What You Need is Patience

One of the predominant questions I get asked by well-meaning people who desire greater transformation is, “How long does it take to get free?”

Those who ask this are working through a battle they are trying to overcome, but they feel as though progress is taking forever. Depression often sets in. Many long for the future to get better, but they are up against the same struggles that have been around for some time. 

That question brings me back to a time where I was battling debilitating anxiety, obsessive thoughts, panic attacks and relational phobias. If ten was the worst, I was at a nine or ten every day for a long time. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, I was drowning. 

I sought out for help everywhere I could. Talking to friends, mentors, counselors while devouring books and resources, I dove into any source of help I could find. Now keep in mind, this was during the early 2000s. There were not a lot of available resources online that addressed these mental health subjects. No one in the church was talking about anxiety like I was facing. OCD was only seen as battles that “clean freaks” had. 

On top of all this, I was a pastor at the time. The stigma and shame for having these battles was intense. Back then, I felt so overwhelmingly alone in a sea of mental and emotional storms. It seemed almost impossible to possess internal peace. 

I slowly began to get understanding on what I was up against and how to walk free. I positioned myself to be as teachable as possible, so I could gain all the insight and tools I could to experience freedom. But I bumped up against a constant discouragement of feeling I was continually looping in the same struggles with no sight of major progress. 

The Pivotal Moment

I remember one particular day very clearly when I was headed to a social gathering. I was overwhelmed with how many mental and emotional spider webs I was trying to clear out. Discouragement and chronic symptoms of depression were rising. I found I was getting angry with myself, while being tempted to get angry with God. “When’s this going to end? When’s the anxiety going to break? When am I going to get free? When are things going to get better? I mean, come on!”

Have you ever felt this way? 

In the midst of this lack of peace, I took a deep breath and cried out to God for clarity. As I’m walking towards the home of this social gathering, I’m having a conversation with myself and God. During this inner dialogue, a thought came to me from 1 John 4:18, which said, “he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

A light bulb went off in my mind. “The reason I am anxious is because love has not been experienced in those areas of my heart.”

This became a major revelation and turning point for my heart transformation. 

A Love Issue

My problem was not an intelligence issue, it was actually a love problem. My symptoms were revealing a love deficit in my life. In fact, the majority of battles we face, reveal the areas where love has not had a deeper work. 

In this moment, I became highly aware of my need to grow in what love meant. All of us have areas in our heart where love has been absent or compromised. It often takes a while to realize it. 

While my symptoms were incredibly frustrating to deal with, I was awakened to the reality that learning to settle in God’s love was a journey, not a light switch. I had some learning to do. I needed to give myself time to learn about love, as well as how to give and receive love with greater freedom. It takes time and there is no way around it. 

Leaning on the Pillars of Love

This led me to understanding two main pillars of love that you and I need to experience on a regular basis. As self-acceptance welcomes you into connection with God, the power of love goes further to empower your transformation. 

These two pillars are the opening traits of love found in 1 Corinthians 13. One is patience, the other is kindness. The power of what love bestows upon our life settle on these two very important blessings of love. 

Kindness is what love gives out. Patience is what love can handle. 

This cannot be skipped over. In that moment where I am dwelling on 1 John 4, I realized that what I needed in that moment was patience. My zealous desire to experience freedom had taken over, to the point that it was overriding the voice of God’s love. Just as we can skip over self-acceptance, the patience of love can be forgotten in the midst of our desire for healing and change. 

Learning Patience

In this moment, it dawned on me how incredibly impatient I was with myself and my journey. The pressure of perfectionism and intense expectation overrode the power of God’s loving patience with my journey.

To regain the power of patience, I spoke a simple statement over my heart which transformed my trajectory forever. It began to align me with God’s love over my journey.

I looked at everything I was battling and firmly said, “It will take as long as it takes.” 

Healing will take as long as it needs to take. 

Transformation will take as long as it needs to take.

This one statement began to release the pressure off my life, of feeling as though I needed to be “better” long ago. The yoke of pressure was being traded for the yoke that Jesus offers, which He says is light. 

When it comes to transformation, there is no pressure from God for you to hurry up and achieve some state of breakthrough. He is more patient than you could ever imagine. Just when you’ve received a cup of His merciful patience, you realize there remains an entire ocean of His patience to experience. 

But I needed to give this to myself. It is one thing to know God is patient, but I needed to receive it. God’s patience does not have its impact if I respond with impatience towards myself. 

Question: Where do you need to pause and embrace the power of loving patience over your journey? 

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