Patience: What do we need it for, anyway?

Patience equals waiting. Waiting it out is hard and very difficult to live through. Yet we are forced to wait in many circumstances – sometimes futile ones. And the crazy thing about patience is that we can’t avoid it. Because, whether we like it or not, waiting is going to happen. It’s part of life.

Here’s the part of patience that makes me uncomfortable: the part where you accept and tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset; persevering in the face of delay. Others call it steadfastness. Staying when the going gets tough. And even though I’m not very good at it sometimes, I’m often incredibly inspired by others who are. I see how waiting through life threatening illness has saved a woman’s life. I see how waiting through a husband’s growth has saved a marriage. I see how waiting through the use of silence has changed the course of a friend’s life, dramatically. Patience has been used as a tool for growth for these people.

I read Mark Nepo’s profound and poised words about patience today. I wanted to share them with you:

Fear wants us to act too soon. But patience, hard as it is, helps us outlast our preconceptions. This is how tired soldiers, all out of ammo, can discover through their inescapable waiting that they have no reason to hurt each other.

It is the same with tired lovers and with hurtful and tiresome friends. Given enough time, most of our enemies cease to be enemies, because waiting allows us to see ourselves in them. Patience devastates us with the truth that, in essence, when we fear another, we fear ourselves; when we distrust another, we distrust ourselves; when we hurt another, we hurt ourselves; when we kill another, we kill ourselves.

So when hurt or afraid or confused, when feeling urgent to find your place on this Earth, hard as it is, wait… and things as you fear them will, more often than not, shrink into the hard irreplaceable beauty of things as they are… of which you have no choice but to be a part.

How did waiting change you?

What, if anything, did waiting give you?

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