This may not be true for everyone, but I have decided that God has various lessons for me in each grand season of life which I pass through. Please make no mistake in thinking that I have actually mastered these lessons... I simply recognize ways that He might want to use the issues I struggled through to refine me as a person who greater reflects Him.
Singleness was for learning about my identity... who Christ created me to be, how I define myself
Marriage was/is for learning about unselfishness... how to love someone else's ideas, goals, dreams like my own, how to include (and welcome) my partner in making decisions with me.
Parenthood is for learning patience... hmmm... someone once warned me not to pray for patience because it was one of those prayers that God liked to answer. And, His answer usually involved testing one's patience. As a parent, I now realize that parenthood is designed for those who never want to pray for patience, but need to learn about it anyway.
Patience is putting my child back into bed one more time, with a smile on my face. Patience is making stuffed animals "talk" instead of finishing the pile of dishes in the sink. Patience is allowing 10 minutes to walk to the car instead of the requisite 1 minute. Patience is using a calm voice when I have been disobeyed, when yelling would feel so much more satisfactory. Patience is making playdough animals. Patience is doing puzzles with a 2-year-old. Patience is not feeling frustrated when my child awakens early from her nap. Patience is answering the "Why?" question. Patience is reading one more book, giving one more kiss, singing one more song at bedtime when rushing off for some "me"-time sounds oh so much better.
Patience is a virtue, so I have been told. Perhaps, one day, it will magically materialize in my life. In the meantime, I will do my best to maintain that smile, having a little more grace for those who may not have much patience with me.