The Root of Patience
By Audra Talley
Last year my kinesthetic, can’t-sit-still, son started kindergarten. Things went remarkably well; except for handwriting. His precise, but impatient nature gets easily overwhelmed. I could see the end coming, but pushed him to continue. Finally, patience worn thin, I dropped it . . . kind of. The rest of the year he traced his work, but didn’t write free-hand.
We’ve seen improvement this year, but he still struggles. My children progress at different rates dependant on the subject, their age, personality, gender, and what they ate for breakfast that morning. I swear their progress is inversely related to my patience that day. My oldest learns at a consistent, moderate-fast pace. My youngest learns by osmosis at a breathtaking pace. My middle though, learns in fits in starts that leave me a little metaphorically nauseous and often short on patience. Those stretches of brilliant comprehension make the slow stretches even more tedious.
Sometimes though, I think their progress has more to do with me than with them. While patience is something I have a decent helping of, I’m coming to grips with the reality that schooling my children the way God would have me do it requires far more than simple patience. As I sought a deeper understanding of it, I turned to my old faithful starting point: the definition. I don’t know about you, but practically every time I use Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary I am brought under conviction . . . by a dictionary! So, read his definition carefully.
“ Patience: endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from a Christian submission to the divine will.”
Read it again. Dwell on it a moment.
Endurance without murmuring can be a challenge, but because it is an action (or inaction) it is something that can be done out of sheer determination. I can just “zip it” and have the appearance of patience. After all, my kids can’t hear my ongoing mental dialogue of frustration, exhaustion, and negativity. It can be bettered with practice and it indeed it should be, but it is only a wispy tendril clinging to the root of true patience.
Constitutional fortitude is a fancy phrase for an inborn strength of will. Some people are naturally strong willed and their patience is like a stiff sucker root, straight and unbending. The mental dialogue never gets started because it is simply unacceptable and anything but patience will not be tolerated. This is where I naturally tend to fall and I have taken advantage of it, but its inherent flaw is that a ridged understanding of patience leaves no room for growth or genuine understanding of others.
Heroic pride. It seems almost absurd to see pride as part of the definition for patience, but how many times have I created a mental image of everything a patient homeschooling mom ought to be and, when I fall short, it is my hurt pride that props up my patience? This root is thick and sturdy, but unfettered can choke out the entire root system.
But, oh, the last portion of that definition! This is truly the tap root, the source, of true patience; submission to the will of God. Such an exquisitely simple concept, but how very hard it is. Godly patience is all about letting God reach into us and mold our will to His purpose. Then, we let His love-laden patience work life in our children. He is not merely our example of patience; He is the source of it. It is here that the root becomes capable of holding up the tree, of supporting our children and our families, of letting our children learn the way they need to. It is a lesson I am learning slowly, but one I am grateful to benefit from daily from my heavenly Father.
Audra Talley was born and raised in Idaho, was homeschooled K-12, and graduated from CofI with a degree in political science and history. She is currently a full time domestic engineer and homeschooling momma. Married to the man of her dreams for nearly 12 years, Audra and her husband have four children (16, 8, 6, almost 4 years of age). The youngest is the only girl in the bunch. The Talley family loves spending time together and does lots of fishing, camping, hiking (anything outdoors). Calling Nampa home, Audra is involved in her church, various homeschool activities, and whatever adventures pop up.