But What Is Patience?
When you look up patience in the dictionary, there are a few slight variations on the meaning. And, if you ask different people what they think patience is, I am sure you will get even more. Patience is hard to nail down. As someone who is not naturally patient, I can tell you that I have struggled with the definition for my entire life. As a child, when I was told to be patient, I did what most children do. I was quiet and waited. But it killed me. I would fidget and twitch. I would feel my frustration growing. I told you, I am not naturally patient. These feelings continued for most of my adolescence and some of it has followed me into adulthood.
The struggle has also gotten more complicated because, though I have become pretty good at being silent as I wait, the definition of patience has changed. On a crusade of introspection, I have found that being silent while waiting does not make me patient and it does not feel good. The annoyance is still there, the frustration still builds. And I have come to find that I am just quietly impatient. This has not served me well. I have had a few very serious situations where I had no choice but to be patient. And I wish I could say that I am proud of the way I endured the wait. But I am not.
Patience Is Not Silence
I share this not to bum you out. I just want to be honest, if you are like I was, thinking that patience is the same as silence. It’s not. Patience is so much more. It is the ability to stay calm in times of waiting. It is the ability to control your emotions while things are unstable. It is the ability to trust God’s timing with true faith and keep up hope. You see, just as the seven deadly sins each spiral into each other, so do their counterparts. Your patience affects your hope, your humility, your ability to be kind and so much more.
I think the biggest problem that I have had with impatience is that it so greatly hindered my ability to have hope in God’s plan but also brought out an arrogance in me. I was impatient because I thought that my timing was better than his. I was arrogant enough to believe that I deserved everything I wanted at the exact time I wanted and that if I did not get it then it was a mistake. And I was arrogant enough to think that if my needs were not met when I thought they should be, that God could not repair my brokenness.
There might some of you reading this thinking that I am talking about impatience on luxury items or just things I wanted. But I am not. Patience is tested most when you are waiting for things you need. I have been on that edge. Thinking that what I needed was not going to come in time. I was angrily questioning God’s timing. I share this because you might be facing something similar. You need something and you are trying to wait silently. And it is so easy to say that you need to instead wait patiently. I know. But as I grow older, I have discovered that patience, true patience enables us to harness the other virtues with much more ease and depth.
So I hope this helped. I hope you feel like you are not alone and I can tell you, even if something looks bleak and your patience is wearing thin, God’s timing is better than yours. God will bring you what you need. If he does not, then you did not need it. And looking back I can tell you that silently panicking and letting my emotions have free range did not make the waiting any better. It didn’t help the process move faster. It just made me miserable while I waited. So at the very least, practice true patience so that you are happier in the moment. And I promise to try to take my own advice!
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