There are a few key ways to grow in this essential virtue.
Standing in a line, dealing with a baby’s tantrum, a grumpy colleague or an annoying spouse … we’ve all been there. Every day our patience is put to a test. How can we improve this?
The first person for whom we must show patience is ourselves. If we can’t accept ourselves for who we are, with our tendency toward procrastination, our repeated mistakes, our inadequacies and limitations, we won’t be able to accept others. “How much of aggression directed against others is actually our attempt to settle a score with ourselves?” asks Father Pascal Ide. “All parents get to experience this when their children reflect back the very image of their own shortcomings.”
Pray for patience
Being patient with ourselves is not the same thing as succumbing to overindulgence. It is to enact the will of God, for our Lord himself has a lot of forbearance. To acquire this patience, we need to take the time to open up and be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. We have to say a prayer, especially when we feel tense, irritated, or exhausted. It is in the process of praying that we can be fully at peace with ourselves. It is the loving gaze of God that allows us to kindly and patiently accept ourselves.
The number one enemy of patience
As each one of us knows, when we are not functioning well, our efforts to be patient are undermined. So let us be aware of this and take this into account. All of have been deprived of sleep, subjected to noise and stress, so we must become more aware of how our mood is directly dependent on these aspects of physical state. So we must learn how to take care of ourselves properly. We should try to get enough sleep, be better organized, and reserve some “me time” each day and each week to take a breather, relax, rest, and pray.
Patience can be demanding
Patience demands we do one thing at a time. When children are learning to walk, we encourage them to take one step at a time … and so step by step they learn how to travel across great distances. It is the same for us. Nothing can be instantly achieved, we can never get anything “right away.” And if some progress seems quick and significant, it’s often because it has been quietly prepared in advance, like a seed that falls to the ground and slowly begins to grow.
Being patient demonstrate confidence
At times, being patient is to hope against all hope. Parents with children who have disabilities often provide an enlightening example to us of this. In accepting to walk side by side with their children, refusing to be defeated, they accomplish incredible things in situations where sometimes the most renowned specialists have given up.
Being patient is to forgive “seventy times seven” as God himself has forgiven us. It is to get back up after each fall, each false hope. It is the refusal to get discouraged. When our patience is greatly tested, let us turn to Him who is the source of all love, so He can offer us the treasure of patience, which is what our children need to grow in joy and happiness.