“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” ~ Barbara Johnson
There are three words we must endeavor to keep and do while we run this race called life. These three words are very similar, yet very different. Different in approach, yet intricately connected, meaning when you do one of these words, you invariably are doing the other two. These three words are PATIENCE, PERSISTENCE, and PERSPIRATION!
Today I want to talk about the first word, patience. Ahhh, yes, that dreaded word we have heard so many times over the years...patience. How many times have you heard in your life time, ‘Patience is a virtue’? “Just hang on!” “Be Patient!” or better yet, "All good things come to those who wait!" In our instant gratification push button happy society, this dreaded eight letter word is almost hated as much as the four letter word, w-o-r-k but that’s another blog for a another day. The scripture tells us that in our patience we will possess our souls. As a noun patience means “good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence “ and as a adjective the word patient means “enduring without protest or complaint”. Either way, when we are patient, we are waiting and in this culture, if we are waiting or have to wait, well, that’s when we become impatient. The words ‘no’ or ‘wait’ in this time and age are almost fighting words. We want what we want, and we want it NOW. No wonder the newest label over this generation is called ‘the entitlement generation’. Fresh out of college, many young men and women expect to be granted all the rewards and bounty a hard working lifelong employee has earned after twenty-five years of working. It seems the more life loses its spiritual meaning and focus, the more hasty people become in capturing the most material possessions in their lifetime. It’s a race to fulfill the cliche, ‘the one with the most toys in the end, wins’.
This word patience is so contrary to our nature. We hear the word spoken, and we cringe when we hear it. We wince at the sound of the word because somewhere along the way we have learned to believe to be patient means to suffer. The word patience is almost synonymous with the word, ‘NO’. Yet, this is so very far from the truth. Saint Augustine said, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” How many times in our lifetime have we suffered because we moved too fast? How many times, after a hastily made decision, have we said to ourselves, ‘If only I had taken my time before I made the decision?’ How many times has our impatience engulfed our perceptions and made it impossible to ‘see’ beyond the moment? Questions like these can be asked over and over, because all of us have, from time to time, suffered from being impatient and making ‘dumb decisions’. And why were they dumb? Because we didn’t wait. We didn’t want to endure the pain of having to wait. Then, in the end, if we would have patiently waited before jumping into the situation, we would not be in ‘the shape’ we are in. Many times I have witnessed this with those endeavor to try to ‘get back in shape’. Rather than patiently step into an exercise program, they hastily jump into the foray with all the vigor of an eighteen year old. After having made up their minds to ‘do this’, they zealously lace up their shoes and go out for a ten mile run. This excitement pushes them past any wisdom that might come if they would just slow down, and hurls them into the usual ‘crash and burn’ cycle of impatience. Their new founded exuberance comes crashing down the next day when their feet hit the floor as the wisdom of their bodies tells their impatient minds of what a foolish choice they had made.
When one reads the scriptures, there is another word that is always coupled with patience and that word is FAITH. “Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things - with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope.” Corazon Aquino We must see that being patient is not suffering at all, but it is IN these moments of patience we are able to gain the necessary understanding one must gain to make a right decision. Benjamin Franklin said it this way, “He that can have patience can have what he will”. Many of us don’t have today what we truly had wanted yesterday because our impatience blinded us from seeing the bigger picture. There is wisdom in patience. As a marathon runner, when I commit to train for a marathon, I have learned to follow a training plan. Usually these plans range from sixteen to twenty week periods that outline a daily course of action. The training plan is designed to incrementally build my body up to endure the hardness of a full twenty-six mile run. The wisdom is IN the training plan. Why are there no long runs at the beginning of the plan? Because, wisdom says my body is not ready to endure such an undertaking. I have to trust the plan to this and this takes patience. After nine marathons, and one fifty mile ultra marathon, I have learned...if...IF...I trust the inherent wisdom of the plan, I will achieve the results I truly desire to achieve. But if I get restless, hasty, and impatient, well, to put it rather bluntly, I will fail.
Saint Francis De Sales said, “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew.” Today is a day to step back and take a good look at your life. Take a deep breath. Be honest. Scrutinize yourself and where you are right now. Why have things gone astray? Where is your happiness? Where are your dreams? Have you become hasty and stepped out of your life’s training plan? Has the rat race got you running on the wheel of impatience? Today is a new day...a new dawn. Its time to step out of the pace that the rat race has set, and run this race with the patience of your own pace...you know the pace...the pace you were meant to run so that you may obtain!