Joyfully Patient By Betsy Barnes

My daughter, Betsy, a pastor's wife and mother of three, enjoys blogging for close friends and family. Her writing is insightful and uplifting, so, with her permission, I will publish her posts from time to time. You can read them all under Betsy Barnes on the left side of this page.

Patient. According to Webster it means not easily made angry; calm; not hasty. Being patient or having patience means the quality of enduring with calmness; quiet perseverance.


Patience is not one of my virtues. I try to be patient. Sometimes. Not nearly as often as I should, though. Impatience grips its tentacles around my chest and seems to pull at the very heart of me. This is why I never tarried long with my lessons in sewing. Or embroidering. Or art of any kind. I'd rather be doing countless other things. Like reading. But even in reading, a seemingly harmless and maybe even beneficial hobby, I'm impatient. Just ask my husband or my mom. They'll tell you how I stay up too late finishing a book. As a kid it was pretty harmless as my books were short and I had very few important responsibilities to handle the next day. But now my books are often 400-500 pages long and I have 3 very important responsibilities to handle every day. They are early birds, so sleeping late isn't an option!

My impatience is carried into all aspects of my life. Moving into a new house (closing day couldn't come fast enough), getting new shelves built and put up, pictures hung, paint on the walls (I haven't even unpacked all of the boxes yet!), waiting for my kids to decide what snack they want (does it really take 10 minutes to decide between pudding and apples?). When I feel the tentacles reach for my chest I try to take deep breaths and remind myself not to use the sharp side of my tongue when I speak. I'm embarrassed to admit that the deep breathing doesn't always work-- I'm especially embarrassed when I remember this:

Proverbs 14:29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

There's that word 'hasty' again. Anytime I hear hasty I think of Ents from the Lord of the Rings (yes, I'm a LOTR geek). Those of you who are not lucky enough to have read the novels or to have seen the movies might not know what the Ents are. They are talking trees. But they talk very slowly and make decisions very slowly. I don't mean they talk slowly as in with a Texas drawl... I can appreciate a good, drawn out howdy. I mean that it takes them a long time to say anything. It took them several hours to simply greet each other with a proper Ent “Good mornin', y'all”. The young hobbits that found them were, as the Ent shepherd put it, much too hasty. The hobbits didn't understand the Ents' ways and begged for important decisions and actions to be made immediately. But the Ents understood the importance of being diligent and not doing anything until they had vetted every aspect of the issue. They did eventually enter the war against Sauran and bring down Saruman's tower, but it was not done until they agreed that there was a need to do so. I believe it took them 3 days to make this decision while it took the hobbits mere seconds to decide they were going on the “mission... quest... thing”. They didn't even know what they would be doing, where they were going or for what cause they would be fighting. The war was dangerous but they never stopped to think about the consequences.

Perhaps spending an entire morning to say hello is a bit much, but JRR Tolkien (the author) was making the same point as the author of Proverbs... don't be hasty. What exactly is the problem with being hasty? Well, the Hebrew word for folly is anoia and means 'want of understanding'. So those of us who tend to be impatient, those of us who are hasty, are actually exalting, or praising, 'want of understanding'. The bottom line: We praise foolishness.

Looking at it in that light makes me completely feel the abundance of foolishness that I daily exhibit. We are often warned about what happens when we pray for patience. So the next time I feel impatience grabbing at me, I'll not pray for patience. Instead, I'll pray that God will help me to no longer exalt folly. I'll pray that I will have joy in remaining calm and patient.

I have a long road ahead of me.


  1. Oops... I remember a lot of late, late nights trying to get to the end of the LOTR trilogy!
    God help us with our hasty spirits... thanks for the excellent entry!!

  2. Thank you Betsy! I needed to be reminded of the instruction in scripture! I find myself hasty way too often. I pray the Lord exhibit His qualities in me and He receive all the glory for it. Lord bless! thanks for the encouragement on this journey!

    Jessica Shaer

  3. I suddenly have the desire to pull the trilogy off my shelves and re-read them. They are great books!

    I'm glad to hear it was encouraging, Jessica. I miss you and your boys!

    Nora loves the picture you picked for this one, Dad. So do I!

  4. I'm glad you approve of the pic... it is one of my favorites.

  5. I couldn't be more proud of the insightful woman you have become. You are a real blessing to me. God has truly blessed us with wonderful children.

  6. Such depth of wisdom and understanding! Thank you for your insight to something that plagues us all. The Hebrew "anoia" stuck out to me simply because it seems similar to "annoy" (I have no idea of the actual pronunciation). I know I get annoyed far too easily at things that are of little consequence - now if I can just remember that annoyance = folly perhaps I can better avoid that stumbling block.



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