Living to Become Patient

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Ok. Let me first start off by saying that I am NOT the most patient person in the world.

The definition of patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Does that sound like you?

Nope?

Me either!

What is the phrase? Those who can’t do, teach.

That is what I totally feel like with this topic.

Of course, I have my moments that I’ve been more patient than others and when those patient moments come, I for reals do an internal fist bump and am like

“Yes! Nailed it!”

… and then there are other times, more often than not I’m sad to admit, that I am more like the 5-year old that asks all year long if it’s my birthday or Christmas yet.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this.

Life seems to hand all of us moments where we are given the opportunity to learn patience. It’s just that some of us are faster learners than others. Maybe that’s why the Lord keeps giving me these opportunities to be patient cause He’s like,

“Nope! She still hasn’t figured it out yet. Let’s keep her in it a bit longer.” I’m sure that God isn’t really like that, but you get what I’m saying. Sometimes it can feel that way.

I have had some very real patience-testing moments in my life. In fact, I’m in one right now and I’m sure that when this moment passes, I’ll be given more chances to learn how to find my inner zen.

If you have kids, you know that this is a serious “throw the parents into the water and see if they can swim” moment when it comes to being patient.

If you’ve ever had a toddler that refuses to eat his or her sandwich because you cut it into squares instead of triangles OR your kid once you put them to bed, they keep coming out of their room for the millionth time, as if they’ve just walked through the Sahara desert, then you know what I’m talking about.

But even if you don’t have kids, there are also very real waiting moments that require serious patience.

Waiting Moments

Yes, patience is required when driving in traffic or standing in the hour-long line at Disneyland, but what I want to talk about is the patience required when things don’t seem to be going our way and we’re left waiting for days, weeks, months, or even years.

Maybe some of you are waiting for health issues to be resolved, or to have a child.

You could be waiting to get a job or live far away from family and are waiting to see them again.

Or maybe you have a child away at school or on a mission, or a spouse that has been deployed and are awaiting their safe return.

All of these moments give us the opportunity to respond with patience or discontent.

I have to tell you that through my waiting moments, I’ve probably had more discontent than not.

Personal Story

So here’s the thing. I have been in a waiting space for a long time.

To be honest, I’m actually a little nervous to even share my story seeing as I’m still in it. But my hope is that we can all share our stories of waiting and learn patience together.

My learning moment began a little over five years ago when my hubby got laid off from his job.

Prior to his getting laid off we had actually been talking about whether he should start going into business with his dad, but in these talks, the discussion was that we would take a year or so and start building our savings to prepare for the leap.

One Sunday, as a family, we decided to fast and pray if this was the direction we should take. Mind you, we were all very happy with where we were living, the community we had around us, all of it. But we knew we needed to get some clarity on the subject… enter fasting and praying.

The next day, Monday, my husband walked into work and was laid off. You can’t get a much more direct answer to prayer than that.

So we put the house on the market, a little nervous about selling it since other homes in our neighborhood that were for sale had sat there for quite a while. But 2 weeks later we had an offer, well above what we paid for the house just shy of 2 years earlier.

So prayers had been answered.

We knew we needed to make this move, our house sold super fast, and because of the price that we were able to sell it for, that gave us the savings we needed that we didn’t get with our initial plan of saving for a year before making the job change.

Through this process, I thought “OK! I totally can see God’s hand in all of this! This is meant to be!”

We knew going into this that we would have to move in with my in-laws to make it work. My timeline, (do you see the problem with what I just said, my timeline, not God’s) is that it will be a rough 2 years, but my hubby will have the first year to get the education needed to start his job and then year 2 will be a building year and then we will be able to move into our own home.

HAHAHA!! WRONG-O!

I maybe should have checked in with the “architect” more often when I was designing my own blueprints for this life experience.

5 years later and we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Far too many times, I am ashamed to admit, I’ve been in that tunnel and felt like there was no light and I would just sit and cry.

And yet other times I have seen more light and although it wasn’t necessarily the light at the end of my trial tunnel, it was the light being offered by a friend.

I have argued, fought, balled my eyes out, constantly asked like a 5-year-old, “are we there yet?” or even worse, questioned if God really did answer our prayer in the first place and if we hadn’t made a HUGE mistake taking such a big leap of faith.

Through this process of waiting my patience at times has felt like I’ve been hanging onto the edge of steep cliff just trying to not lose my grip. But then there have been other times where I have been at the top of that same cliff overlooking the grand vista of life, marveling in the beauty of it all and everything that it has to offer.

So what is it then that has caused me to hang on for dear life and other times thinking that life couldn’t be any more amazing?

It’s important to note here that some people just have a knack for being patient. If that’s you then you probably have the patience to keep listening even if you don’t need to hear this. But for the rest of us, let’s take some notes.

