What is patience?
The ability to wait for a bus without giving up and going home.
The skill of walking slowing with a toddler and being amazed, with her, at every stick, stone and flower.
Telephoning a friend and listening to his troubles, when he never returned your last call and forgot your birthday.
Patience can be small and easy, or deep and difficult.
A dictionary definition says it is “The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”
Look it up on Wikipedia and the explanation includes:
“Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties.”
Sometimes don’t you just hate Patience?! I think of myself as quite a patient person, and then I read this and feel ashamed for even thinking that! Damn you Patience, for making me feel bad about myself…
Patience is sometimes easier over a distance. If the friend or family member you had an argument with is overseas, it might be easier to wait for their postcard, or their call, with distance you are able to cool off, see things as they really are, forgive.
But equally distance can try your patience. Your partner’s away and all you want is a word of tenderness, a hug… You don’t want to wait. A text comes, or a phone message, and you’re forced to interpret its true meaning. You feel annoyed, angry, frustrated. Argh – patience, where are you?!
Wikipedia also says that “Patience is the level of endurance one’s character can take before negativity….” Antonyms include hastiness and impetuousness.
How often have we hastily judged another, rather than waiting patiently to see how a situation plays out, or to allow them to explain themselves better, or to give ourselves time to step into their shoes and see the situation from their perspective?
How often have we impetuously tooted our horn at another driver, snapped at our partner or done something selfish as a result of impatience?
If we sow seeds in our garden we wait, we water, we watch. We don’t dig it up the next day and stamp on it, or pour kerosene on it and set it alight because it didn’t grow.
Things that require our patience often require our nurturing too. Be it a big idea, saving for a holiday, or a relationship.
“Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.” George Jackson (1941 – 1971)
“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.” Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)