Patience is When You Hide Your Impatience
Do you consider yourself to be a patient person?
Patience is one of those attributes that we don't think about acquiring until we are sorely in need of it! We think of patience as waiting, and waiting is a very unpleasant experience, especially when things are not going our way! Our needs are not met, and we don't know when they will be. It could be a day, week, month, or even longer. We are unable to be patient because we just don't know how long it will be!
When things are going well, we feel that time is on our side. We enjoy beautiful experiences and want them to last forever. We sing the praises of a just God that we have been richly blessed because we have our needs met in abundance. Then when bad things happen, we think that we are being punished, that God is against us, and that life is unfair!
Fortunately, our myopic point of view simply needs some adjustment, and sooner or later, we come to realize that life is good, and that bad things happen to good people. The purpose of this article is to help us understand what patience is, how we can exercise and strengthen it in our daily lives, and how doing so prepares us for the crises that will inevitably come.
"...we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience, and experience, hope..."
What is patience?
According to The Guide to the Scriptures*, patience is "Calm endurance; the ability to endure affliction, insult, or injury without complaint or retaliation." This definition indicates that patience is responding to difficulty by enduring calmly. We are not just waiting (tapping our toes or fingers and watching the clock), we are choosing to respond in a positive manner. For this to be possible, we need a generous helping of faith and hope that everything will work out for the best, that other people are just as important as we are, and that it is possible to come out ahead, even though, at the moment, we may feel that we are lagging behind.
Let us look at some areas of life where this type of endurance in needed, even desired. Recognizing these times for what they are: namely, life circumstances where things may not necessarily go as we want, we can make the choice to exercise patience and increase our ability to be prepared when the real crises come. The following is a list of circumstances where we can exercise our patience:
- Teaching children
- Suffering from Illnesses, injuries, or disabilities
- Overcoming individual weaknesses and imperfections
- Establishing and maintaining relationships with others
- Experiencing the affects of aging
These are discussed in the paragraphs below.
The family is life's great schoolhouse for human development
As parents, we are primarily responsible for the teaching and training of our children. When they are infants, they are totally dependent upon us for their physical comfort, protection, nourishment, and love. We need patience as we attend to these needs since they may come at inconvenient times and we don't always know what they are. Working through the difficulty of figuring out the needs, and then meeting them in a calm and orderly manner builds our muscles of patience as schedules and routines are established. The bonds of trust we establish will last a lifetime.
Children grow rapidly. As they get to be toddlers, they want to move about, touch and taste everything, climb, and explore. Using a calm tone of voice as we set boundaries and teach them about their world reinforces our feelings of love for them. The more we teach in this manner, the more they are able to understand and function appropriately. We do not have to raise our voice or speak harshly when they do things they shouldn't, but give consistent warnings, get down and speak to them on their level face to face, and explain what needs to be done instead.
Once children are involved in school and have friends outside the home, we teach them appropriate behavior when in the presence of others. Children fight and quarrel one with another, whether friends or siblings. Our ability to calmly teach them appropriate behavior is paramount to them feeling our love and having a sense of belonging. We preserve their feelings of self-worth as we discipline in such a way that they are successful in their choices.
We teach them to be kind, share their belongings, and resolve conflict peaceably rather than yelling at and hitting each other. During the teenage years, the patience we use in helping our children spread their wings of independence determines the quality of our relationships with them.
They need to be taught those skills that will enable them to be successful when they are no longer living with us. Allowing them to make mistakes as they practice these skills while under our supervision keeps the consequences manageable and out of public scrutiny. Dignity and self-respect are maintained when we teach with patience.
Suffering from Illnesses, Injuries, and Disabilities
Illnesses, injuries, and disabilities come when we least expect
Some are visible, requiring special equipment and procedures. Others are within ourselves and although we may frequent therapist and doctor's offices for treatment, we and our family suffer in silence, keeping the difficulty that we face away from the knowledge of others.
Additional time and financial resources are required when a family member is ill, injured, or suffering with a disability. When the person is a member or our family, we may have to take time off of work or call upon others to assist. Extra duties include, but are not limited to:
- Purchasing and administering medication
- Transportation to and from appointments and therapy
- Special diets, cooking, and/or eating equipment
- Time for scheduling, phone calling, and corresponding with care givers
- Working with care givers to plan and deliberate treatment options
- Hospitalization, if needed, and referral to specialists
- Assistance with personal care, mobility, and dressing
- Giving extra love and attention
Each of these activities requires calm endurance. Care givers must be careful not to neglect their own needs while caring for their loved one. Doing so leaves their needs unmet, and leads to the possibility of neglect and abuse. Accessing community resources is vital to avoid experiencing burnout. Getting connected with a support group is also helpful. When our own needs are met, we are able to be patient and kind with our loved one.
Overcoming Individual Weaknesses and Imperfections
Having patience with yourself is the most difficult of all
We know ourselves so intimately, that we are well aware of our mistakes and shortcomings. We know the things we should have done and didn't do, as well as the things we have said that were better left unsaid. Having patience with ourselves has a lot to do with perspective.
First and foremost, we need a realization of who we really are. As children of God, we have all of the attributes of our Heavenly Father. He has all patience. Patience is personified through our Savior, Jesus Christ. When we look at the New Testament, we see him gathering the little children about him and blessing them, healing the sick, and pausing to acknowledge those who were considered to be undesirables.
