When was the last time you had to be patient with someone? Our culture isn’t exactly keen on patience . We often become impatient with others when they won’t do the things that we want them to do. Or, they do things in a way that we wouldn’t do them. We have the expectation that others should conform to the way that we want things to be. And when this doesn’t happen, we get impatient with the people around us.
What is patience? I like to start with the dictionary. “Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, difficulty, or annoyance without getting angry or upset.” I don’t know anyone whose life is free of these three. In fact, I can’t recall a single day in my own life when at least one of them didn’t make an appearance.
Being married is a big test on patience. More often than not, the reason my wife and i fight , disagree or quarrel is that one of us, or both of us are not being patient with the other. Both of us want things to happen OUR way & unfortunately in marriage, there ALWAYS has to be a compromise.
I often find that this impatience leads to very miserable times for all involved.
Patience is a virtue and talked about throughout the Bible in the Old and New Testaments. According to 1 Samuel “lack of patience can cause you to miss blessings.” Being patient is a vital part of trusting in God as our life circumstances are not always what we’d prefer.
Acceptance + Compassion = Patience With Others
Patience with another person means that you don’t let your emotions run away with you when they do something that you don’t like. It also means understanding that they can live their life anyway that they want, and you don’t have any control over it. Compromise in marriage though means both spouses should always consider the feelings of their partner first. Once you are in service to your partner, it becomes easier for you to understand that THEY come first and not you and that automatically makes BOTH of you start wanting to make sure the other person is happy
Here are some ways you can practice patience with the people in your life:
See Yourself in Other People – We all do things that are probably irritating to someone else, but most of the time we don’t mean to be irritating. It’s just that everyone has their own quirks and eccentricities and these things can rub others the wrong way.
When you realize you also do things that drive other people crazy, your compassion increases for the person who is driving you crazy, because you see yourself in them.
Flip the Situation Around – What if someone else thought that you should conform yourself to what they want (in fact, someone probably does)? How would that make you feel? Probably not very good, so don’t do it to someone else.
Walk Away For A While – Don’t try to address what is irritating you in the moment. Walk away for a bit, think about it and then address it with the other person if necessary. Also, you may want to think to yourself “how am I participating in this situation?” and do something about that first.
You Don’t Control Anyone Else – Which is why getting all worked up about something they do is usually pretty worthless. If you really need to address something with someone, do that, but don’t dwell all over it.
Not Everything is a Personal Slight – Most likely, whatever this person is doing, is not meant to offend you in any way. In fact, it probably has nothing to do with you. So don’t take it too personally. Give people the benefit of the doubt first
Allowing yourself to really feel the impatience is a major step toward accepting its presence. This is important because, in my experience, I can’t begin to transform a stressful mental state until I accept that I’m caught up in it. So, work on becoming well-acquainted with how impatience feels. Is your mind calm or agitated? Is your body relaxed or tensed? I have yet to experience impatience as pleasant in either my mind or my body. And the realization that it feels unpleasant helps motivate me to try and change the way I respond when I’m faced with “delay, difficulty, or annoyance”—our three friends from the dictionary definition.
I quote a passage from the book, Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana. He said this about the mind:
[Sometime] you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem.
I love this quotation for two reasons. First, I find it reassuring to know that I’m not alone in having a shrieking, gibbering, madhouse on wheels for a mind. Second, Bhante says, “No problem.” I take “no problem” to mean that I can learn to be patient with this “crazy” mind. I can learn not to get upset and angry when unwelcome thoughts and emotions arise, but instead, to calmly accept their presence, knowing that with time the universal law of impermanence will help me out. Conditions will change, and so will my mind.
We can transform impatience into patience. It’s well worth the effort because being patient is a way of treating ourselves with compassion and it also helps us calmly accept things as they are, and that always feels good.
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Will Frank – @AriseInChrist @TheWillFrank