Yes, unfortunately, this saying is a mirror for me to look into, and I see myself. If asked to list my weaknesses, patience would definitely be on the list. I don’t know why being patient is so hard for me. I’m sure my family members, from my parents to my wife and kids, would all agree that I lack patience.
So, today I will write about this character flaw of mine– hopefully I’m not alone in my struggle. In my often-unsuccessful quest to improve in this area, I have recognized that demonstrating patience is truly a sign of maturity. To me, maturity to a large degree equals emotional control. Isn’t that what patience is? Taking a deep breath, counting to 10, and all that stuff– It’s not letting our emotions decide our reaction to the situation.
After teaching psychology for roughly 25 years, I’ve learned that there are two ways to respond to stressful situations. We can respond proactively or reactively. Basically, proactively means using your brain to choose a socially appropriate or positive response. Responding reactively means to respond emotionally or in a negative manner. Therefore, if we by nature are a reactive, emotional person, we need to recognize the triggers or things that cause us to be impatient. Think about the times that you have lost your patience. Was it with your kids? A co-worker? The clerk at the DMV? What specifically about that situation bothered you the most? Some common triggers may be waiting for someone/something, loud noises, repeating something you already explained, not being able to figure something out, etc. Recognizing these situational triggers allows us to prepare for those times where our patience is going to be tested.
I have seen individuals that are patient and calm in stressful situations, and I admire them as role models. In our character development and leadership classes, we used the word composure to describe a character trait that allows us to remain calm and be proactive. Remain calm and keep your composure– it’s great advice.
Maybe when we pray for patience we are not given patience. Maybe we are only put in situations where we can then choose to demonstrate patience. If you are like me, I wish you the best. If you are a patient person, God bless you.