middot patience daily living patience is love

patience is love

Written by  rabbi michael schiffman

art-truckbackPatience is a learned virtue. When I was very young, I didn’t have any patience. I wanted everything, and wanted it NOW! As life went on, I learned patience through resignation.

There were some things you just can’t have instantly. Life teaches us through its roadblocks. As early as elementary school, we are taught to get into a line. Lines by their very nature teach patience because you have to wait. Like most people, I hate lines. It’s a waste of time to get something you should be able get in a few minutes. As we get older, lines extend to our vehicles. Waiting in traffic is an incredible waste. On more than one occasion the thought had crossed my mind that if all these people were dead, I’d be home by now.

Life is short and I don’t like wasting it by waiting on line. Most people try to redeem the time by bringing along a book or an iPod, so if they have to wait, they are at least doing something they like.

Over the years, I guess I’ve resigned myself to the reality that you just have to wait for some things, and it doesn’t upset me to be late, or to have to wait. It’s just a part of life. This doesn’t mean I’ve become patient, only that I surrendered to the unchangeable.

The thing I still need to work on is patience with people. I know people are complicated, and I know they come with their individual issues, and I need to be patient with people’s physical limitations, mostly because it’s who they are and it’s not their fault.

Some people are easier to be patient with than others. When someone is being a jerk, I don’t want to be patient with them. I just want to get them on their way so they are out of my life. I’ve endured obnoxious people all my life, and I just don’t want to spend my life catering to their bad behavior. More often than not, the feeling is mutual, so it’s not a problem.

A bigger problem is loved ones. It was hard for me to become patient with my mom. She’s one of the most kind people I know, but as she has gotten older, I became impatient with her failing memory. I would have to repeat the same things over and over. It hurt me because I remembered when her memory was good, and I didn’t want to accept her new situation. At one point, my mom told me she knows her memory is failing, and its scaring her. It broke my heart to think that my mom was scared of anything. I started to think about all the times when I was a child and asked my mom to read me a story over and over. She didn’t get upset and say that we already read it. She patiently read them over and over. It was now my time to become patient with her. I listen to her stories over and over, and answer her questions over and over, because I love her. She’s the same person she always was, but needs extra understanding in this area. My grandmother had the same problem, but we sat and listened to her, because we loved her. After she passed away, I missed listening to her telling her stories. Someday, I’ll miss my mom’s stories, so I want to be around to listen to her tell them, instead of regretting that I didn’t when she wanted me to listen.

Patience is an expression of love, which is why the Scriptures teach us to practice it. It’s not as important to do as much as I can with the least amount of waiting, as it is to have treated people well along the way.

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