Patience. None of us have as much as we need. We all need it.
The lead singer of Guns N’ Roses, Axl Rose, even sang about it. Of course, he isn’t exactly the pinnacle of patience. If he were, he never would have sent a roadie on a plane from the U.S. to London moments before a concert to fetch the infamous yellow jacket he left behind. (And you thought you’ve had challenging bosses.)
Patience. I’m told it’s a virtue. Patience is exemplified mostly by saints who became saints because they were capable of said virtue. Saint Monica of Hippo patiently prayed for 17 years for the conversion of her son, Augustine — and we’re all thankful she did.
I don’t exactly put forth 100% into my practice of this virtue. I’ll be the first one to stand up and share that if there were a patience deficit, I would be the poster child for it. I am what-not-to-do for patience. Ask my kids, ask the cat, ask the countertop I vigorously tap while “patiently” waiting for everyone to start gravitating towards the door to leave for anywhere.
I struggle with patience in all aspects of my life, but specifically as a parent. I can only answer the same questions so many times before I want to bang my head on the wall. I can only imagine how I must make God feel when I do the same. I struggle with patience regarding my chores, my marriage, my work, my family, and people I run into in life. I am not always charitable. I allow myself to get frustrated, I get angry, I’m not friendly, I yell, I get short-tempered. I forget I make mistakes. I forget all the times that others have been patient with me in life. Most importantly, I forget God’s infinite patience with me.
Mother Angelica said that “patience is adjusting our time to God’s time,” and that’s a problem for those of us who have grown so dependent on an instant-gratification culture filled with Amazon Prime, good wifi, and remote voice commands.
As a parent, I’d like to be better at being patient with the Lord when I ask for something. On any given week, I tell my children “no,” “later,” or “another time.” All because their requests are either not timed right, not good for them, or simply not possible. The only difference is my response to my children is clear, immediate, and direct. If God is clear and direct, which I’m confident he often is, then I’m not being open to listening because I want what I want when I want it… instead of having faith and trusting God.
God gives us what he wants when he wants us to have it. Like any good parent, he knows when the best time is, or if there is a best time.
I once heard that the best way to understand God’s time is to understand his ability to see everything. God is above looking down on the entire locomotive we call time. All at once he sees the caboose, the engine, and every car in between (past, present, and future). The train moves slowly for us riding inside of it, and even if we’re walking around, it takes time to move a few cars up. God sets things in place for us in a certain car. It may take us several “cars” to reach the intended one, but we always get there. Even if our request isn’t in the car, I’m positive a lesson to be learned is along the way and we almost always understand his answer by the time we get there.
Patience is a “time” thing for us. We experience the waiting period that God doesn’t. I’m certain this is the way it is because in waiting, there can be suffering, but there is also always hope in this life. Every request is a trust fall exercise with a God we can’t see but one who is there and wants us to just let go. He’ll catch us. I think making us wait is his way of pushing us to trust in him. To ask and then let him do his job. God can see the whole train.
While I don’t always understand the “whys” in life, I know if I trust and stay patient, the wait is a lot easier. So, how do I make the wait bearable? Well, I don’t most of the time. Because I’m not patient. But I do try. I try to remind myself to trust God. It’s an hourly effort most days to remember that he is not ignoring me, but that he knows what’s best for me and he will take care of me.
I work towards patience daily (and fail hourly). I start and end the day with an Our Father and when I feel myself losing patience a quick Hail Mary. If it’s a really rough day I say multiple Hail Marys in rapid succession. When I’m frustrated and feel my tipping point is coming, I try to say, “Jesus I trust in you” in an effort to slow myself down. I also recently came across this prayer for the virtue of patience:
Patience is a virtue of the Lord: He awaits the return of His children. Forgive my trespasses Oh Lord Jesus, For many times have I tested You. I deserved the wrath of Your hand, But You saw greater things for me: Your patience has been enormous! Grant me a droplet of such endurance, That I may abolish my impious impatience, Refraining from using unpleasant words, And always reflecting Your serenity. Great is the Lord Jesus in His ways!
Patience is a virtue but it’s also a journey that takes a lot of dedication, humility, piety, perseverance, faith, and love. Most importantly, it takes trust that God’s got this. In the words of Axl Rose: “… take it slow, and it’ll work itself out fine. All we need is just a little patience.”
Christina Antus lives with her husband and her three cute, but noisy, kids. When she’s not writing, she’s running, reading, folding forever-piles of laundry, and probably burning dinner.