Ask and You Shall Receive…But Maybe Not How You Expected

Before I had children, I remember my mom saying to me that she didn’t think I had enough patience to have kids. While at the time, I thought this was a criticism and I was offended by it, I later realized it was so much more.

What my mom was trying to say was that my lifestyle at the time was very much one of “I want something, I get it” – somewhat selfish and impulsive. I was making a good salary, had a nice home, and really didn’t want for anything. In short, I wasn’t accustomed to waiting for anything I wanted. And when I had to wait, watch out!

However, my “I have a solution for every problem” self decided that if my mom thought I didn’t have enough patience, all I had to do was pray for more. Easy, right? 

We all know the saying, “Ask and you shall receive.” Being like most people, I thought I’d magically wake up one morning and BAM!  I’d be a patient person.


What happened was much different. Instead of gaining the patience superpower, I was given oodles and oodles of trials that would test what little patience I had. What kind of trials? Oh, things like: 

  • Difficult colleagues at work who would make simple project tasks look like rebuilding Rome
  • Traffic jams that threatened to make me late for work on a nearly daily basis
  • Long lines at the grocery store exacerbating a task I already didn’t enjoy
  • Being put on hold forever when I would call customer service

To top things off, I was given a child who was diagnosed with mild AD/HD – talk about needing patience!

So instead of gaining a dose of patience, I got a heap of opportunities to LEARN to be patient. (Does the saying, “Be careful what you pray for come to mind about now?)

Many people, moms especially, wish they had more patience. But here’s the rub. Asking for more patience is only going to bring you more challenges in which you will need to be patient. When you plant a seed, you can’t expect it to grow into a fruit- bearing tree overnight. It takes lots of sun, water, fertilizer, and a bit of loving care, for it to blossom into its full state.

Or – another example – wishing you were 20 pounds thinner or ripped like a professional athlete, will not make it happen. You will need to make changes like eating better, exercising more – being committed before either of these wishes will come true.

To strengthen your patience muscle, here are a few tips that have helped me. Remember, it’s all about the baby steps. Every day, decide to take one step forward.

1.  When you are in a situation that is threatening to turn you into Attila the Hun, take a attila the hunmoment, hold your tongue, and breathe. Not tiny little breaths but deep, long breaths – even one will help. Think about the person who will be the recipient of your weak patience muscle and adjust your actions. 

For example, before you scream at the rep on the other end of the phone for charging you a late fee AGAIN, remember that he or she is just the messenger and quite frankly has the power to erase that fee or make sure you are charged every month for the rest of your life. Kill them with kindness, make them laugh, and see what kind of results you get. 

  1. If you do lash out and evilness escapes your mouth, apologize. QUICKLY. Especially if your tongue lashing was aimed at your children or loved ones. We all have bad days. We all lose our temper. Don’t beat yourself up and feel guilty. (Please! No guilt!) A simple, “I was wrong and I’m sorry.” Goes a long way.

3. Instead of asking for MORE patience, take advantage of the patience you have and start using it. Just like that little seedling you planted, your weak patience muscle needs love and care to get stronger. Use every opportunity placed before you to test the muscle and push it past its breaking point to make it stronger.

This is no different than if you were to work with a personal trainer. As soon as you accomplish one goal, he/she pushes you toward the next. Otherwise, your muscles will get weak or get used to what you’re doing and remain in the same state.

Trust me, Rome was not built in a day and as a parent your patience will be tested every minute of every day. I want to encourage you  to be champion patience muscle moms and dads and before you know it, you’ll be a shadow of that impatient, frazzled parent in no time.

Jen’s Gem: Embrace opportunities to work out weak parenting muscles.


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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2011-2024