Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (NIV) Ephesians 4:2
As I read Ephesians 4:1-6, the line that sticks out to me is, “bear with one another in love.” I remember a few years back when my son was overwhelmed by everything going on at the time. He was playing a varsity sport and taking a full load of classes with lots of homework. He had had enough. It would have been easy for me to lose patience with him—let him know where he had wasted time, that he just needed to get his work done, and to keep working harder. But that wasn’t what he needed at that time. He needed me to bear with him in love. He needed me to be patient with him, sit with him, and listen to what he was experiencing at that moment. So often that is how God shows patience to us as well. In the middle of our frustration or our bad behavior he bears with us in love and never leaves our side.
Bearing with one another requires patience. It requires taking the time to step into someone else’s shoes to understand their pain and do your best to experience it right along with them. That’s empathy. Empathetic people see another’s point of view and understand their situation. That helps us tolerate and bear with their behavior.
Nobody is born naturally patient. Every parent needs to learn empathy-driven patience over time. We bear with a lot of different kinds of behaviors from our kids, some exasperating or even infuriating. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul describes patience as one of the fruits of the Spirit that grow out of our relationship with Christ. As we grow in our faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit enables us to grow in patience to bear with one another.
Our kids can grow in patience just as they grow in other ways. They learn when we model empathy and patience for them. It also involves that we communicate our expectation of patient behavior and honest conversations when we don’t see them exhibiting it.
Together you can grow in the fruit of patience in both of your lives. Bear with each other in love and share both the struggles and the joys that a journey towards patience can bring.
Want to dig deeper? Check out Family Fire's article Life Skills: Teaching Children Empathy