Triggers

When it comes to patience, it’s important to realize what your triggers are. I mentioned earlier sitting in traffic or standing in long lines, but some other triggers could be not having a handle over our environment or when people aren’t conforming to our expectations.

A trigger could be struggling to master new skills or maybe even the thoughts that pop into your mind.

All of these things are really out of your control. You can’t control the traffic or long lines or how your kids react or follow through with something.

And you can’t always control what pops into your mind.

But here’s the cool thing…

What you can control

You can control how you respond to all these things. This is all within your awesome power.

Doesn’t that make you feel like a superhero when you hear you have power?

Ok.

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s still pretty cool!

So do you want to know how to become a Patience superhero?

Let’s find out how!

First let me start off by saying that often times your expectations are out of synch with reality, like for instance my expectation that my husband’s new business would have absolutely no snags and be wildly successful in under 2 years. But I digress.

Alrighty… Here are 3 steps you can take to BECOME a patience superhero!

Step 1. Allow yourself to feel the impatience.

I know this might sound counterproductive, but it’s actually not. I promise! Let me explain. You can’t change something until you recognize what you want to change. This goes for any of your feelings. So when it comes to an impatient moment take a minute to recognize how it feels. Is your mind calm or agitated? How are these feelings affecting the way your body feels? Do you feel relaxed or tense? Realizing first that most likely feelings of impatience are rarely pleasant can help empower and motivate you to try and change how you respond to what the dictionary says are moments of delay, trouble, or suffering.

Step 2. Transforming impatience into patience.

Just like Clark Kent has to take off his glasses and put on his cape, you need to learn how to take off your impatient black-rimmed glasses and securely fasten your bright red patience superhero cape.

But unlike Clark who can just step into a phone booth and seconds later emerge as Superman, your transformation will take a little more time and patience. I know, I know. It sounds funny to say you need to have the patience to be patient, but it’s true!

You have to understand that patience takes practice, time, and self-compassion. So give yourself some grace and keep at it! That transformation from impatient to patient, with practice, will get easier and faster.

Step 3. Reframe how you think about the situation

Once you have felt the feeling of impatience and have decided to transform it, now is the time to change how you think about it. Easier said than done though, right? When you’re in the thick of it, this can be the hardest part of exercising that patience superpower.

But you have the power within to make a conscious choice … a choice to turn your awareness to something else.

That could be during a present moment situation, where you look at your surroundings and find something that sparks curiosity or interest.

If you think back to our traffic example, maybe when those feelings of impatience start to rise, you start to look at the cars on the road, the license plates, or the make and model of the cars around you or find a good podcast to listen to, like the Living to Become podcast.

Just a suggestion. 🙂

Or when you are in a long line, you could take a moment to notice the people around you and how each of them has a whole life story and what that might be.

You could even take the chance to strike up a conversation with a stranger and maybe lift their spirits a bit.

What I’m trying to get at here is that I’m sure we would all love to institute a “no traffic jam policy” or a “maximum of 10 people in line at a Disneyland”.

But no surprise here, you don’t always get what you want.

And when you don’t, which you probably won’t, you can choose to get angry and frustrated OR reframe how you think about it and make the experience enjoyable or at least bearable.

And agree or disagree, the same goes for situations more long term than a traffic jam or a long line.

You can choose how you respond to long waiting moments.

How will you use those waiting moments?

I’m going to suggest using those moments of waiting to help and lift those around you.

In doing so, not only will your thoughts reframe by consciously making the effort to step outside of yourself and help someone else, but you just might find that the reframing of your thoughts will change on a whole other level by finding out that there are others out there with struggles that need someone just like you.

Win-win!

Service and a practice in patience in a neat package deal.

So those are the 3 steps to becoming a Patience Superhero.

Of course, whether you are a natural or not at patience, we will all most likely in one way or another have to practice patience for the rest of our lives.

Joyce Meyer said that “patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”

Now you may be asking yourself what’s the big deal with being impatient. Studies have shown that patient people enjoy better mental health, are better friends and neighbors, are more likely to achieve their goals, and is linked to good health?

So why wouldn’t you want to be more patient?

And if you’re still thinking I’m not sure how to really make this whole patience thing happen here are a few little tips for when you feel your impatience level rising:

Take deep breaths

Count to 10 (or maybe 100)

Start small

Take a time out

Remember what’s important

Visualize

Remember that things take time

Meditate

Just laugh

And

Just love

There you have it!

Living to become patient. You guys! This is a process and we are going to slip up. But that’s ok. Bring yourself back into that awareness and know that you can keep trying. With practice and self-compassion that superhero power will become more and more prevalent. Mother Teresa said “without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less, feel less, and hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.” So slow down and take the time to learn, see, feel and hear and you will find yourself becoming a little more patient each and every day.

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