I LOVE language and learning word origins. The word for today is PATIENCE.
It has been said that having it is a virtue. In the King James English translation of the Bible, Galations 5:22 calls it “long suffering.” The Merriam Webster online dictionary lists synonyms as “forbearance” and “tolerance.” It doesn't have to be something one suffers through, but it is a good quality or virtue to have in one's personality repertoire!
When you were a child, there were things your parents told you that you could not do or gain until you were older. You had to have patience until you gained a little more growth and knowledge. There are some things that you were not ready for at age six that you were ready for at age sixteen. Once you understood that, with your parent’s guidance, you were happy for the lesson in patience. If you have your own children, you know that as you teach them things of life and guide them as they grow, once again the virtue of patience is required. Your baby is not going to walk the first time she stands up. It takes your time and patience.
People who have patience seem to always have a certain peace that those without it do not have. A person with patience will sit in rush hour traffic with the attitude of “well, there is nothing I can do about the traffic, but I can use this opportunity to meditate, pray, listen to my audio book, my favorite radio station, or CD.
Meanwhile, in the neighboring vehicle is a person without patience who is cursing the traffic, raising her blood pressure, and is a total wreck by the time she gets where she’s going because she had to sit in traffic that she had no control over.
That’s the point. Patience is finding peace in things you have no control over. What we do have control of is practicing patience—with that child who is growing, that grocery check-out clerk who lacks people skills, the man ahead of us in the check out who’s accent is difficult for the clerk to process, or that bad driver next to us on the freeway. It takes another virtue that Paul lists in the Bible as part of the fruit of the spirit: self-control. How do we get there?
Last Sunday, in my Sunday school class, my students and I discussed how to get there to that peaceful place—it’s things you practice daily. Those of you who pray know you ask God to help you to do things you know you cannot do alone and that, too, takes practice. There are a few ladies here who do not, and my purpose is not to force you to turn to the Bible, but to have you take a look at what you practice to gain patience. The children and I looked at playing music or sports. I asked each one of them if they played an instrument or a sport. One little girl said she was learning to play the piano. I asked her if her piano teacher would suggest that she could improve her playing by letting the piano sit in the room by itself during the week. “No, she says I have to practice every day!”
And so it is with patience. The next thing those smart little seven- and eight-year-olds came up with were ways they could gain another virtue—self-control—in order to exhibit patience and gain more steps toward finding that peace that comes from it. Smart kids, eh? I think so!
Today and tomorrow, I wish you the peace that comes from having patience—the “peace that passes all understanding.” I pray you gather where to look for guidance in that area of your life. For me, that’s a look up, not a hook up!