God give me patience

Padre Jonczyk

Someone has reminded me recently of a saying “God give me patience, but please hurry up”.

It sounds like a joke, but is it really so trivial?

Let’s start with a question: what is patience?

Dr Tanveer Hussain quoting Doctor JJ and CM Messina explains patience as “the ability to: endure hardship, difficulty, or inconvenience without being negatively reaction; show calmness, self-control, and willingness to tolerate delay; sit back and wait for an expected outcome without experiencing anxiety, tension, or frustration; let go the need for immediate gratification; display tolerance, compassion, and understanding toward those who are slower in developing maturity or understanding; and feel relaxed, calm, and placid in the face of challenges”.

Patience can be also defined as the ability to tolerate something or restrain yourself from reacting in anger or frustration.

In most religions and spiritual traditions patience is described as a virtue. In the Book of Quran, Allah is with those who have patience (Quran 2:153, 2:249, 8:46, 8:66) and He loves those who are not impatient.(Quran 3:146). In Hindu teaching “Impatience is said to breed anxiety, fear and discouragement; all of which make us a failure. On the other hand, patience transforms us into a confident, decisive and rational being. Impatience can be the root of many predicaments. It may incite us to make hasty decisions, draw wrong assumptions and do the wrong things, ultimately landing us in trouble. ” (quoted from the Hindu Paper).

Both the Old and the New Testament have references to God’s patience towards humanity and principles to live by, such as: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1Cor 13:4-5) or “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. (Gal 5:22-23)

So, with all the sacred literature and advice from all around us, why is it still so difficult to be patient?

Our patience is tested all the time: in a long line for the cashier at the grocery store, or at a drive through for Tim Hortons; driving behind someone going under the speed limit, or waiting at the red light when we are late for work. We get impatient at home and at work, with our children, spouses and colleagues.

How can we become more patient?

Patience is as important as love, respect and communication in our relationships. It is a critical factor in building and maintaining a happy, healthy and successful marriage. You might have noticed how impatience leads to anger and frustration. You might have also noticed how the opposite can be true: patience can fill you and others with a sense of calmness, bringing about a positive atmosphere. 

Patience requires a mindful decision not to get angry when our child is acting up or talking back to us; when our marriage is not exactly as we had hoped it would be; when our career stalls; when we are anxiously waiting for that coveted posting.

Being patient with your spouse will allow you to think before you act and allow your spouse to vent after a stressful day. Being patient with each other will also allow you to have a positive conversation, argue less and understand each other better. Be patient with your children, and you will help them learn to be patient as well.

I encourage you to practice patience every day. It is not easy, but when you make a mistake learn from it and try again. Remember that patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook on life, which eventually leads to success.