When we look at ourselves, we often see ourselves as the rebellious children of Israel found in the Old Testament. We think that God is displeased with us due to our hypocritical natures and our hard hearts. We see his anger as people were destroyed right and left due to their disobedience, selfishness, and corruption. We don't see mercy and kindness.
If we stop and look at what God did for them as they wandered in the wilderness, however, we see that he was merciful and kind. He fed them with manna so that they did not die of starvation. He gave them meat when they desired meat. He provided them with laws and guidelines that would point them in the direction to come back to him. He gave them leaders to counsel and direct them. It was when they turned away from him and worshiped other gods that his anger was kindled against them.
In reality, God, as our father, sees us as we see our little children, innocent and full of potential. He does everything he can to help us and is saddened when we turn away from him. Always, he is there waiting for us to come back. Now that is patience in its purest form!
Establishing and Maintaining Relationships with Others
Our ability to establish and maintain relationships with others successfully determines the quality of our work environment, our friendships, and our families
Each person has their own distinct personality, family culture, strengths and weaknesses, and communication style. Any time we interact with another, all of these things come into play for that single moment. In some cases, this process is cumbersome and annoying. In others, it is enjoyable.
Successful relationships don't just happen. There will be differences of opinion and conflicting desires. It is necessary to allow time for these things to be resolved before people can go forward with their desired goals. This is especially true in families and workplaces. Unresolved differences happen whenever people work together, whether two people or twenty. Patiently listening, problem solving through issues, collaborating, and compromising keep relationships viable and progress toward goals possible.
"In your patience, possess ye your souls."
Patience in relationships applies just as much in a romantic setting as it does in the workplace. People who are familiar with each other intimately know strengths and weaknesses that others may not.
Patiently overlooking weaknesses when they become problematic while emphasizing strengths keeps feelings of love strong and relationships unified. Deepening the relationship and looking forward to long-term commitment brings new challenges and responsibilities.
It is in the marriage relationship where we experience our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows. We experience life at its best and at its worst. We need a great deal of perseverance, a deep level of commitment, and an understanding of the eternal significance of marriage to weather the storms that will come our way. Our muscles of patience will be exercised frequently as we learn and grow together through life's difficulties.
Experiencing the Affects of Aging
Windshield Wipers - a poem about patience
Back and forth... back and forth...
The rain is coming down in buckets!
I need to get a new mop bucket. Mine is wearing out.
Tommy’s jeans are wearing out. I wonder if there is a sale on at the department store.
I need to stop at the grocery store for some things. I don’t have my list with me, though.
Back and forth... back and forth...
I had best be careful, the road is getting slippery.
My boots need new soles on them, or I will slip on the ice. I will bring them on my way tomorrow.
I invited the neighbors over for dinner tomorrow. I had better stop for some milk, bread, and cheese.
I wonder if they have their holiday cheese assortments out yet.
Back and forth... back and forth...
There’s some lights up ahead at the side of the road. They must have stopped because of the rain.
Rainy days are so depressing to me. The sky is black and I can’t see very well.
It’s getting hard for my mother to see. We need to get her some new glasses
I can take her in when I get my glasses adjusted.
Back and forth... back and forth....
The rain is turning to snow! I had better slow down
The doctor told my husband he needs to slow down. He is having problems with high blood pressure due to stress
This is supposed to be the most stressful time of life, teenagers, work, aging parents, debt payments.
Oh, Lord, I am sorry I forgot to petition thee today!
Poem by Denise W. Anderson
Copyright by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved.
We all age, it is inevitable
It happens to everyone, and no matter what we do, our bodies will change over time. We find that our eyes see differently, our taste buds give new sensations, and our ability to feel different textures declines. Aging is a natural part of life.
Time seems to pass more rapidly as we get older. In reality, the proportions change. One year in the life of a ten-year old child is one-tenth of their life. At the age of seventy, one year is a mere one-seventieth! No wonder young marrieds start to look like children, and suddenly we become older than all of our service providers!
Grocery store shelves no longer carry the brands we like - or is it just that the packaging is different! Cars aren't as reliable as they once were, and the print on the page seems to keep getting smaller! It seems that we just start getting to know someone, and then we hear about their funeral in the paper!
Life is a series of tests. During the process of learning, we pass one test after another, only to find that we face yet another. The last one we have to pass is the test of endurance. Since patience is "calm endurance," our ability to be patient with the aging process is paramount to successfully finishing our lives. Although we are the same person inside, our bodies must soon lie down in the grave, and we will meet our Maker.
The time we spend with our families and loved ones helps us to endure. As we gather them around us and share our wisdom and kindness, we are wrapping ourselves in a blanket of warmth. That security will carry us through the difficult moments when our memories fail and our abilities just don't seem to do what we need them to do.
Patience is required as we gradually lose the ability to care for others. Eventually, we find that we must depend on those who once were in our arms. We may even get to the point that we don't recognize them when they come to visit, or that they can't seem to please us, no matter how hard they try!
Then, when the time comes that we step out of this world and into the next, we will suddenly realize that we had patience all along! All we had to do was simply hide our impatience, calmly enduring any situation that happens to come our way.
*Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Follow the links to the on-line version.
© 2013 Denise W Anderson