I’m reminded nearly every day that patience is last on my list of character traits. Even if I seem patient on the outside, I’m feeling pressure to move forward on the inside. It is often torment to wait on others who don’t move at my pace.
By the grace of God I’m learning that my pace doesn’t rule the day. In fact, no man’s pace does. The Holy Spirit sets the pace in every Christian’s heart and life. Sensing that pace is what we have to learn to do.
I’m also reminded quite often that in the affairs of the heart, when a man is finding out about his disconnection, or a woman has been hurt by his disconnection for years, healing takes time. A lot of it! And, in general, there’s a great gulf between how a man understands change and how a woman does.
My pastor recently said this about how men and women experience change. A man can learn something about himself that needs to change, something that has been hurting his wife or family, and it’s like he’s on a jet-ski. Once he learns it he can whip that jet-ski around and head the other way quickly.
While women, once they’ve been hurt by that man, have hearts that turn like the Titanic. It takes long, slow, deliberate motions, with much observation to make sure that when that boat turns, it’s moving in a safe direction.
This may not be true of every man or woman, but in general, I think he’s got a good point. The reason I think so is that I talk regularly to men and women about disconnection, and I hear their stories. I have long phone conversations with men who have turned their relational jet-ski around (at least their hearts have turned) and want their women to get all excited with them about it.
When they tell their wives how God has changed them, they are met with the backside of the Titanic, continuing to steam away from them. It’s why I tell men not to talk about change, it often sickens women. I tell them to simply change and say nothing. Their wives are perceptive. They will know when it’s time to start turning the ship around.
And this is where patience comes in. We often fail to realize that it took many, many years to become disconnected. And that we have lived a disconnected life for years after. It is foolish to think that simply because our hearts have changed that our behavior can change overnight.
The problem is that men become impatient when their wives don’t acknowledge the change. And women become impatient when men don’t change in the way they need them to. One of the chapters in my book The Disconnected Man is actually titled Patience Lasts A Long Time.
As a culture, I think we are very impatient. We are used to having everything we need at our fingertips. We have to wait very little compared to other cultures and even other generations in our own culture. Unfortunately, we carry the same, have it now, expectations into relationships.
But the Bible calls us to a different posture when it comes to patience. Meditate on these to help reset your mind and heart.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Ecclesiates 7:8-9
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
That last verse is a reminder of how patient God has been with us. His is a great example of how we should be toward our spouse.
Men, be patient with your wives. Don’t press them to accept your ‘change’. Let them grow into it. Give them time to trust you again. Women, don’t continue to expect something from him that he’s not yet able to give. Don’t allow bitterness to seep into your wounds. Keep praying and watching while graciously respecting him for his good qualities. Both, cry out to the Lord to teach you patience and give you the strength to endure. Relationships can change for the better when we wait long enough for God to work.