One of two vices I chose to work on is Patience, or rather, lack of patience. If I was patient it would be a virtue. However, I lack patience so it’s a vice that needs tending.
Patience and Selfishness
As a youngster, I had all the patience in the world…so long as I was doing what I wanted to be doing. But, put me in church or another situation where time seemed to drone on and I squirmed. I bounced around more than a rowboat on the high seas in a hurricane.
I can thank my mother for teaching me to rein in the obviousness of my fidgeting. She would put in a corner for a time out. Oddly, I had fun in time-outs. I would make up stories and talk to the walls.
When I look back, I realize I was so squirmy because I lacked patience. A half-hour sermon seemed to go on forever. I remember looking through the cubbies where the Bibles and Hymnals rested, crawling under the pews, dangling over the sides of the pews, and emptying my mother’s purse.
The lack of patience was due to me not having fun. Hence, I was utterly selfish, as are most children.
We Grow Up
At some point in our schooling, we learn we don’t get to do everything we want when we want. We learn that others get to share what makes them happy. Even if we don’t think it looks exciting, we know that we’ll get our chance to share soon. We learn to wait our turn.
I learned these things like every other child. And by high school, I was fine waiting my turn in the lunch line, waiting for my friends to come to get me, and waiting while my parents dragged me wherever, whenever.
Then I grew up. Work commitments, children’s schedules, and home duties had me on edge. Waiting became difficult again. I would assume I could run one more errand before picking up the kids from school. Only to get stuck behind someone who didn’t have a time crunch.
People who were slow when explaining information or who got side-tracked while telling a story drove me crazy. I wanted to finish sentences for people, but I knew it was rude to do so, and I painfully held my tongue…between my teeth.
And that selfish lack of patience would ruin my day. As the kids got older I learned how better to manage my time. I got less selfish and would even let others who looked stressed go in front of me at the supermarket.
Life Lessons Improve Patience
Then my in-laws got older. At first I was impatient when my father-in-law would pause while he searched for the right words or attemtped to recall a name. Some people would say Dementia or senility. At first I would nod in agreement.
I can’t remember when the new lesson clicked, but suffice it to say, I learned a new lesson.
The human brain is similar to a computer’s memory. As the computer components get older and more overloaded, they slow the system. Information takes longer to retrieve and download. It’s the same thing with the human brain. My father-in-law knew what he wanted to talk about, but his brain was overloaded and his equipment was breaking down.
If I waited for him to find his words he would finish his story. But, I had to wait. I had to give him that time to find those words. If I interrupted, his brain had to stop working on retrieval and try to process what I had just said. Thereby, frustrating him.
The Endless Cycle of Patience and Lack of Patience
I’ve come to realize this is a constantly rotating cycle. Some days I have the virtue of patience and some days I struggle with the vice of lack of patience.
There are days I have the time and patience to let others go ahead, to let someone find the right words for their story, or to wait my turn in a seemingly endless line for whatever.
There are days when I lack patience when time hasn’t been friendly and the endless line means I’ll be late, when the person I’m listening to doesn’t realize how long they’ve rambled on, or when I fill in a substitute word when someone can’t retrieve it quick enough.
The Best Reminder For Now
As I learn and grow I must remember that I have been the person who has held up the pace of the line (unable to locate my receipt or tickets), I have been the person who has stumbled trying to retrieve a long-forgotten name buried in my memory bank, and I have been the person who has rambled off track telling a story.
It’s not the best laid plan for how to fix my lack of patience, but it’s the best plan I have for now. Plan my time better, know what I can skip if time is running short, have patience or at least politely interrupt and let a speaking person know I would love to hear the story, but it will have to wait for now. And above all, remember that I’ve delayed others as well. We all have. I beleive we’ve all done it unintentionally.
What can you do to increase your patience? What tip do you recommend for others who are impatient?