Have you ever heard said, “You better be careful what you wish or pray for”? I am a man of faith and years ago, well, I prayed for patience. Since then, I have been finding situation after situation, circumstance after circumstance occurs or persist where my patience was or is tested. Perhaps you can relate. 😊 I believe the key is not whether these happen but rather how I respond. There is no doubt that those moments and conditions were learning and growth opportunities. The question is, did I become more patient because of them? A good question for both you and me to ask ourselves.
What is your answer? Mine is, yes but not as much as I could have. Let me explain why I say that. If you “Google” the word patience you will find this definition:
– the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
“you can find bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross”
Similar: forbearance; tolerance; restraint; self-restraint; resignation
Since I like things to go my way, I don’t always (if often) completely reach this standard of behavior. Based on what I observe from others, the same could be said for most of us. I find that a general tendency is to either become impatient immediately and express angry or upset emotion or to slowly lose patience and revert to natural behavior which is most often a negative emotional reaction.
Our autonomic nervous system is where our emotions come from. We don’t control our emotions directly. We can try to contain them, hide them, deny them, or whatever other action or mechanism we determine to use to not allow our emotions to be visible to others, or to affect our actions, but we can’t directly control the emotions themselves. When I get angry, I am angry. I can attempt to manage that anger, but I can’t directly prevent it from occurring when it begins to emote. When happy, I am happy in the same way.
Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) is like a computer. The software loaded into the computer determines what it will do and how it will calculate the input. If you load bad software (often referred to as garbage) into a computer, you often get undesirable results that need to be corrected. Our ANS is no different than the computer (so to speak). If you are constantly thinking about self, self, self, and no one else, it will be exceedingly difficult to be a patient person. An effective counter to this is to take in positive information, listen to uplifting music and talks, watch inspiring movies, and read mentally healthy books. It is also important to socialize and do business with positive thinking and acting people.
Sometimes, even good things, like our passion get leveraged in an adverse way and get in the way of being patient. Passion is defined as any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, such as love or hate.
– a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.
The words powerful, compelling, and extravagant could spell “trouble” if not properly channeled and could smash through the barrier of the management layer of unhealthy emotion to unleash toxic effects on circumstances or conditions. Momentum is a powerful force and that pertains to both negative and positive momentum. Negative momentum in a patience-trying situation could result in potentially devastating results. Ever been there? I have! It can be life-changing.
On the other hand, this passion could also be a passion for patience. What does that mean? Well, it could mean different things to different people, but a passion is a passion, and certainly an advantage in the process of developing patience. Yes, it is a process. My patience has increased through the years. It didn’t just happen in the blink of an eye. Perhaps yours did. Hallelujah if that is true! I want to be a patient person. I know it removes a great deal of stress out of life, thus enabling us to live healthier.
Instead of getting “annoyed” when someone is late, I now try to do something to occupy the time spent waiting. I may use my phone to send a text to a friend to say hello or send a word of encouragement. Or I may read a devotional, a sports article, or a piece of financial news. I also sometimes tell myself that it isn’t the end of the world because of the person’s tardiness or think of times I was late and what caused it. That humbles me and drains some of the impatience out of my nervous system. I may think about the word forgiveness and the fact that Jesus told his disciples to “forgive seven times seven times”.
Forgiveness applies to us also. I sometimes get frustrated when trying to drop a few pounds or complete an in-home project. Well, these things don’t always happen overnight. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and according to scripture, God took six days to create the earth. If God is who he claims to be, six days is an exceptionally long time. Patience truly is a virtue and a ” lifetime” goal worth pursuing. It will almost certainly be a good long ride, but a ride worth taking. By doing so, our “life span” may also increase in stride with our patience.