One of the biggest things that I seem to struggle with from one week to the next is patience. Unfortunately, those who are closest to me can see it, have felt & heard it more than anyone else. I’ve had a front row seat to life’s lesson that acting or speaking out of impatience never has a good result. It is usually hurtful and at best, almost always makes me look like an arrogant fool.
The Problem of Patience
There are so many ways for a person to be impatient. Purchasing on credit when we can’t immediately afford something because we’d rather not wait for it. Pushing another person to do something when they aren’t ready. Insisting on our will…that things have to go our way. Criticizing another rather than understanding and accepting them.
When I have not exercised patience it’s when I have let loose my tongue and said hurtful things that can never be taken back. It’s when I have allowed anger to take the steering wheel of my behavior, rather than taking the time to cool off and gather perspective. It’s when I have fallen down the hardest & have hurt others the most.
While we can spend all day trying to justify what we said, how we behaved or why we just couldn’t wait for something, the fact remains that a lack of patience creates a bigger problem.
Have you ever dealt with someone’s impatience and thought to yourself, “That guy’s lacking faith & understanding…and his pride is coming out”? Probably not. It’s a lot more likely that people would see the man flexing his temper & think, “That guy’s an ass”.
Lessons from a Saint…and Mother Nature
St. Teresa of Avila taught us, “Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All thing pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”
The Grand Canyon is an example of something tremendous that can be accomplished over time…and can be likened to exercising patience. Over the course of an estimated 17 million years, the meandering Colorado River has carved one of the most beautiful and amazing geological formations out of stone, resulting in a chasm over 6000 feet deep, stretching nearly 280 miles. Over time, water flowing calmly (patiently) along its path has had such an impact. To create such a canyon in a short amount of time would require massively destructive forces (impatience) – the end result of which could not be fully anticipated or controlled in any way.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue”. The complete saying goes like this, “Patience is a virtue, Possess it if you can, Seldom found in woman, Never found in man”. So, if it’s a virtuous quality, why is it so difficult for some of us to have patience at the times when we need it the most? I’ve seen this in myself and others and two factors come up consistently: pride and faith. To clarify that, it’s an excess of pride and a lack of faith. When I have lost patience, I’ve lost faith.
We’ve already established that I am no expert or pro when it comes to exercising patience. The question that remains if one wants to remedy this kind of situation is; “what am I going to do to make this better?” Well, if the problem is too much pride and a shortage of faith, watching TV or going out to cut loose on a Saturday night really isn’t going to help. Reading certain books might be useful but the greatest tool to mend this problem is prayer & strengthening a personal relationship with God. Deep, humble, heartfelt prayer. Asking God for forgiveness, the love & the strength to overcome this fault.
That answer isn’t what some people want to hear. Have a better idea? Share it by leaving a comment, below. In the mean time, please take a moment to consider 4 verses from the Bible that jumped out to me as important regarding patience. As I read these, I could not deny how I have been so wrong in my impatience.
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
“A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Image courtesy of Selbst Gemacht, used under the GNU Free Documentation License & Creative Commons License. Scripture passages are from the New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible.