I've fooled myself into thinking that patience is not flipping off the punk who cut me and my minivan off in traffic. Or that patience is being kind to the receptionist who forgot she put me on hold, but didn't apologize.
But real patience--oh, I'm learning--cuts deep. It stings. It burns. It is not rewarding in the short-run, and the short-run might last an earthly lifetime.
Real patience for me is telling my kids for the 38th time in one day that we do not speak to others "like that," without speaking, myself, "like that."
Real patience for me is not waking up resentful every morning that my beautiful dress and sparkly high heels sit dusty in my closet after a year of asking my husband to take me on a "fancy" date.
Real patience for me is continuing to call a relative who wants more from me than I can give, and not letting their slander root bitterness in my heart.
Real patience for me is allowing a friend who always lets me down to keep offering herself to me, knowing she will again disappoint me--because she has not yet been completed in Christ.
Real patience for me is living close to people who can offer no neighborly warmth, and not spending every waking moment trying to mend the situation or find a new home.
I am so thankful Jesus was patient with Paul. Paul maligned Him, yet Jesus was patient with him. Paul hurt those Jesus gave His very life for, yet Jesus was patient with his incompleteness, his ignorance, his spite and vindictiveness.
I think I'm finally beginning to understand why some translations of the Bible use the word "long suffering" in place of patience.