What role does patience play in your life?

Patience is a virtue. A virtue is a character trait valued as being good. Saying that patience is a virtue also implies that patience is a good value. Indeed, many of us would like to have more patience in our lives. Patience allows time to flow without undue anxiety or anger. Patience alleviates stress in our lives. Patience cures road rage. A great deal of violence could be cured by a greater amount of patience in the world. All of the great prophets and leaders have shown inordinate amounts of patience. This is not to say that leadership always invokes patience. Sometimes leaders and prophets have demonstrated that even patience has limits.

So how do we get more patience? How can we become a more patient person? At my annual retreat, the Retreat Master spoke of those who pray for patience and complain that their prayers are not answered. He said “Praying for patience is like me praying to have muscles like Arnold Swartzenegger and then expecting God to just give them to me. I am here to tell you that you will have to do more than just pray. You will have to exercise to get muscles and you will have to exercise to get patience.” Furthermore, he went on, we are all given many opportunities each day to practice and exercise our patience. Think of the number of times each day you are upset or short with people whom you do not have time for. Think of the number of times you are in a hurry. Each of these is an opportunity to practice patience. Only by continuing to practice will you gain more patience.

The next time you are at a light and someone fails to move, take a minute to observe and practice patience. The next time you are at a long line in a grocery story, think about practicing patience with the coupon holder in front of you. The next time someone cuts you off on the road, practice patience. See how many times today you can practice patience. How many opportunities did you have? How many times did you succeed? Keep practicing. Practice makes perfect.

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