Google defines patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Another way of saying it might be “finding a sense of peace in the midst of inner turmoil…while waiting.”
These days, the pace of life being what it is, patience for most people is not only a virtue but a necessity. If, as they say, time is money, patience can be a very expensive commodity. But what it offers in terms of personal health can be priceless.
People without patience grind their teeth, tie knots in their guts and put a strain on any relationship that qualifies as human. After all, this is the age of entitlement, instant gratification and “Now!” One’s demanding expectations can become a virus that affects one’s important others, even pre-schoolers. The “hurried child” becomes the hurrying adolescent and eventually the harried adult. And there is hardly a fix in sight.
The collapsing of time, the rush of technology and invasions of social media, the marketing of “instant” this and that create tangible pressures on almost everyone. The stresses created by change usually go unnoticed because of the excitement of innovation and the need to adapt – quickly, of course.
So, what does one do to find patience, to tame the tensions inside, these days? Three suggestions:
First, name and accept what is happening, or is not. Translate those drumming fingers into what is going on. Cut some slack for self and others. Awareness and acceptance provide the starting point for dealing with one’s frustrations and/or anxieties.
Second, learn from your feelings what you might teach others. For example, anger rarely solves anything; it only inflames already sensitive nerve endings. Judging others’ motives only complicates a situation until the facts are known. Be hopeful things will work out – and grateful when they do.
Third, get rid of the inner stopwatch. Life happens the way life happens. Control is meant to manage self and the moment. Dealing with life on its terms is not always easy but, ultimately, it is all one can do.
“Lord, give me patience, but give it now” offers a familiar chuckle. But there is wisdom in the asking. What one can laugh about, one can live with. To laugh about one’s own impatience – with self, others, the ever-changing world – is not the worst one can do to find the sensitivity and courage (and that’s usually what it takes) to simply “wait and see.”