The Elegance Files, No. 15: Your Mama Knew What She Was Doing

Monday, January 23, 2017


There are some things that I learned on my own, as I've grown up - things like how to blend eyeshadow, and the way I want to dress, and the power of coconut oil hair masks - but there are somethings I learned that I couldn't have learned from anyone other than my Momma. They are a part of who she is, the sort of thing she teaches by example rather than by lecture.

The origin of this series The Elegance Files was to explore the tips and tricks my Momma taught me - today I want to get specifically into one of the most important things I learned from my mother:

Patience.
How is patience elegant?

Well, look at the definition of patience: it is "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset." Think about that. It doesn't just mean the ability to wait for long periods of time, it means restraining those impulsive urges like anger, stress, or worry that tend to spring up on us in difficult moments. It doesn't mean not having those emotions: it means being trained to control them.

I'm going to be upfront and acknowledge that this is counter-cultural. "Tap into your emotions" is something we're told to do on a daily basis. "Listen to/follow your heart." "I've suppressed what I've felt for so long, but now at last I'm learning to embrace it."

And I'm not here to tell you to ignore what you feel called to do, or to suppress you feelings; "it seems to me if there is a bad taste in your mouth, you spit it out: you don't keep swallowing it back down." However, there's a leveling point, and way too often I see people ignoring it. The danger in becoming too married to your feelings is that they're constantly changing. What you feel so passionately today, in a few weeks will be at the back of your mind, something else taking the foreground. Even in a matter of minutes, feelings morph. The problem with the notion of following your heart is that your heart is subject to mood swings.

But patience: when we learn to withhold our gut-reactions for a moment; to consider before responding, we begin to find a true gracefulness of character.

I tend to be emotion-driven. When something comes up that I'm not expecting, I'll admit, I get stressed and upset about the ramifications caused by that change. It's easy to get caught in the moment and forget to look at the bigger picture; to be stressed out by little things that ultimately don't matter, but seem so big at the time. It's natural to be upset when things don't go our way - but just because it's what's natural doesn't mean it's what's right.

My mother has what we lovingly call "a long fuse". It truly takes a lot to make her upset. And as a result, instead of flying off the handle when something goes wrong, she just takes it in stride, focusing instead on trusting in the providence of God, instead of allowing her human fears to make her react rashly. It's not a matter of allowing herself to be downtrodden, or boxing herself up: it's a matter of choosing your battles. Is this the hill you want to die on? Not everything is worth your anxiety.

She is patient, and as a result, she is elegant.

That's the kind of patience I want to learn.

Do you struggle with patience? Let's struggle together.
(The world needs a lot more patient, elegant women anyway.)

4 comments

  1. Girl, I needed to read this today.

    I am definitely more like you when it comes to patience, I rely way to heavily on my feelings to guide me instead of the Lord. For a month I've been sick with mono and it is causing me to basically put my life on hold...I know that the Lord wants me to be patient and 'be still' but that can be so hard....like you said: "not everything is worth your anxiety'.

    I know in time I will get better, but as of now, I am just trusting in Jesus and waiting.

    Thanks for writing this! I love your blog so much :)

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    Replies
    1. So glad you resonated with this post, girl. We're on this journey of patience together. <3

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  2. Right on.

    Do I see an Amazing Grace quote in there?

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