“Patience is a virtue, Virtue is a grace, Grace is a little girl with dirt upon her face”

The quotes I have read so far from the bible (isn’t Google great?) have so far told me that patience is a steadfast endurance, a suffrage. If one struggles for good and endure that suffering they are patient. A recent philosophy article tells us that patience is not only tolerance but encouragement for another person to take their time. It is a way for us to communicate that we appreciate the other person’s struggle and are willing to spend our time with them until they reach their goal. It is a form of self restraint. Which is right? Do we endure our own suffering or other’s suffering to be deemed patient? Are both right, are we enduring the suffering of our impulses while enduring the suffering of others’ agency?

Today I am very tired, my 3 yr old had a long nap yesterday and wouldn’t allow me to settle her in with her father (she had an accident in our bed so only one of us could sleep in our bed) until 2:30 in the morning. She didn’t settle immediately as I could hear her banging away in our room as I lay on the sofa with our 6 month old next to me, peacefully asleep, in her Moses basket. Then my baby wakes for a feed and I promptly fall asleep, with breast in easy reach she suckled on and off through the night, periodically waking me. By 10 o’clock this morning I gave up on any hope of meaningful sleep and got up. My 3 yr old, now awake again, is showing she has not had enough sleep by whining, screaming and stamping her feet with irrational demands to be completed immediately. I am not in the state of mind to be my usual gentle self and my thoughts turn aggressive very quickly. But endure I must, my children are too young to understand that tiredness is no excuse for difficult behaviour. “This too shall pass”. So I began thinking about patience.

The only place I can find meaningful insight into patience is in Buddhism. It’s all about letting go, contemplating your impatience, being respectful of other people’s life journeys and grounding yourself in the moment. Patience is a journey and an exercise in mindfulness. I read something along the lines of ‘find the time to meditate and if you can’t find the time then meditate longer’. This is patience. An appreciation of what is going on around you as you take the small steps to your destination. The less haste bit of ‘more speed less haste’, you will get there in the end, so will they. It’s the deep breath of resignation that now is just now and a second from now is a second from now, and really, it doesn’t matter, because time is just time. Patience is a trust that what you are aiming for is attainable if given the respect to be attained in the correct amount of time.

A lot of people in organised religion are made to feel that patience is suffering while waiting for judgement from God. To me this is propaganda to make people fearful that if they do not endure then they will not achieve. I think the real message, and I am sure many religious people within and outside of organised religion also agree, that patience is faith that good will come regardless. There is no need to endure hardship and suffer, just slow down and appreciate the journey. Patience is a happy thing not to be feared. Patience is love in one of its many forms.

Today my 12 year old needed to hear something three times in order to process it, he got distracted on my first repetition. I lost my patience with him by the second repetition and totally missed that he’d deemed what I said important enough to make sure he’d heard it right. I missed his appreciation of having me speak to him, of me being able to appreciate his attempt to engage with me. I’ve had a trying day and he has auditory processing disorder. I failed to recognise and appreciate these things because I wasn’t patient. I didn’t trust time to unfold at the rate that was needed to reach our mutual goal of communication.

Tonight I am patient again, I can look back and forgive myself for my impatient outburst, I can see it for what it was, a culmination of circumstances. This is what it is to be human and that’s okay. If I can forgive myself I’m sure the followers of the Other will place its/her/his forgiveness on me too. After all patience is faith for everyone.

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