There’s More to Patience Than Meets the Eye
How Patience Is Different Than Patience…and the Resulting Fruit
Patience is not always an easy trait to develop.
We’ve been conditioned by our current environment to always be in a state of hurry…
… to quickly move from one task to the next
… to not waste time
… to expect almost instantaneous results in every area of our lives.
How did our ancestors ever survive without a microwave?
And how in the world did we ever get anything accomplished with dial-up internet?😉
Consider what impatience really is… basically wanting to be somewhere else or to be doing something differently.
We work on one task and impatiently think about the next task on the list…wishing we could hurry up and finish this task so we can start the next. It’s a vicious cycle! It causes frustration, loss of focus, and lack of ability to be effective in the moment.
Maybe there are some things in life worth slowing down for…making it worth our effort to develop patience.
…What about that long awaited firstborn child or grandchild?
…Or the dream job that seemed to be out of reach, but by patiently submitting resume after resume, you finally land it?
…Or the delicious meal your ordered that seemed to take forever to reach your table?
Worth the wait? …yes, yes, and yes!
Sometimes anticipation is as good as, or actually better than, the real thing! So slow down and savor the anticipation!
However, please keep in mind that (whether consciously or unconsciously)…
delaying advancement toward a goal … when it’s something that you have complete control over…
…is not patience… that’s procrastination.
waiting to start living a life you love … until the conditions are perfect…
…is not patience… that’s passivity.
waiting to start expecting the best from yourself…
…is not patience… that’s avoidance!
…waiting to start eating healthy … until you have a larger grocery budget …
…is not patience… that’s … dangerous!
Patience is not an excuse for delaying action when there is action that can be taken now!
Three Types of Patience
As I was writing this, I found that some of the examples of patience I wanted to use just didn’t quite fit the “mold”. The patience required to wait in a long, seemingly never-ending checkout line during the holiday season, and the patience required to deal with annoying situations and people, brought to mind two completely different concepts of patience… one dealing with waiting, the other dealing with annoyances.
As I researched a bit more, I discovered that in 2012, Fuller Theological Seminary professor, Sarah A. Schnitker, classified patience into three distinct categories:
- The patience required when facing annoying people (Interpersonal Patience)… There is no “waiting” involved in this category.
- The patience involved in waiting out life’s hardships without frustration or despair (Courageous Patience)…Think cancer patient waiting for their treatment to work.
- The patience required to deal with the daily hassles of life… traffic jams, long checkout lines, computer crashes, etc.
I would even consider adding a fourth category: the patience required to slow down and take your time when performing miscellaneous daily tasks…or in giving the necessary attention to detail on projects that require it…or in persisting through a repetitive, tedious task.
These categories give us a way to mentally compartmentalize the type of patience needed for a particular situation. Maybe you have one type of patience, but lack in the others.
The fruit of patience
Socrates once said, “Patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”
Regardless of the category of patience we need at any particular moment, the possible methods we could use to develop patience are limited only by creativity. (For creative ideas on developing patience, check out The Patience Muscle.)
Although most methods are relatively simple, patience still takes time and effort to develop. Yes, ironically, it takes patience to develop patience!
Hmmmm, I said the methods were simple, not easy!
Take a look at the myriad of benefits that come with patience… it should become evident that the results far outweigh any costs.
- Makes you happier
- Makes you healthier
- Makes you more forgiving
- Reduces stress levels
- Promotes longevity
- Makes you less likely to get angry
- Makes you less likely to experience overwhelm
- Puts you in better control of your emotions
- Puts you in a better position to deal with difficult situations… with ease and poise
- Produces better decision-making
- Helps you see the big picture
- Helps you weigh any pros and cons
- Helps you avoid making hasty decisions
- Makes you less likely to make big mistakes
- Helps you develop understanding, empathy and compassion
- Makes you more understanding of others
- Produces better relationships with others
- Better prepares you to overcome obstacles
- Helps you understand and appreciate the process of growth
- Makes you more likely to reach your goals
I’m sure you could add to this list, but even with this “short” list, you’ll no doubt see the value of any effort required to develop patience.
So give it a go… work on producing some fruit… pretty soon you’ll have a bountiful harvest!