Some people are born with patience. Most of us are not. Like most lessons in life we learn it through experiencing hard knocks.
From the moment we’re born we begin waiting? First, we’re crying for a diaper change or breast milk. Then, gradually, we acquire language and with it the responsibility of learning patience. From the time I was in grade school my report cards always said “lacks self-discipline.” In other words, I was impulsive and impatient. I found it too difficult to wait for recess to talk to my friend.
We try to be increasingly patient with slow moving traffic and with elevators that seem to linger on high floors. Or the neighbors in the condo that stop the elevator by holding the door open so they can talk to each other. How about waiting for our phone calls and emails to be returned, and—of course—for our checks to arrive? We wait for love. I remember waiting for return calls from dates. It often seemed like an eternity. Sometimes it was.
Chill out and be patient, we tell ourselves. Holding our breaths, we anxiously wait to hear if our kids are accepted into impossibly selective nursery schools, high schools and colleges. Everyone waits at the doctor’s office, sometimes in several different rooms, before we’re seen. Then we wait again –often in an agony of anxiety—for the results of our medical tests and the eventual, all-important diagnosis.
Some choices are obviously more difficult to make than others. Sometimes there are reasons to wait for more information before you make a decision. On other occasions waiting is a bad idea. One cliché advises you to “look before you leap.” Another warns that “he who hesitates is lost.”
As I’ve aged I have learned to become more patient. When I was paralyzed from the waist down I learned a great deal of patience. I learned it by having to move slowly when motivating my wheelchair through doorways and around tables. I still dented a lot of things and tore the molding off my bedroom door twice. Every time I dropped something I had to retrieve my reacher, unfold it, and fish for the item.
Waiting for the Metro Mobility bus was a true test of patience. The busses were usually on time, but the times often left an hour on each end of the appointment. That’s when my avid desire for reading began.
Elizabeth Taylor said “It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.”
This is probably what makes grandparents so appealing to grandchildren. They have the time to devote their entire attention on the younger ones. They stop. They listen. They have nowhere to rush off to.
The Bible says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” Galatians 5:22.
Patience is a lot of things, but for most of us it is difficult.
Marguerite Elisofon is a blogger who’s article inspired me to write this one. Her words are incorporated throughout this article. To follow her go to http://the-never-empty-nest.blogspot.com/