer.

He is bringing the good things before my eyes in droves.  I won’t spell them out for you, because they are personal to my experience.  But rest assured, in the heat of the bad moments, the morsels of good rise to the top and neutralize what would become an otherwise nuclear situation.  

And I think He has given me a mini-glimpse into how He sees.
Beauty is everywhere and it is enmeshed with all the ugliness that exists here on the Earth.   

But let’s not simplify it.  He redeemed the bad.  My personal life is a mire, so only through the lense of the Cross can He see the good that is here.  May I never forget that the restored relationship was so crushingly costly to Him.  I am enjoying a lifetime of approval that I SO did not earn.

So while I must still sort through all the nasty habits in my home (which include my own!) it’s coming from a much less irritated place.  My hair-trigger nuke dropper is under far better control. 

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In an effort to journal my development of eyes that see the good, I have been listing my children’s good deeds in my journal/iPhone notes app.  When I look purposefully, it’s much easier to see their kindnesses in action.  (They don’t jump out at me…because good acts are far quieter than the crazy-chaos-naughty acts.)  When I see it, I jot it.  After a couple of days, I have a lengthy list of their good moments in front of me, and this warms me to them.  Love can keep a record of rights, can’t it?  

One time, I even did a little ceremony at dinner by openly recognizing each child’s list during the week.  They didn’t know I was watching.  They were so proud of themselves and each other, and I could tell it was satisfying that their kindnesses did not go unnoticed.

It hurts my heart that I have not been congratulating them very often for the unseen/unheard good acts.  

Also, I am going to use my Instagram from time to time, using the hashtag #eyespursuinggood.  You’ll know that when I have posted an #eyespursuinggood pic, it’s because it was a moment of testing.  I am NOT here to brag on social media about my beautiful life. On the contrary — it will be because I am currently eyeing something good in order to diminish something bad that’s just gone down.

Will you join me?  If you are already my Insta follower, then this is what the tag is about.  If not, let’s add each other and get our eyes set on seeing good things.

I am humbled to have made progress in this area of my motherhood journey…I had to take the long road on this one, but it was worth it.

Leigh

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I have a beautiful walking path beside my home. #eyespursuinggood

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7 Responses to “Why I No Longer Pray for Patience in Parenting”

  1. Claire December 5, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

    i love everything about this Leigh. You are such a good mom and such a good role model for me and I love that picture of Adair 🙂

  2. Laura Carlton December 5, 2016 at 7:40 pm #

    You make me want to go back and have a do-over…..I could do better a 2nd time around. You inspire me to apply this to other areas of my life where I need to see the good. Love you!

    • the PRIME pursuit December 5, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

      Thanks. I really really love you and my upbringing was a total dream

  3. Jessica December 5, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    I absolutely love this Leigh! I need this reminder to see more good in my babies. More often than not I feel they are not ‘hearing’ me, maybe I need to ‘hear’ them more often. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Paul L. Smith December 5, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

    Claire – thank you for sharing on FB. Leigh – thank you for writing this. I am currently struggling to find the good amidst the poor choices by my often rebellious 18 year old. Thanks to your piece I will be changing my perspective. I typically have 3 responses like you except I go super nova instead of nuclear. Blessings to the Gust clan!

    • the PRIME pursuit December 5, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

      Paul you are further down the road than I…I know that the scenarios of frustration only get more complex and difficult…For so long I have been stuck in a rut in my parenting mindset, never scanning for the good in my kiddos but always feeling like I have to deal with the constant, never relenting bad. Paradigm shift for me. Thanks for “getting” it, I love this discussion!

  5. Alice December 5, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

    This is beautiful and so on point! I totally understand asking for patience…Praise God that He is so good to lead us in the right direction! Thank you for this honest viewpoint of parenting!

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