Have Patience with Everyone, Including Yourself

Why is patience soooo hard???

Even people I know who are “the most patient people on earth” or “have the patience of Job” struggle with patience. Patience can be difficult because people don’t always do what we want them to do when we want them to do it. And while I might be more willing to extend patience to a stranger, being patient with those closest to me can be a challenge. Still patience is the way of Jesus.

Saint Francis de Sales responded to a person who was “hip deep” and overwhelmed in his responsibilities. “I remember you telling me how much the multiplicity [number] of your affairs weighs on you; and I said to you that it is a good opportunity for acquiring the true and solid virtues. The multiplicity of affairs is a constant martyrdom, for just as flies cause more pain and irritation to those who travel in summer than the traveling itself does, just so the diversity and the multitude of affairs causes more pain than the weight of these affairs itself.

You need patience, and I hope that God will give it to you and that you will try to practice it faithfully, preparing yourself for it every morning by a special application of some point in your meditation, and resolving to restore yourself to patience throughout the day as many times as you sense yourself becoming distracted.

Do not lose any occasion, however small it may be, for exercising gentleness of heart toward everyone. Do not think that you will be able to succeed by your own efforts, but only by the assistance of God, and on setting out, consign yourself to His care, believing that he will do that which will be best for you, provided that, on your part, you employ gentle diligence. I say a ‘gentle diligence’ because violent diligence spoils the heart and affairs, and is not diligence, but haste and trouble.

We will soon be in eternity, and then we will see how all the affairs of this world are such little things and how little it matters whether they turn out or not. At this time, nevertheless, we apply ourselves to them as if they were great things. One day it will be the same with us in Heaven, when we see that our concerns in this world were truly only child’s play.

Have patience with everyone, but chiefly with yourself; I mean to say, do not trouble yourself about your imperfections, and always have the courage to lift yourself out of them. I am well content that you begin again every day: there is no better way to perfect the spiritual life than always to begin again and never to think you have done enough.”                                                                              

Kira M. Newman, the managing editor of Greater Good, and co-editor of The Gratitude Project, has shared some everyday ways to build patience.

Reframe the situation. Feeling inpatient is not just an automatic emotional response; it involves conscious thoughts and beliefs, too. If a colleague is late for a meeting, you can fume about their lack of respect, OR see those extra 15 minutes as an opportunity to get some reading done. Patience is linked to self-control.

Practice mindfulness. In one study, children involved in a six-month mindfulness program in school became less impulsive and more willing to wait for a reward. The program also recommended mindfulness practice for parents: Taking a deep breath and noticing your feelings of anger or overwhelm (for example, when your kids start yet another argument right before bedtime) can help you respond with more patience.

Practice gratitude. A study revealed adults who were feeling grateful were also better at patiently delayed gratification. If we’re thankful for what we have today, we’re not desperate for more stuff or better circumstances immediately.”

Saint Francis de Sales believed that holiness can be realized by all, regardless of age, status, or stage of life. He encouraged people to grow in love for God and others, and to do so through constant prayer, the celebration of the sacraments and accepting God’s will in our daily lives.

Blessings and peace to you as we journey together in Encountering Christ in Word, Liturgy, Charity and Community.    

A Saint Monica Sojourner

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