All Posts, Faith, Motherhood

The Mustard Seed Mum: When Patience Runs Out

As I sit to write, someone decided now was a good time to pull out the world’s noisiest leaf blower. It’s like an outdoor vacuum cleaner. It’s irritating. It’s persistent. It’s loud. And it’s getting louder – still. How long is this noise going to disrupt the street? Not only am I trying to type but my one year old is trying to nap. I. Need. Quiet. Don’t you just have those days when you feel someone out there is out to get you?

The last two days or so I have been under a dark cloud of depression. I feel trapped. Or maybe I am more like a leaf being tossed about by that leaf blower. My mind certainly feels like that. Tossed about with negative thinking.

Yesterday, my patience felt like it was wearing thin toward my children. Most of the time I am slowing down to enjoy them, and feeling so thankful to have two precious lives to look after and nurture. But then there is the constant shouting and shrieking, and the longing for a bit of quiet and personal space, and the endless tasks at home and I just want to curl up into the foetal position with noise-cancelling headphones – and cry.

Everything seems worse when I am that low. The things that I normally take in my stride cripple me. Then guilt ushers in and lies that whisper, ‘I’m a lousy parent’.

Sometimes those thoughts are louder than the leaf blower.

Patience wears thin, but what happens when patience is literally running out? Running on empty with the reserves depleted.

How can I keep going?

As I reflect on that question, four things come to mind.

Firstly, as hard as it is, I need to remember that I am not superhuman, but I am a sinner.

I can’t do everything. I am not the saviour of my children. I cannot fix the attitude of my own heart which is bent toward sin. My sin is ugly. I confess that. My children see it. My husband sees it. There are no Instagram filters in this house. It’s raw, honest and chaotic at times.

Secondly, there is a Saviour who is able to do all that I can’t.

He is able to lovingly restore me. He binds up the wounds of the broken-hearted. He bears the weight of my sin by what He did on the cross. He is patient with me when my patience runs out. He sits with me in the mess of my mind.

Thirdly, this will pass.

In the moment it feels as if it will never end. Anger is bubbling, frustration is felt and despair rolls in like a storm over the deep. But every day is a new day. I don’t know what to expect. But I do know that my emotions change and shift. Circumstances often see to that. Yet, my God does not change. He is the anchor in the storm, a refuge, an ever-present help in trouble, a firm foundation. He is my hiding place. I bring my anger and hurt to him. I plead, I cry, I rant. When I stop, He is there. He doesn’t jump ship or abandon me. He is not fed up with me. He created me. He understands me. He loves me.

Fourthly, love is patient.

Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In my flesh, my humanity, I am not all of these things at all. Yet, God by His Spirit works these out in the lives of those who follow Him bit by bit. It’s not something that I achieve by trying a little harder. The Lord is patient towards us – so patient that He desires for no one to perish in their sin, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). When we turn to Christ, His Spirit is in us, and He is shaping us little by little. I said sorry to my son that night for being frustrated with him a lot that day. I hope I can model forgiveness and humility to him because parents get it wrong too.

So what does all of that have to do with patience?

I think it’s looking to Jesus to help us when patience runs out. We are helpless in and of ourselves to change in those moments of impatience. Sure, there are small things we could do in the moment e.g. take five minutes away from the situation. But it is Jesus who is at work by the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians all around the world to help make lasting change in our heart by giving us a new heart and new desires. He makes beautiful things from what is broken. He does not wait for us to scrub up. When we were still enemies of God, Christ died for us (Romans 5:10).

If you are not a Christian, I encourage you to come to Jesus too. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t mess up, but it does mean you are no longer alienated from holy God. He can transform your whole life. He promises that He is with His people now and forever and gives life everlasting. Will you come to Jesus, with all of your mess, knowing that He loves sinners like you and me? There is so much more than our present circumstances. When all is said and done, even on our worst days, our best days, and our wanting-to-give-up days, all we will ever need is Jesus.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV