Patience in an up-tempo world – what a contradiction! The technology advances of the 20th century created an expectation for obtaining things NOW. With that, the virtue of patience seems to have fallen by the wayside. Does anyone even remember what it was like to be patient? Remember when you had to wait for the new school year to start to get some new clothes and shoes? Or do you remember waiting until your birthday to get that toy you really wanted? Or best yet, do you remember in the “olden” days when you actually waited until you saved enough money to buy a new car or house?
When it comes to patience, I am probably the guiltiest of all humans at being impatient! There, you have it – I confess! Whew! Of all the virtues, this is the one that eludes me the most. I personally struggled about what to say, regarding this virtue, without coming across as hypocritical. In my head, I know all the right words to say; but in my heart, I fail to live up to them. With that said, I give you the words you need to hear, yet from the perspective of one who has failed to master the virtue. I continue to pray for patience. I can see the Lord gracing me with it in small doses over time. (Apparently, I couldn’t handle it if He gave me all the patience I actually need all at one time)!
Patience is both a virtue and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Patience enables a person to endure elongated suffering with a grateful heart, for the love of God and love of neighbor; all while maintaining one’s composure and self-control. Here’s a perfect example of impatience and patience.
Impatience in Full Swing!
About five years ago, I went for my annual mammogram, and the Radiologist saw an abnormality that he thought needed a biopsy. For the following seven days, I was a basket case, fearing the worst, filled with anxiety and impatience. First, I had to wait for the appointment. Then I had to wait a few days more to get the results. In that seven day period I couldn’t think straight. I lost sleep. I foresaw the worst case scenario as coming true. My impatience had a rippling effect on others. It made me snippy. I said things to others causing hurt feelings. I showed very little love for God and neighbor. Then the biopsy results showed that I was fine.
Fast forward to this past April; I came upon the same scenario. I had to go in for another biopsy, in the same area, because the mammogram showed a change. Yet, this time I was completely different emotionally. (Remember, patience is an emotionally based virtue tied to the cardinal virtue of Fortitude). I had been praying for patience for about a year. This time around, I took everything in stride, and noticed that I had a LOT more trust and faith in God. I knew He was by my side. Therefore, I was able to weather the week with composure and self-control. Thank God, the results showed that once again, I was fine.
Same scenario – two different ways of reacting to it; one with extreme impatience and one graced with sufficient patience to weather the event.
Patience boils down to how much trust and faith you have in God; how much you believe that He is in charge; that it is His will that is accomplished. I tell you that I have yet to master this virtue. Although I made it through the week much more calmly and with less worry, this time around, the “suffering with a grateful heart” part still eludes me. I tried to count my blessings during this most recent experience. I kept telling myself, “God’s will be done.” However, there was always this “but” that followed: “but, You know how badly I deal with adversity, so please let me be okay.”
It is only when I get to that point where I want only what the Lord wants and am willing for Him to deliver it to me His way, in His own time, then and only then will I have mastered the virtue of patience. Until then I keep praying. It’s a journey folks, not a sprint race. Some virtues require a lifetime of work; “but” it all starts with asking for it through prayer.
Why should you embrace the virtue of patience? How can it improve your life? We’ll address the answers to those questions in our next reflection. Don’t miss it!
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