Problems with Patience

Patience is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. It seems to stem from a gap between what I think should happen, and the way life / others / God is. I’d love to share some thoughts and experiences I’ve had in being patient with others, God, and myself. 

Patience with others

For most of my life, I liked to do things quickly. I tend to talk quickly, think quickly, get out the door quickly.  Then God gave me the best husband, who takes his time to think before speaking, tends to leave things for the last minute, never seems to be in a rush. And who is the most patient person I have ever met.

It drove me crazy for a while. I tried getting him to change, but soon realized that there was beauty in the way he approached each day, and that I needed to grow. So I started breathing and praying every time I felt myself getting impatient. After a while, I stopped getting so antsy. I became more comfortable with quiet, with taking my time, with actually thinking before I spoke. And as I found peace in slowing down, I became more patient with everyone around me. 

Patience with God

This one is a tough one for me. It’s hard to see what God is doing when things fall apart, when hearts are broken, when the world is so full of hate.

I could give you platitudes here – God’s timing is different from ours. We don’t understand why suffering happens. God is close to the brokenhearted. And all these are true, but they often don’t feel like enough.

Here, I love to look at the saints. There are thousands of people who waited on God in the midst of suffering and uncertainty. People whose prayers were never answered in the way they hoped, people who desired one way of life but God led them down another. I think of Mother Teresa, who felt far from God for 40 years as she served those around her. Or St. Mark Ji Tianxiang who wanted so badly to break free of his opium addiction, but was never able to – but he continued to love God through his illness and died a martyr. Both of them must have asked God where he was, asked him how he could let this suffering continue. 

We are not the first people to wait for God to reveal His plans, or to heal us, or to give us some sign — and we won’t be the last. So, whenever I feel overwhelmed wondering where God is, I take a look at people who have walked this road ahead of me. They remind me that though God doesn’t alleviate all suffering, he does join us in it. That though God might not answer our prayers in the way we wanted, we are invited to know and love the creator of the universe, and that’s pretty incredible. We will never fully understand God, but we do know that his way of loving others makes life worth living. 

Patience with ourselves

St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.”

I’ve gone to confession full of nerves that God is mad at me and I don’t deserve forgiveness. And multiple times I have had the priest say to me: “Stop being so hard on yourself. God loves you. He is so, so glad you are here.” 

If we could only see ourselves as God sees us, we would never believe lies like “I’m not enough” or, “I’m not worthy of love.” God desires for us to be patient in the slow work of becoming more like Jesus: to be kind to ourselves, to trust in his mercy, and to never believe we are too far lost for him to find us.  

So, maybe you are struggling to be patient with others – maybe one person in particular. Maybe you are growing impatient with God and wishing he would answer your prayers asap. Or maybe you are frustrated in yourself because you just can’t let go of the bad habits in your life. I’m going to say this to you in case you need to hear it (I know I need to hear it everyday) — “Stop being so hard on yourself. God loves you. He is so, so glad you are here.”