Patience is a virtue; it is a key skill for success. Patience isn’t about how long it takes us to reach the finish line but about our ability to keep a good attitude until we reach the end.
Working at a school you’d think that this has taught me a lot of patience. Explaining to the children every day the maths task, how to form letters or put their shoes on requires so much patience. I’ve been doing this patiently for some years now. For so long that it comes totally naturally to me. Given this, it was a shock to find out how little patience I have with myself.
Fruit of the Spirit – Patience
Why is it that we can patiently tolerate others and kindly offer our help to them, but we can’t bear with ourselves? Why is it that we get frustrated so quickly with ourselves and fall into fits of anger? Is it because we expect so much more from ourselves? Or is it because actually we have realistic expectations from others but try to push ourselves further and further? Do we see ourselves as superhuman with superpowers that are supposed to shine all the time?
And when this doesn’t happen, do we turn into monsters that are not able to deal with it? Even to the extent that we don’t care about what our surroundings think when we lose patience with ourselves and flip out? But this certainly isn’t a superpower it is rather a weakness and I was a great example of it. I’d throw a tennis racket or a golf club away if I wasn’t able to hit the ball and fall easily into fits of anger with myself. I had to learn to deal with frustration when I couldn’t do something properly. I knew it wasn’t something I mastered easily.
Sure, after a short fit of anger and frustration with myself I’d usually pick myself up and deal with the situation (as expected from an adult). I’d hope that by suppressing my frustration it will go away. I learnt to manage my behaviour. Although it was hard to deal with it I was thinking that I’ve it all under control…up to a certain point.
It’s hard to suppress it when you hit rock bottom. Unfortunately, our world often has to be shaken upside down and we have to undergo some traumatic event in order for us to stop, take a deep breath and reflect. Often first then we realise what is really important in our lives. But also witness how little patience we have with ourselves.
Remember it’s a marathon, not a race
Laying in the hospital bed and not being able to reach for things I wanted did drive me crazy. Those little everyday things that you can’t do anymore and losing your independence as you need to rely on help from others does definitely test your patience. This can be hard for us to accept, it makes us frustrated, angry… Until this point it was us who would be helping others and now we have to rely on others?
I never forget apologising to a nurse for being such a pain when I needed her help to just pass a cup to me that I couldn’t reach… And it was her kind words: “Darling, you’re not a pain and don’t think so of yourself. I’m here because I want to help you. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wouldn’t want to be here for you.” That slowly opened my mind to being able to accept help from others. Surely if others can be so kind to us why can’t we just be patient with ourselves? After all love is patient, God is patient with us. He loves us and we are allowed to love ourselves.
Love is patient, love is kind
People would say to me “take it day by day” or “be kind to yourself”. You hear those words and even think “surely, that’s what I do” but do you really? For a worrier like me instead of giving myself a chance to accept the pain and the reality after my accident, I would worry about work and give myself a timeframe by when I wanted to be able to do certain things…
Yes surely, it’s all good and a big motivator but you need to listen to your body, to your pain. You have to remember that nothing happens without God’s will. He is the only one who can change us. We cannot get there by ourselves on our own strength. He will get us there. You will make it. He has promised you will and he will keep his promise.
It is healthy to challenge yourself but you need to set yourself realistic, manageable goals. Otherwise you may well be disappointed if things don’t go the way you want them to. You need to learn to take time to see, reflect and appreciate your day to day progress and be positive. Build on it rather than seeing all the things that you aren’t able to do yet through your negative eyes.
One step at a time
Don’t push too much, collaborate with your body…body and mind. Give your body the time it needs. It knows best how much or how little time it needs to heal so don’t rush it. Your body knows what it’s capable of and you need to be realistic about it. No one is superhuman. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed straight away – perhaps it just wasn’t the right time. Optimise it, don’t perceive it as a defeat but turn it into victory. You can do it but you need to listen to your body. Keep working on yourself because God is working on you, in you.
By being patient and slowing down you can actually gain strength and confidence back. Funnily enough, the achievements will come faster too. Focus on your goals, put your trust in God, and with this positive mindset you can face even the impossible things in life. Patience is one of the greatest supports we have in the healing process. That’s why it is so important to be patient in your journey of recovery. So give yourself a hug, be kind to yourself and take things day by day. Be patient and grateful for everything you have already achieved, everything else will come at the right time…
*Do you struggle with your patience? What is the biggest challenge and what is helping you to gain patience? Share your experience in the comment below.