Hope, She Wrote: The Art of Patience
Here’s an excerpt from my latest column in The Minto Express:
Two words that I have always been fascinated by – and admittedly, sometimes annoyed by – are patience and longsuffering. Ever found yourself to be in the midst of what you’d call a “trying” time, where you feel tested or like a certain “life season” will never end? Welcome to the club! And isn’t it annoying when someone says to you “just be patient”. Way easier said than done!
Patience and longsuffering are another couple of words that are destined to be together – if we’re going to be successful at either.
Our English word patience comes from the Greek word hypomone, which is a compound word composed of hypo (a preposition that means ‘under’) and moneo (a verb that means to ‘abide’ or ‘remain’). From this, we take that patience is to ‘abide’, ‘endure’, or ‘remain under’ difficult circumstances when we can’t avoid them and have to go through them.
Similarly, our English word longsuffering in Greek is makrothumia, which comes from the compound makros (which means ‘long’ or ‘far’) and thumos (temper, referring specifically to ‘wrath’ or ‘fierceness’). So the Greek definition of longsuffering indicates remaining emotionally calm in the face of trying or unfavourable circumstances.¹ The point of what I’m trying to say here is this: Patience is practicing endurance in this race we call life, and longsuffering is the attitude or frame of mind we have while we’re going through whatever life throws at us. Makes sense, right? The hard part is putting it into practice.
Here are a few ways to put patience and the attitude of longsuffering into action:
- Identify what makes you feel impatient: Are you stressed out with too many deadlines? What about personal commitments? Are you stretching yourself thin by “burning the candle at both ends”? What can you let go of, or delegate to others?
- Recognize unhealthy patterns: When you feel impatient or stressed, keep track of these instances, and address them head-on.
- Let it go: I know, this is like that annoying “just be patient” statement. But seriously, practicing an attitude of “longsuffering” (emotional calmness) can have incredible impact on your patience. Adjust your attitude, pray about it, talk to a close friend – all healthy exercises. Also, look out rather than in – instead of focusing on the circumstances that make you feel impatient, refocus to put others first.
The virtue of patience can mean the difference between good and great for your life. If you’re feeling impatient when things don’t happen right away, remember that it takes 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce, and only 13 hours to build a Toyota.
¹Garland, Tony. “Patience vs. Longsuffering.” Spirit and Truth, December 28, 2012.
Robertson, Hope. “Practicing Patience.” Minto Express 12 February 2014: 5. Print.