I was asked to lead devotions at worship practice last week. The subject was patience.
At first, I thought I had this fruit of the Spirit in the bag. My initial thought towards patience has always been, “I’m good. I’ve got that one down. Now kindness and gentleness, those I need to work on.”
My whole life I have had to be patient. Growing up with a brother who has Down syndrome, you HAVE to be patient. Whether due to stubborn fits, nightly routines or simply because the life pace of an individual with Down syndrome is slower than the average person’s–I have had my fair share of patience.
At least, one form of patience.
Little did I realize as I dug deeper into what it truly means to be patient that I barely touched the surface of exhibiting patience in my daily life.
Let’s not fluff it up. Let’s go to the source: Webster’s Dictionary of 1828.
The word in which patience is derived from is the Latin word ‘patior’ meaning ‘to suffer’.
The definitions don’t get any better:
1. The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from christian submission to the divine will.
2. A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.
3. The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.
4. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.
5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.
6. Sufferance; permission. [Not used.]
I have spoiled myself. I have tricked myself into believing that I have been exhibiting praiseworthy patience when really my suffering lasts for only as long as I can hold my tongue. I always imagined patience in its simplest form: waiting. While that is an element of it, from these definitions, it is clearly not the heart of patience.
Patience is suffering while maintaining a good spirit.
Patience isn’t biting your tongue, it’s keeping your mind content so that biting your tongue isn’t even a consideration.
Patience is seeing wrong and continuing to do right even when another’s wrong may be breaking your heart in two.
Something meant to make you the best that you can be will never be pain free or easy.
Especially during the holiday season, we cannot ignore such a crucial character quality. At this time of year, opportunities present them left and right for patience. The obvious one will peek its head out when you are driving during rush hour or shopping on the weekend. But how about when you are with that family member who knows just how to push your buttons? Or when that coworker you can’t stand becomes the reason you have to work late?
When you face patience opportunities this holiday season, endure them with a calm temper while expecting nothing in return for your noble actions. Suffering will not be rewarding at first, but hopefully, just when you feel you are about to break, you will reap the benefit of patience in a world overcome by the impatient.