Patience Is The Hardest Thing To Master

“Don’t pray for patience,” advised an elderly friend, “God will keep putting you in experiences where you need to be patient.”

One of those 1980s self-help gurus taught that life keeps throwing a lesson at you until you master it. Then it sends another challenge your way.

Patience is hard. People say it’s because of the (formerly) fast-paced lives we lead. But I think ancient people felt the same thing. It’s not a problem of the times; it’s a people problem.

People get an infection and are prescribed an antibiotic. They take two and feel great. They stop taking the medicine with five days to go. The infection symptoms return even worse. They lost patience and thought wrongly that they were cured.

Patience requires a day at a time, an hour at a time, even a minute at a time of just plodding along. Not pushing. Not picturing the end and developing a longing to get there. Just live in this minute.

Sometimes (all the time?) patience is frustrating. While we’re outwardly patient, inside we can allow frustrations to break out in physical symptoms of inflammation or even bursts of anger.

Perhaps the problem is we’re not getting our way. We’re not in control. But we are taught that we must be in control. The tension can become overwhelming.

The miracle of breathing comes to the rescue. The deep inhalation. The pause. Always the pause. So much of life comes to light in the pause. And then the long slow exhalation. It is in the exhale that we feel the peace, the calm, perhaps even the presence of God.

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