That mysterious, elusive word.
Just when I think I’ve got a little, real life comes crashing through.
It normally goes something like this…
- My son decides that it would be a good idea to chase his sister.
- My daughter decides that the best way to deal with the brotherly pursuit is to scream at the top of her lungs.
- Right before all this…daddy decided it was a good time to make an important business call.
- Patience has officially left the building!
I wish I could tell you that this is a rare occurrence but it isn’t. In fact, with both my wife and I working from home it actually happens more frequently than I’d like to admit.
HOWEVER – We are working on it…consciously.
I know that I must set a good example for my children. I know I need to practice patience. I know that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, a ‘perfection that the Holy Spirit forms in [me] as a first fruit of eternal glory’ (CCC 1832). I know that patience is an attribute of charity (1 Cor 13:4).
Yet all this knowledge seems to avail me little in the heat of the moment. Why is that? Aristotle is quoted as having said:
Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.
Maybe that’s explains why it can be so hard. Bitterness. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
I want things to go the way I think they should go.
I want others to behave the way I think they should behave.
I think “out of control” situations and “perceived” misbehavior demands a response.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen insists that it does, but under certain conditions.
Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.
I guess it comes back to what Mom repeatedly told me as a kid – Two wrongs don’t make a right.
It’s okay for me to take a minute before responding to any situation or person. I have to check my motives, my disposition.
Is it the right time to respond?
Is the motivation for my response based on the right principle(s)?
By responding now, am I acting in the right way?
This criteria works…whether I’m stuck behind a truck going 20 miles an hour or my kids are going berserk.
The rightness of my timing, my reasons, and my action really does matter. St. Paul admonishing the Romans said:
For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life… – Rom 2:6-7
It is for this reason that I must be in business of trying. Everything is at stake.
Dear God, please help me to faithfully practice patience.
May God bless you and keep you.