Patience is the lesson learned through many of life’s complications, trivial and more serious! It’s the realization that you’ll have to tolerate what at the time and at the moment seems intolerable, even if only for a short time! Patience is a fruit of our Spirit, found within us naturally, but surely requiring lessons and purposeful attention to developing! Patience convinces us to remain calm, to stay peaceful within, to consider situations purposefully, and to not react without first thinking things through. Patience accepts flaws and tolerates the imperfections of human nature and life itself!
I try not to measure my patience or lack there of! As soon as I crow about my patience through something, it will invariably bring on a challenge or test which causes me to eat my words! I think God teaches us in the middle of our trials so that we know it’s not of our doing, but His! And if I am ever actually sufficient in patience, I will surely know that it is God’s handiwork in my life. It surely wouldn’t be all my doing! I still struggle, daily!
This past week, while finishing up the pruning and trimming of some trees in my yard, trying to clean up after Winter in preparation for Summer ahead, I was attacked by tiny black ants biting my feet! I was actually doing the last few things on my list early one morning when it occurred. The attack was annoying at the moment, but I brushed the pesky ants off and continued my work until I could get out of their reach. It wasn’t until later on, and especially in days to come, that I paid attention to the effects of their foray with my feet! The bites I received became highly sensitive to itching whenever they were touched or even brushed against. And if I actually forgot about the bites while half-asleep, scratching my feet mindlessly, I set off a terrible itch almost instantly! It was so annoying to suffer the side effect from that one brief moment in the yard for several days afterward. Even anti-itch creams took their sweet time to work on the seven or so inflamed spots on both my feet!
Finally, the itching passed, after a few tedious days. But the whole event felt like the gift that keeps on giving for that time! That is the hard thing about being patient, it requires strength and perseverance over a set of circumstances which usually are not all that pleasant or fun, much less something we’ve chosen! Much like the bites on my feet, the event itself was not much fun, and the continued itch was surely unpleasant! Patience was required if I didn’t want to drive myself insane!
Now, not all tests of our patience are so trivial. Not all tests are so short-term or so inconsequential to our lives overall. We often have to endure lengthy ordeals which eat away at our ability to stay the course! Emotions are usually the reason for waning patience! We just hate to endure what we don’t want to. And any discomfort, any pain, anything through which we process negative emotions, are the attacks we wage on our own fledgling patience muscles! We fight a barrage of emotions and feelings which encourage us to abandon our budding patience in favor of having what we what now, rather than enduring what we find difficult or even impossible! Patience is always a test of our will, our emotions giving way against our determination to persist with maturity against our own emotions! To be able to control one’s own emotions is a sign of maturity, as then one has more dominion over self! The more emotionally immature we are, the more reactionary we tend to be and thus, unable to stand strong against whatever our emotions dictate. Comfort, ease, need, desire, fear, insecurity and many other internal drives play upon our emotions. We hate to be uncomfortable, to feel deprived, to have unmet needs, or to suffer for any length of time! And so, we settle for less, choose an alternative, or give up on what we’re pursuing rather than patiently forge ahead.
Patience it is said is a virtue. It can protect us from emotional contests, willful battles, and serious mistakes which take us off course. Patience leads to more civility amongst people and prospers respect for others. It is only through our patience that we learn to be humble, to tolerate others, and to wait for what is truly meant to be ours. Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit because it enables us to deal with one another with more loving kindness and better reason, as each of us is unique and independent, it gives us more measured concern. It is required in life to keep us from falling into bad habits, from making hasty erroneous judgments, and from reacting without forethought. And most of all, patience teaches us the art of self-control, self-discipline, and self-acceptance, as our flaws and failings are a natural part of the human experience. And the more patient we are with our own flaws, the more patient we are with those of others!