Patience: the tolerance

Poop.  It is what I deal with and clean up daily right now.  It described my attitude pretty well today too.  And it started in the morning… and it started on the floor.

My littest child is potty training at 23 months, after refusing to keep a diaper on.  He loves using the potty, and until today I would have said we are trained except with the pooping, which is still a struggle for him.

He stands in the middle of a room and tells me, “potty, Mommia, no treat.”  And grunts.

This is followed by, “ewe! Icky mess, Mommia.”  Which he is more than willing to let me clean up.

This morning’s ritual went very differently.  He happened to be between pairs of undies when I got a phone call from my good friend.  He didn’t want to get undies on, and I had a long list of things to get done, and a good conversation to have – it seemed harmless in the moment.

“Mommia?” says a timid little voice just inches from me.  Grunt.  “Mommia?”  His face is full of concern, and a startled looked fills his eyes as he looks behind him…

Poop.  On the floor.  He turns to look at it, letting another poop fall behind him.  He looks fearfully at the one in front, takes a step back…  Startled, he bends to look at his foot.  “Mommia!” He screams and keeps stepping back.  Smearing it with each step.

Patience: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset”

The day quickly unraveled from there.  “I can’t find a rag, mom!” “Mom, Josh pooped all over the floor!”  “Please, get me a rag and the carpet cleaner -” “But I CAN’T FIND A RAG” “Josh, please sit on your potty, honey.”  “Mommia, Treat?”  “Mom, I just stepped in it.”  “Mom, Josh didn’t get it in the toilet and there is a huge puddle of pee in the bathroom, and i really need to go – please clean it up!” “Mom, I have poop on my foot.  Can I have a snack?”

This life swirling around me at a dizzying speed.  I am overwhelmed and not overflowing with grace.  Acceptance is a concept my mind struggles to form, as if trying to speak in a foreign language.  Tears form, and my my tone comes out hard and angry.  This is more than I can tollerate!

allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of something that one does not necessarily like or agree with without interference
accept or endure someone or something unpleasant or disliked with forbearance
be capable of continued subjection to without adverse reaction
to endure 

Each child tucked into their bed, carpet cleaner foaming it’s magic, bathroom wiped up… I sigh a sob and collaps on my bed. A glance at the clock reveals it is not even 10am yet.  I am shaken as a symphony of words, “Joshie has to go pottia!” “Pottia, Potty! Mommia?”  filter through two closed doors.  I wait, I breath.  I breath again and hold it this time.

When we decided to potty train we took on a methodology that encourages the art of mentoring the child in his control over his own bodily functions, recognizing that no one but the child has this control, and therefore, we cannot control his/her behavior.  We really liked the tone and the respect of this approach.  In theory.

But now, as I spend the day putting it into practice, I am realizing just how much control I want to take.  And I am struck by the word tolerate used in describing patience. It is the closest word to the rest of the words in the definition of patience – words like: delay, trouble, suffering… the final words being “without getting angry or upset.”

To tolerate.  To not just let go of control, but to allow delay, trouble and suffering. Not simple recognizing where control truly lies, but to accept and endure my lack of control with forbearance. To not only not be in control, but to remain continually subjected to someone else’s control without adverse reaction… Patience.

Today I felt the full weight of my littlest child’s complete control over his body, and my total lack of control.  I felt the cost of not being in control.  It brought me to my knees.  It brought me to tears.

I responded in anger.  Frustration. Defeat.

“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” ~ Revelation3:8

And, here I am.  With so much to confess.  With my attitude today being one of unforgiveness, selfish and intolerant. Fighting hard against my lack of control, irritated by the toll it took.  Looking over the day… remembering Words of life.

You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.”

What if patience is the capacity to accept that I have no control?  The capacity to fully understand that allowing someone else to interrupt my life, my thoughts, my ideas, to change the course of my plans is the only control I actually do have?  Maybe patience is realizing that to become angry, frustrated and to beat my head against the lack, is only foolish?

Patience, to understand that I am powerless, but offered the option to choose surrender.

Patience, in surrendering to choose serving, rather than defeat.

Patience, not denying others the control that is god-given to them.

Patience, placing my importance in its rightful place.

Patience, using what little strength I do have to surrender to not just to others, but to God’s work in me through my lack of control over others.

“But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.” ~Job 5:17


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