One of the seven virtues extolled in Scripture is patience… and it’s one of the most important, perhaps the most important, as all the other virtues require patience in order to be perfected! Yet patience is one of the most difficult virtues to practice. Here are three ways you can build patience:
- Pray. Anything and everything can happen through prayer. St. Augustine reminds us we’re all beggars before God. If we ask, we will receive.
- Meditate on Jesus. St. Jane Frances de Chantal writes, “With whom did Jesus converse? With a traitor who sold him at a cheap rate, with a thief who reviled him in His last moments, with sinners and proud Pharisees. And shall we, at every shadow of an affront or contradiction, show how little charity and patience we have?”
- Practice agere contra (to go against). This is a concept borrowed from Ignatius of Loyola: when you feel impatient and are tempted to be unkind, go against your impulse, and smile, be thoughtful, do what you don’t want to do—but can do, with the help of God (see the first item in this list: prayer!).
The truth is, we all hate to wait. If a website doesn’t load fast enough, if the car in front of us doesn’t take right off at the green light, if a friend is a few minutes late in arriving, we tend to lose it. But over and over we are assured that God wants us to be patient—with others, and with ourselves. And we can do it, with God’s help!
Bonus hint: Many saints struggled with patience, but none more than St. Cyprian, who wrote a whole book on it called On The Advantage of Patience. His advice? Remember the times others have been patient with us, and how it felt. If it’s a gift we appreciated, then we can better pass it on to others.